Q. Dear Zenagos,
I’m nervous about selling. I don’t know what to say, and I don’t think I’m a smooth talker. The jobs that make the most money are sales jobs, but should I just give up and go into customer service?
Good news! You don’t need to be a smooth talker to be good at sales. You do need to be a good listener. There’s a reason why people say that the best conversationalists are the people who are the best listeners (Vozza, 2016). Most people are happiest when they are talking about themselves, so let them talk.
Ask Great Questions
Some prospective customers (or “prospects”) will start talking on their own. For these customers, all you need to do is ask a simple question like, “What can I help you with today?” and they will drive the entire conversation for you. For a quieter prospect, you may need to ask an open-ended question to get them going. You can try, “How would you describe the challenges you are experiencing?” or “What would be the ideal outcome from your perspective and on what timeline?” If you don’t have a lot of experience asking questions, start practicing on all of the people in your life. See how long you can get them to talk without your intervention.
The Cold Call is a Special Art
When your job is to make cold calls – calling prospects who have not already expressed an interest in your offering – it is still important to be a good listener. You generally need to begin the conversation with a warm greeting and a brief introduction of your company and offering. Then, you can ask open-ended questions, such as “What are your biggest business problems today?” You will need to be prepared to ask follow-up questions, so you can get the prospect engaged.
Customer Service Can Be a Great Career
It is not unusual to be choosing between a sales job and a customer service role. Both are customer-facing roles that can be found in a wide variety of companies all around the world. Sales jobs do tend to be more lucrative because there can be the opportunity for commissions and bonuses. However, there are plenty of growth opportunities in customer service that can eventually lead to high-paying leadership positions. The best way to choose is to find an opportunity to try each type of role, so you can get a sense for your personal reaction to each.
If you are willing to practice your sales skills and work through your nervous feelings, sales can be a rewarding career in which you develop valuable lifetime relationships. However, it won’t be easy. You need to be ready to deal with rejection and move on to the next sales opportunity.
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Vozza, S. (2016, April 6). Six habits of the best conversationalists. Fast Company. Retrieved on July 20, 2023, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3058579/six-habits-of-the-best-conversationalists