You’d think extroverted, chatty sales reps would be good to promote your business, right?
Sure, it sounds like a good thing.
But the biggest problem with a fast-talking sales person is they never shut up.
And that’s a concern, especially when your prospects don’t feel heard.
Ever have a conversation with a loved one and get distracted…
Quickly followed by a “are you even listening to me?”
You know how that story ends.
In this day and age, there’s no place for a pushy, aggressive sales rep.
Not over the long term anyway.
You need to focus less on rattling off the sales script, and get the customer talking.
Stop reciting benefits and features, and actually figure out the problem a prospect has.
Start putting their needs above your own, and pitching a solution they truly need.
That’s when your pipeline gets exciting, and your customers become your biggest fans.
Traditional sales training pushes too hard
Watch any movie, from Boiler Room to the Wolf of Wall Street and you’ll see this in action.
Young, hungry sales reps are brought in, and turned into “killers”
With aggressive sales training, high targets, and an atmosphere with zero customer respect.
Pity that Jordan ended up in prison, and most boiler room call centers are borderline illegal.
Because while these sales tactics do work, on a particular type of clientele…
They don’t provide a foundation for any sort of decent customer relationship.
So, what’s the alternative?
Put the customer at the heart of the sale
And the easiest way to make the customer the center of a sales call is to listen.
To ask the kind of questions that get them talking.
Get them opening up about their needs, and the motivations behind the deal.
I like to ask prospects questions like…
- “Tell me, what brought on your call today?”
- “Explain the help you need from me, in your own words…”
- “What other solutions have you tried?”
- “What worked well, what didn’t work so well?”
- “What does the ideal solution look like for you and your business?”
- “Is there anyone else we should loop into these discussions?”
- “What else can you tell me that’s relevant to this project?”
Get them taking, then shut up, sit back and start listening.
Tap the power of the strong silent type
Ever have a friend who was always called the strong, silent type?
There’s a simple psychological technique at play here.
The words you speak have value, and the more you talk, the more you dilute it.
On a sales call, you need to slow down, and speak less.
Because the quality of what you say, is more important than the quantity.
I’ll admit, I struggle with this…
When I proposed to my wife it was such a machine gun barrage of words it took her a few seconds to actually process what just happened.
We laugh about it now, but I do regret not taking a breath first, and slowing the heck down.
Same logic applies to your sales calls.
Too much talking makes you appear nervous and unconfident.
Slow down, speak less, and make your words count.
Get comfortable with an extended silence
It seems weird, but I like to play a game when I’m doing a sales call.
Of course, this works best when you’re already on a good run, and the prospect is happy.
You need to get comfortable with silence.
In negotiations it’s a common tactic, as a power play to get the other side to open up
But it also works in sales.
Because silence makes people uncomfortable, so they get nervous and start talking.
Talking more than they normally would.
And when your client is talking this is a good thing, because you listen.
Especially when they’re off-balance.
Because that’s when a hidden motivation or pain points comes up.
And you can use this extra insight to bring the deal home.
Don’t play all your cards at once
Now I get a lot of flak for this here in Asia, where things run on “local time”
But growing up punctuality was a big deal for me.
It was a sign of respect, both of your time and those waiting to meet you.
I’ll admit, traffic has often gotten the better of me.
And there have been times where I’ve run meetings far over time.
But when I started looking back, my most successful meetings were the short ones.
Where I was on time, we hit the key points, and I left perhaps even 5 or 10 minutes early.
When I started analyzing why these meetings worked best, I found the key.
I wasn’t playing all my cards at once.
I’d go in, (being punctual and all), and we’d talk about the key issues.
Then, I’d have to run to another meeting and I’d leave… but with a promise.
To send them an email on the points we hadn’t got to,
Or the extra info they’d asked for.
It created a kind of a required follow up, that allowed me to continue hitting touch points.
While demonstrating I was in fact, highly responsive and could deliver on my promises.
It also allowed clients the time to debrief themselves after our meeting,
And come back with any questions of their own.
Of course, this strategy did extend the sales process somewhat,
But the meetings I ran like this had much higher conversions.
So, don’t play all your cards at once.
Leave your clients wanting more.
And close them in the follow-up meeting.
When I approach a sales call these days I’m aiming to speak less than a third of the time.
My goal is to get the client talking,
Use extended silences and think carefully in all of my responses,
And give prospects a reason to read my follow up emails,
So, I can close them in another meeting.
It may lack the glitz and glamor of the sales floors we all imagine on Wall Street.
But by giving clients a chance to get a word in, you’ll quickly figure out how to sell to them.
And once you do that, well my friend, that’s when things get exciting.
Here’s to your sales success.