Is Anyone Listening?

If there’s one thing salespeople really like to do, it’s talk! And let’s face it, most of us are good at it. We’re people oriented, outgoing, enthusiastic, witty and, if the truth be known, somewhat charming. These qualities allow us to open doors and close sales.

These same qualities can also cause us to turn off prospects and lose sales. Actually, the qualities aren’t the problem. It’s our inability to control the natural result of these qualities. Let’s face it — outgoing, enthusiastic people like to talk. It’s something we do well so we tend to do it often. Sometimes too often.

Tarnished Image

If there’s one thing that has tarnished our image as professionals, it is the perception that salespeople are fast talkers. A lot of people think that salespeople are inoculated at birth with a phonograph needle and that they wouldn’t listen at all if they didn’t believe it was their turn to talk next.

I’ve always believed that a good salesperson is not a fast talker but a smooth listener. You don’t have to stifle your natural tendencies to communicate (talk), but you do have to learn to control when and how much you should be talking.

Causes of Overtalking

There are nine basic causes of excessive talking. See if you suffer from any of these problems. If you do, remember, the first step to solving a problem is to recognize that you have one.

It’s OK.  Some salespeople really believe that telling is selling and the more they tell (talk), the more they sell. If you think it’s OK, think again.

Pressure.  Sometimes the pressure is self-generated, but often it comes from outside forces such as a sales manager. Wherever it comes from, the pressure causes you to fall back into old habits or beliefs (a good salesperson is a fast talker), and you try to talk yourself into a sale.

No pressure.  The prospect has said yes and the sale is closed. Now the pressure is off, and you can ease up and socialize a bit (talk)! However, the pressure is also off the prospect. All of a sudden, he remembers a reason to change his mind and the sale is up in the air again. Remember the 3Cs — Close the sale, Close your mouth and Close the door.

Nervousness.  When I get nervous one of two things happens. Either my sense of humour runs wild and I end up saying some outrageous things, or I just start babbling and try to fit as many feet as possible into my mouth. As soon as I catch myself doing this, I stop, ask the prospect a question, and shut up.

Insensitivity.  You don’t watch for the prospect’s signals and often miss both the buying and non-buying signals. How many times does the prospect have to look at his watch before you get the idea that you might be boring him? Watch the prospect’s eyes. When they glaze over, it’s probably because you’re talking too much.

Lack of curiosity.  Lack of curiosity or interest in the other person will generally cause you to talk about yourself. A healthy curiosity will get you asking about the other person and get the prospect talking. A sincere interest in others will go a long way to curbing excessive gabbing.

Selfishness.  If your primary purpose is to line your pockets with your prospect’s money, you will have a tendency to be verbally pushy. Beware — selfishness creates commission breath and once the prospect gets a whiff of it, she’ll take off in the other direction and leave you talking to yourself.

Ego.  Excessive talking about your product or service is one thing. Excessive talking about yourself is quite another. The prospect simply doesn’t care. In over 30 years of selling to thousands of prospects, I can count on less than ten fingers the number of people who have ever been really interested in me and what I’ve done. This is another case of watching the prospect’s eyes. When you find that the lights are on but no one’s home, it’s time to shut up.

Poor preparation.  When you don’t know what to say, you tend to say everything! This is a close cousin to nervousness. In fact, it’s the lack of preparation that causes nervousness. Prepare for your calls, know what you want to ask, and you’ll find yourself in control.

Stay in Control

In both our Power Selling and LISTEN…to Sell! sales training programs, we emphasized that the best way to control a sale (or a conversation for that matter) is to ask questions.

Knowing what questions to ask is the sign of a good salesperson. Listening to the answers is the mark of a Sales Professional.