When you think about sales, what are you thinking about?
You’re imagining some people talking, right?
One person is a customer talking about buying something, and they’re probably asking lots of questions.
Another person is selling that same thing, answering questions and explaining why it’s worth the money.
The truth is that sales are very much about talking to people. To work in a sales job, you’ll need to get to know your customers’ needs and wants, as well as how to give them exactly what they want to pay for.
So, if your plan is to really shine in sales, you should start with learning how to make conversation.
Once you get that potential buyer to talk to you, the final moment when you “close the deal” (sell something) isn’t very far away.
But what can you do to improve your conversation skills?
How to Master Any Sales Conversation in English (with Examples)
Practice Having Sales Conversations
First off, you need to learn some essential words related to sales. Then, you need to practice as much as you can—you’ll even need to practice having good sales conversations in your native language. The more you manage to have good conversations with people, the easier it will be for you to sell things and do well with your job.
And the more often you practice sales conversations, the more often you’ll be able to find the right thing to say when you want to convince someone to buy something.
To practice sales conversations, try having a role play with other English learners. A role play is when you pretend to be different people in a situation. In your sales role play, one of you will pretend to be the buyer and the other one will be the seller.
After you’ve had a long role play conversation, switch roles, so you can both understand what it feels like to be the buyer and the seller.
During your role play, don’t stop to look up new vocabulary. Instead, take notes during or after the role play so you can look at them later and ask yourself things like:
- What did you need to talk about during the role play?
- What vocabulary do you need to improve your conversational skills?
Ask friends and family to practice with you this way as often as possible. Don’t worry if you don’t know anybody to practice with at work or at home. You can do this kind of practice over Skype by finding other people like you who are learning English.
Prepare your English vocabulary
Another extremely useful thing you should do to get better at making conversation—and therefore better at sales—is to learn some key phrases and sentences you can use. At first, it will be useful to just read the phrases and imagine you’re in the real sales situation.
Next, try to include these phrases in your role plays with other students. The more you practice them, the easier it will be to use them in real situations.
Talk out loud
You can practice reading these words, phrases and sentences out loud. Look at yourself in the mirror and focus on your mouth movements, facial expressions and body language.
Wondering about your pronunciation? You can even try recording yourself to check how you sound.
Hear the real thing on FluentU
The easiest way to learn English sales language is, of course, to hear how native speakers use it.
You can start by watching some business English videos online, paying attention to the way words are spoken—and one great resource to find these videos of native speakers is FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—from business dialogues to news reports to movie clips—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
More to the point, FluentU has an entire business category filled with authentic business-related videos covering six language levels.
An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”
Every spoken word is subtitled, complete with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
So not only will you encounter tons of helpful business English greetings, but you can also be sure to learn lots of other relevant, useful English words and phrases.
All you have to do is tap or click on one of the words in those subtitles to get more information. For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
You can practice with FluentU on your computer or anytime, anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Essential Phrases for English Sales Conversations
Opening the conversation
It’s really important to start the conversation off in a very positive and helpful manner. You stand much higher chances of closing the sales if you’re nice from the very start.
If the customer comes to you, they will often say:
Hi, I was looking for…
Do you think you could help me with… ?
I need some help with…
Then you can say:
Sure, let me check for you.
Of course, can you tell me what size/style/model you need?
Yes, I can. Please tell me more about what you’re looking for.
Yes, I’m happy to help.
If you’re approaching the customer in a store:
Hello, how can I help you?
Hi! Can I help you?
Hello! Can I help you with something/anything?
If you’re contacting a new customer by phone:
Hello, have you heard of the new… ?
Hi, I’m [name] and I represent [company name]. Would you be interested in finding out about our latest product/service?
Finding out about customer needs
If you get the customer to tell you what they need, then you have a much better chance of offering them something that they’re willing to buy. Also, this helps you establish a relationship with the customer. Everybody knows that customers are more likely to buy from you if they feel listened to and if they feel that they can trust you.
Here are some questions you might ask a customer to get to know them and their needs:
Have you used such a product or anything similar before?
How do you want to use the product?
How often do you need to use the product?
Are you using anything else from this range?
This is your chance to highlight all the product’s advantages. Remember to use all the information the customer gave you earlier about what they need or want. For example, if you know they’re always using their technology, then you might highlight the long battery life of a phone or laptop.
The most important feature of this product is…
This newer version has many advantages over the older one.
One of the things I like best about this product is…
This product can be used in several ways, but we recommend…
Dealing with customer questions
Customers almost always have questions before making up their minds. It’s like they’re asking you to convince them to buy the product. So make sure that you’re well informed about the products you’re selling and if you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them you will find out, like in the first example below:
Customer: What is the warranty on this product?
