Verbal communication skills for selling

Your communication skills determine your chances of a sale — from your opening pitch to your closing statements. Developing your questioning, vocal and conversational skills will help you build on a strong first impression by gaining trust and establishing credibility.

Questioning skills

Asking appropriate, purposeful questions can help you identify whether your customer is likely to buy your products, and move them through the selling process.

There are several types of questions that can help you in the sales process.

Closed questions

Closed questions require a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. For example: 'Are you looking for a television today?'

Closed questions are used to:

  • find out facts
  • limit or guide discussion
  • gather basic information from the customer that you can use to generate an open question.

Open questions

Open questions require a customer to explain or elaborate. For example: 'What type of product are you looking for?'

Open questions are used to:

  • gather specific information so you can determine your customer's wants and needs
  • build relationships with customers so that they are comfortable dealing with you.

Probing questions

Probing questions are about a specific topic to uncover more information. For example: 'What type of television do you think would fit best on your wall?'

Probing questions are used to:

  • obtain more specific information in order to fully understand your customer's needs
  • uncover and clarify your customer's perceptions and opinions.

Confirming questions

Confirming questions are designed to check that your customer understands what you've said. For example: 'Which of these features would benefit you most?'

Confirming questions are used to check that you've successfully communicated information to your customer.

Summary confirmation questions

Summary confirmation questions are designed to check that you understand what your customer has told you. For example: 'Are you saying you'd prefer to order the next model in our range?'

Summary confirmation questions are used to:

  • check that you understand your customer's needs
  • check that the benefits you've outlined meet their needs.

Conversational skills

Good salespeople look for a way to make a connection with their customer, and build a conversation based on trust and understanding. Conversation skills include:

  • asking non-confronting questions to show you genuinely care about your customer's needs
  • talking knowledgeably about your product or service
  • displaying interest and warmth
  • avoiding bias or stereotyping
  • adjusting to your customer's verbal style
  • telling the truth
  • offering observations that show you understand
  • accepting and acknowledging your customer's opinions
  • refraining from interrupting or correcting unnecessarily
  • watching for and responding to signs of discomfort or boredom
  • being diplomatic
  • making small talk — when it's called for and to an appropriate degree.

Vocal skills

Good communicators know that what they say is often less important than the way they say it. Use your voice to make an impact by:

  • adjusting your pitch to suit the conversation
  • adjusting your volume to ensure clarity, and suit your customer's comfort and hearing needs
  • speaking in a steady tone of voice to show calm and confidence
  • slowing the speed of your speech so it is calm and clear
  • varying the inflection in your voice to suit your message - to show enthusiasm, common sense, interest, and gravity
  • enunciating your words clearly
  • varying the quality and intensity of your voice to hold interest
  • conveying meaning using the sound of your voice to reinforce your messages.