Call it “sales.” Call it “client conversion.” Call it whatever you want. But if you're a salesperson, you’re going to be in front of prospective clients all day and you want to say and do the right things to get them to trust and want to work with you.

For more than 20 years I’ve been teaching professionals, small business owners, and salespeople how to get more new clients by being transparent. You have a process, do you not, to convert a prospect to a client? You know the questions you want to ask, right? You know the things you want to say? You know how many steps it’s going to take and how many phone calls? If you're planning on winging it, don't. We all need to have a process.

The straightest line to building trust with buyers and gaining agreement to move forward is to be transparent with your process. And this means you need to be transparent in your communication and language.

First of all, let prospects know how many steps are in your process. Make it clear that you use a three-step process, or a five-step process, or whatever.

Here's an example of something you might say at the outset of a relationship:

“I’ve developed a process that I believe is the best way for us to determine if I might be a resource for you, or if we have something worth discussing.”

Keep in mind that the phrases “best way” or “works the best” are powerful words in the world of sales and influence. Most people want to know what "works the best.”

Once you've gotten buy-in at the beginning, you can dig in. Remember that sales is just a series of permissions. You gain permission to have the appointment. You gain permission to ask the buyer probing questions. You ask permission to keep the process going.

With this in mind, using transparent language at each and every step increases your chances of keeping your prospect on board. Here's a transparent phrase you can use to advance to the next step in the process:

“Here’s what we’ll go through. Here’s what we’re likely to do. Does that sound okay? Does that feel right for you?”

The buyer will either say "yes" or they’ll want to make an adjustment. That's fine. Make the change and then get the “yes” to continue with your process.

Transparency should extend all the way to the close. When it comes to “asking for the business,” here’s some language to consider:

“If I were you, if I were in your situation, this is what I would do. What do you think about proceeding in this manner? How does that feel to you?”

If the prospect has a relatively open personality, say, “How do you feel about that?” On the other hand, if they’re more of a guarded type of individual, try, “What do you think about that?” In either case, make a recommendation and see how it sits with them.

If you get a positive response, don't just sit there and hope they’ll ask, “Where do I sign?” Make it crystal clear where you'd like to go next:

"Great, when would you like to get started? Shall we get started today? May I send our basic agreement to you?”

When you’re transparent with your process, everybody knows what’s coming. There are no surprises. Moving forward to the next step is always obvious, and signing a deal becomes almost a foregone conclusion.

If you have any result-producing tips you’d like to share with me, please send them to

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Originally published Sep 16, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


Sales Communication