People often ask me how my background as a lawyer fits in with what I do now as a sales consultant. At first glance, many people don’t see a connection between practicing law and working in sales, and how lessons learned in law might transfer to sales.
There Are a Number of Connections Though.
First off, law strengthens your persuasion and presentation skills, which are both crucial assets to have when working in sales. Another major – and critical – way law prepares you for sales is through scripting. When you watch a T.V. show like Law & Order or a movie like A Few Good Men, you see lawyers in the courtroom asking witnesses pointed questions to get them to reveal important information. What you don’t see are the many hours of preparation that go into these seamless cross-examinations on the bench. Lawyers script these conversations to help them better achieve their goals. It’s a practice that should also be used in sales. Why, you ask? Stick with me.
Whenever I was involved in a trial, my team and I would spend weeks before the trial scripting each and every conversation, with our witnesses and with witnesses on the opposite side. We generated a long list of questions that touched on the key points we were trying to make in the case, and we role-played those questions with each other day after day, practicing and preparing for meaningful conversations during the trial.
Have A Strong Base to Start With.
We built our question list knowing our actual conversations wouldn’t go exactly as we’d planned. In actual questioning, we asked follow-up questions and adapted our line of questioning based on how witnesses responded. But we had that strong base to start with. I liked to think of it like an actor preparing for a big film role. Actors memorize lines and then practice their delivery so they’re well prepared when the film’s rolling.
Scripting and role-playing are essential tools to use in sales, and particularly during initial discovery conversations. Carefully preparing before speaking with a potential customer can make all the difference in whether you win new business. Scripting will help you hone in on your value proposition and what differentiates you from your competitors, it will give you focus, and most importantly, it will help you determine whether your product or service can help the potential customer solve a problem.
Research shows that time and time again the best salesperson talks for around 30% of the conversation and listens for 60-70%. This is possible when you’ve taken the time to develop the right set of questions that will get the customer talking.
Once you’ve developed your questions, set aside plenty of time for role-playing with your sales manager. See where the conversation goes, which questions are working and which aren’t and adjust accordingly. Then, deliver them consistently.
I’ve Found Best Practice Sales Conversations Include Questions Such As:
1) Tell me about your role and how it relates to [your product or service here]?
2) Are you experiencing problem x? If so, what are some of the consequences of having problem x for the company and for you as an individual?
3) Do you see value in working together, and why?
Before you meet with your next potential customer, think about your plan. Do you have a well-thought-out question list you’ve practiced with a colleague, or are you just planning to wing it? The best salespeople prep and practice. They have a script. That’s a crucial lesson I learned from the law. At least that’s what I tell my mom when she asks why I spent so much money on law school but ended up in sales.