Early in sales my career I heard the expression “Many a sale has been killed by the jawbone of an ass”. I heard it from my first sales manager. He shared that gem in response to me asking him “So how’d I do”? after he observed me on a sales call. He went on to tell me I had a tendency to talk too much (for the record he wasn’t the first or last person to tell me that).
Over the last several years I’ve watched 100’s of sellers on 1000’s of sales calls do the same thing—speaking when it’s un-wanted, un-needed or un-necessary. I call it the “Un-sale” or “Shooting from the lip”. Usually the seller means well. They feel they are contributing to the process. Providing more information. Answering possible questions or objections that haven’t been raised. Excited about sharing the features and benefits of their product or service.
Of course the problem with talking too much is buyers feel they aren’t being heard. They don’t or can’t connect with you, your company, your product or service. Often they can’t grasp the real benefit of your offering because they’re overwhelmed with information and no time to process. Oh and they don’t care about most of the stuff you’re telling them. They care about what’s in it for them. Speak to that!
Here are three tips I’ve used successfully to speak less and listen more..
1. Take two beats
Take a 2 second pause after the buyer has spoken before responding or speaking again. In that short space (it will seem like an eternity) of mentally counting “One-one thousand, two one thousand”…the buyer will often share even more information. An immediate response or reply can stall or short-change a conversation. This happens all the time because one of the communicators (usually the seller) feels an immediate and overpowering need to fill any dead air.
2. Ask them to tell you more
Buyers are so used to being interrupted they seldom tell you the whole story. They’ll answer your question or provide some insight about where they are at in the sales cycle, but there’s usually more they’ll share if you prompt them. After a buyer shares something important encourage them to tell you more. Follow up questions can increase the likeliness of learning more. Some of my personal favorites are; “Why is that?” “And then what happened?” or “Can you tell me more about that?”
3. Never (ever-ever) interrupt or talk over someone
As obvious as this seems it still remains one of the most frequent transgressions in sales. In addition to being rude and putting you in a bad light it disrupts the buyer’s train of thought. Something important you need to know or learn will get missed.
In sales silence can truly be golden.