Salesperson: I’m not sure, but let me check that for you… Okay, I see now. The warranty covers your product for 3 years.
Customer: How long does the battery last in this phone?
Salesperson: It should last around 36 hours, but it depends on how you’re using your phone.
Customer: What if I can’t figure out how to use this product?
Salesperson: You can always drop in or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to help!
Responding to doubts about products
If customers express their doubts to you, that’s really a good sign. It usually means that they want you to convince them the product is worth buying. So pay attention to their concerns and don’t just dismiss them as unimportant.
Customer: I’m not sure I like this product in this color.
Salesperson: We can also order it in black or blue. Which color would you prefer?
Customer: Maybe I shouldn’t buy a new laptop. My old laptop is still doing a pretty good job.
Salesperson: I totally understand you. I loved my old laptop so much that I didn’t want to replace it, but now I simply don’t know how I’d live without my new laptop. There are so many improvements in new versions of electronics!
Customer: Yeah, maybe, I’m not sure…
Salesperson: For instance, this newer version has this amazing feature which allows you to…
Dealing with difficult customers
Difficult customers can be pretty tough to manage, but not if you remember one important thing: Don’t take it personally! They’re having a problem with the product or with company policies, not with you.
You’re there to help them find the best option for them. So just listen to what they’re saying and try to ignore the tone and negative words that they’re using so you can focus on finding the best solution.
Customer: I bought this product here last week, but it’s already broken. I’m so angry because I paid a lot of money for it!
Salesperson: I understand you are upset. If you have the warranty certificate, we should be able to replace it for you.
Customer: I don’t want a replacement! What if that breaks down too? I want my money back!
Salesperson: I’m afraid we don’t have that option. You could, however, choose another product in this price range.
Closing the sale
The whole sales conversation can go really smoothly, but if you don’t close the sale, the customer will leave and you won’t achieve your sales goal.
Once you’ve had a good conversation and feel the customer is ready to make a decision, take charge and move the conversation towards the final point: Paying for the product or signing the contract.
Customer: I guess I like this one in black more than the other one in grey.
Salesperson: Great! If I place an order now, you’ll get it by tomorrow morning.
Customer: Sure, I’d like that.
Salesperson: We need an advance payment guarantee of 20%. You’ll pay the remaining 80% when you get the product.
Customer: That sounds great, thank you!
Customer: This seems to look better on me than the other one, doesn’t it?
Salesperson: I like this one more too. Do you want to use our installment system or buy it now at a discount?
Customer: I’d rather pay up-front and get the discount. How much is it?
Customer: Cool, let’s do this.
Of course, there are many ways in which these conversations could go, depending on each situation in particular.
Here’s a full example of a sales conversation. You can practice role-playing this with another student, then make your own versions for similar situations.
Situation: It’s the beginning of December and a customer enters an electronics store. He seems to be looking for a specific product when the salesperson approaches him.
Salesperson: Hi, are you looking for something in particular?
Customer: Yeah, I saw this set of wireless headphones on your website at a really good price. I think it was 50% off or something like that.
Salesperson: Unfortunately we only had that offer last weekend, after Black Friday.
Customer: Hmm, I’m really disappointed. Have you run out of stock?
Salesperson: We still have the headphones, but they are only 20% off now. It’s still a very good price.
Customer: I guess I’ll just wait for the after-Christmas sales.
Salesperson: I could offer you something even better at the same 20% off price. The headphones you wanted don’t have a wired option, and we have another set that has this option.
Customer: But I don’t want a wired option, I want them to be wireless.
Salesperson: Yeah, I totally get you. But you see, these are wireless and have an extra feature. After your battery runs out, you can still use them if you plug the cable in. That’s just until they’re charged again. This way, you aren’t left without your music when the batteries run out.
Customer: Hmm, that sounds great, but how long do the batteries last?
Salesperson: Around 20 hours, but it depends on the volume level.
Customer: 20 hours is pretty good. But then would I still be needing the wired option? I mean, if the batteries last so long…
Salesperson: This is a better product than the one we had on 50% off last weekend. You’d be paying a bit more, but the added feature makes all the difference. And yes, I think the wired option is worth it. Once you get used to batteries lasting so long, you may forget to charge them in advance and then you need to stop your music and charge them. Really inconvenient, if you ask me.
Customer: I guess you’re right. Okay, I’ll go with those. Can I pay for them now?
Salesperson: Sure, do you want them packed as a gift?
Customer: Not really, they’re for me.
Salesperson: Here you are. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the headphones.
Customer: Thank you for your help!
Once you’ve practiced the conversations above, you’ll see you’ll feel much more confident when adapting your speech to different versions and situations.
The most important thing for you as a salesperson is to be as helpful as you can be, while also respecting the rules of the company that employs you.
And remember to smile!
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