The Sales Conversation – What can go wrong?

The Sales Conversation – What can go wrong?

When I speak to small business owners I often discover that even though they want more clients they also admit that they often find they shy away from sales situations.   They extremely uncomfortable about entering into a sales conversation because of their fears and worries about all the things that could “go wrong”:

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the blog.

Some of the things that they worry about are:

  • What if the client says No?  How will they deal with that rejection? One client confessed that she feared that if she got a “No” it would be so paralysing to her confidence that she might never be brave enough to have a sales conversation again!
  • The client thinking you are salesy or pushy.
  • The client thinking you are just after their money or in some other way motivated by your own gain.
  • Saying something “wrong” and accidentally putting the client off working with you.

These fears of rejection or of coming across as pushy or “salesy” creates what I call a “self-consciousness” around the sales conversation.  With the business owner worrying about how they’ll be perceived, and what might “go wrong”.

But when you stop to think about it, these aren’t really the things you should worry about going wrong!

In my opinion, the real things that can go wrong in a sales conversation include:

  • The client really needs help and they don’t get it because you failed to clearly communicate how you can help, the value of your work to them and how they will benefit from it.
  • The client really needs help and wants to go ahead but doesn’t because you missed out an important step in the sales process – sometimes it can be just one question that makes all the difference.
  • The client had some concerns that you could have cleared up if you’d only asked them directly if they had any.   Or you did ask directly but then shied away from fully addressing them.
  • You don’t clearly ask the client for a decision and they go away feeling in limbo, leaving both of you feeling a bit “off” as the conversation and decision has been left hanging.
  • You don’t agree a follow up process so neither of you feel clear and both of you are left wondering what the next steps are.

In each of these cases the reason I say it’s “gone wrong” is because it boils down to someone who could really benefit from your help not getting that help – whether it’s business, career, relationships or health.  And they decided not to make that change (or didn’t make a decision at all) because you didn’t connect deeply and guide them through a supportive sales conversation.

Why does this happen?

So why do so many sales conversations “go wrong” in this way, leaving both parties feeling dissatisfied?  With people who really need help not getting the support they need, and business owners not getting enough clients for their business to really feel in flow?

Well here’s the thing:  Very often it can be exactly because of your over-worrying about those things I talked about at the beginning of this article –  an internal focus on yourself and your own anxieties, instead of an outward focus on the client (in other words your heart-centred focus is lacking).

When you’re worrying about…

“What if they say No?”

“What if I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about?”

“What if they think I’m just after their money?”

“What if they think I’m being pushy or salesy??

“What if I don’t say the right thing?”

All of your focus is internal, focused on you and what you are doing and saying.

Compare this to when you come to the conversation with an open heart, a sense of expansion and possibility, a commitment and intention to get to the bottom of whatever problem they are struggling with or whatever big dream or vision they want to achieve, and with a curiosity about what might be getting in their way and whether you can help with that.  And a sales process to guide that conversation.

In other words imagine coming to the call with a full focus on what is best for the client.

The sales conversation - what could go wrong

When that happens you’re not focused on yourself at all.  Instead your focus is outward, squarely on the client, and instead of the worries above, the conversation in your head is more like:

“What is in the best interest of this person who I’m talking to right now?”

How can I most serve them?”

“What is the absolute best outcome for them?”

“Do I believe it’s worth them making this investment in time and money to make this change?”

“Do I believe I’m truly the best person to help them with this?”

“What is getting in their way, and how could I help them overcome that?”

This focus on the client rather than on your own personal worries and concerns allows you to have a conversation that comes from service, rather than feeling there is a set of “right and wrong” things you can say.

It allows you to trust your intuition in that moment, to just “know” the perfect next thing to ask, because you are so tuned in to them.

It allows you to ask much deeper and even braver questions than you otherwise might.   And to explore issues they might not otherwise feel comfortable opening up about – because the sense of connection is so strong and they  can tell that you are asking these questions or saying these things because you truly care, and you want to understand so you can make the best recommendation for them.

What stops you?

When I put it like that, I know you know it makes sense.   But I also know that in the moment of the sales conversation, or the minutes leading up to it, it’s easy for your anxieties to drop out of  the “external heart-centred focus”, and into the “internal, fear-centred focus”.

And the main reason for this is nothing other than the conversations that are going on in your own head!  All of those things you are telling yourself about what the “right and wrong” thing to do and say is, how things “should” be and the fear of somehow getting it wrong.

So my advice to you is that next time you are going into a sales conversation take a few moments beforehand to get yourself into a more expanded, heart-centred emotional state, and away from the more contracted fear-based state.

How to get in the external, heart-centred focus:

There are different ways to get into the external, heart-centred focus I’m talking about:

  • Meditating and focusing on your connection to a higher power – and putting your trust in that higher power to know what is best for you and the client.
  • Picking up the phone to a friend for a high-energy chat (it’s important to pick the right sort of friend for this!)
  • Putting on some upbeat music and dancing around to lift your energy.

This may seem simple, but I know that what you’ll find is that if you go into your sales conversations from a more expanded, client-focused and non-attached place:

  • You’ll enjoy the sales conversation much more.
  • It will feel so much more like “serving” than trying to persuade someone to do something.
  • You’ll be far more likely to be able to trust yourself to know the right thing to say at the right time.
  • You’ll have a deeper sense of connection with the client – and they will feel it too!
  • It will allow you to have a more searching conversation and really explore what’s going on under the surface, including those things that need to be uncovered if the client is to decide to work with you.
  • The client will have a positive experience and even if they don’t go ahead and work with you they’ll be much more likely to refer others to you – or come back to you when the time is right.

Let me know how you get on – what will you start to do to lift your energy before your sales conversations?  Do type in the comments below – I read them all, and I always love to hear from you.

Learn How to have a Truly Effective Sales Conversation – Free Course

If you’d like to learn how to have the sort of heart-centred sales conversation I’ve talked about today, you can sign up for a FREE 35 minute training on authentic and heart-centred sales – The 7 Steps to Yes!  You’ll be able to put this into practice in your very next sales conversation and I know you’ll notice a huge difference in how it feels:   Sign up here for the 7 Steps to Yes!  

With love,


"THE 7 STEPS TO YES" Watch these short videos and start to fall in love with sales

Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Alison on September 4, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    So true – yet so easy to miss. Thank you for reframing that, Catherine.:)

    • Catherine on September 13, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      Your welcome Alison, so glad it was helpful

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