I hated that saying, but to this day, years later, it left an impression and a great visual.
There are two main reasons you want to listen more than you talk when having a conversation with a buyer:
1) You won't learn anything if you do all the talking.
2) You may say too much when talking and shut down a real opportunity prematurely.
Let's think about the first point. When you do all the talking it is as if you think you have all the answers already. There are two problems with that theory:
1) You don't have all the answers, even if you think you do.
2) You can't possibly know what the customer is thinking are their concerns or their hopes or vision until you let them talk.
As a talker, you focus on getting your pre-conceived points across. How can you learn when all you do is talk?
Salespeople are notorious for saying more than we need to.
Have you ever tried to buy something and the salesperson just kept talking and talking, working to further tell you why you should buy something when you were, in fact, ready to buy?
We've gone through all the training, and have so many stories to share - so the suggestion today is this:
Be selective about what you talk about.
Think ahead, and work to focus on listening to the buyer to hear what is on their mind.
Ask powerful questions. Powerful questions are those that elicit thoughtful responses.
Example of a question that is not powerful: "How are you today?"
Example of a question that is more powerful: "Compared to this day last year, how are things going?"
Consider the art of conversation, not just the opening of your mouth and stuff spewing out. I'm serious.
I used to work with a guy named Tom. He talked so much that buyers would sometimes ask to talk with someone else. Tom had all the answers, and if he could just get in front of more people, he figured he could close tons more business. Tom was not fun to be around, and he gave some of us headaches just thinking about talking with him.
Don't be a guy like Tom - instead, be a guy or gal who is interested in another person. With curiosity, ask meaningful questions and hear what the other person says. Perhaps they are a buyer, perhaps they are just an interesting human being - you won't know until you listen to them and hear all that they have to say.
At the beginning of this post I said there were two main reasons why you want to listen more than you talk when having a conversation with a buyer. We covered the first reason, but how about the second reason that you might say too much?
Don't Call Their Baby Ugly
How many times has a sales rep opened their mouth and said something offensive - even though they didn't mean to? Often we hear that one of the reps we work with has made a political comment, or a business comment, or a family comment that adversely affected the prospective buyer.
A classic example is when someone is working on a project in the company and as a sales rep you decide to let them know why that project will fail, or why it is a bad project. Then you find out that your contact person championed it or is overseeing it. That's what we mean by calling their baby ugly. Until you know what their baby is, you need to ask more questions, and gain deeper understanding of the environment you are working in.
What can you do today to be a better listener?
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2012 and 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling.