Reframing Sales Conversations

Monday, December 6 2021

When a customer identifies and buys a product or service with little or no input and/or influence from others, that is transactional selling. Amazon is the world leader in this practice – customers identify a need, do the research, buy and arrange delivery.

A more complicated and productive strategy is relationship selling which is based on two-way communication with the objective of a win/win outcome. While the term Relationship Selling is in broad use, it doesn’t mean that you are friends with your prospect, but it does require you to have a deep understanding of their needs and desires. If you appreciate the uniqueness of your client and recognize what makes them tick, you are able to better present ideas.

Two useful communication tools in sales are paraphrasing and reframing. You paraphrase when you present someone’s words differently, but the meaning remains the same: “I think I’d like to freshen up the décor in my office” might be paraphrased as “It sounds like you’re ready for a change to your office décor.” It’s an effective way to clarify content and convey that you understand the person.

When you reframe, you present ideas differently. In sales, you might experience a client who details a laundry list of objections: “I would never deal with your company again because your delivery takes too long; I don’t like your refund policy; you don’t know how to treat customers properly; and your prices are too high!”

Reframing this rant clarifies: “Sounds like you want to deal with a supplier who understands your circumstances and responds to your needs in a timely manner.”

How does reframing benefit the sales process? In this example reframing:

  • Provides a turnaround from negative to positive context
  • Affords your prospect the opportunity to agree with you
  • Builds trust because you made a credible statement
  • Enables you to ask questions, develop the relationship and move forward in the sales process

Effective reframing requires what Stephen Covey calls empathic listening, that is, listening with the intent to understand. It means listening with your ears, your eyes, and your heart. If that sounds too mushy, remember that decisions are made emotionally and substantiated with logic. We all want to be heard and understood.

Reframing is a catalyst to improved communication. Work on your technique. You’ll achieve better business and personal relationships as well as improved results.