Every time I give a selling skills workshop or presentation many attendees say to me that customers have the impression that salespeople talk too much. Well, they are right. Most salespeople talk way too much. In today’s market, chatty salespeople are bombarding their prospects with a huge amount of information just to close the sales. A lot of research shows that the average salesperson talks over 81 percent of the time in a selling situation according to an article published by Marc Wayshak on Entrepreneur.com here.
Well, not only is that approach ineffective; it’s losing you sales. You can close more sales, simply by talking less. Here are seven ways to do it:
1. Be distinct from the competition. When prospects perceive you as similar to other salespeople, you are in trouble. As a result, your goal is to be perceived as totally distinct from the competition. The next time a prospect asks you why he should do business with you, you should reply, “I’m not sure that you should. Would it be okay if I asked you a few questions to better understand your situation?”
This approach is different, more credible, and immediately separates you from other salespeople.
2. Understand your prospect’s challenges. Most salespeople spend their time trying to persuade prospects rather than taking the time to understand the problem that the prospect is facing. Remember: Prospects are looking to solve certain challenges; they are not looking to be sold. Take the time to learn about their key problems first.
3. Understand their goals. When a prospect solves his challenges, he can then achieve his goals. Once you’ve fully understood the prospect’s challenges, it’s time to understand what he’s looking to accomplish. Whether you sell to consumers or businesses, all prospects are looking to accomplish specific goals with your product or service. Understand what those goals are.
4. Develop a workable budget. Many salespeople simply quote a price to their prospect without ever having a good conversation about money conversation. This approach is costing you thousands — maybe even millions — of dollars in lost sales. From now on, help prospective customers develop a budget to solve their challenges and accomplish their goals. It doesn’t have to be an exact number. A range will do. This will help you determine whether someone is qualified for your service or product before you present your solution.
5. Understand their decision-making process. Many entrepreneurs and sales people feel stuck when potential customers tell them they need to “run it by a committee” before committing to anything. In most cases, the salespeople had no idea that a committee was even involved in making the decision. Well, whose fault is that? Salespeople rarely ask what the prospect’s decision making process is — but they should. Here are two examples of good questions to ask: “Who else is involved in this decision?” and “How do you typically make decisions like this?”
6. Make sure they’re committed to their goals. Before you get to a presentation of your product or service, you want to be sure that the prospect is committed to solving her challenges and achieving her goals. If they aren’t, you’re wasting your time by even presenting a solution. Your time will be better spent with other prospects who are committed to solving their challenges and achieving their goals. Before you present your solution, ask, “How committed are you to actually solving these challenges right now?”
7. Keep it short. Most salespeople spend most of their sales meetings presenting. That’s why they’re doing all of the talking in the first place. Rather than spending most of your time presenting, spend the majority of your time doing steps one through six. Get to really understand the prospect’s situation and decide whether he’s invested in finding a solution. Then give a presentation based on solving his challenges and achieving his goals. Don’t present anything else. The prospect doesn’t care about every single feature and benefit of your product or service. He only cares about accomplishing his goals. So keep it short.
Putting all of these ideas into practice requires that you actually talk less. A great salesperson will talk no more than 20 percent of the time in a selling situation. Close your mouth a little more and you might just find you’ll close many more deals as a result.
After all, in today’s highly competitive marketplace, a successful salesperson is a good listener.