When All Else Fails, Say LESS
I think we all know that salespeople like to talk. In fact, for many, it’s one of the primary reasons they became salespeople in the first place. As a kid, I remember people telling me I could sell ice to Eskimos and that I was pretty verbose from a young age.
And don’t get me wrong: the gift of gab is a very important and valuable trait to have if one hopes to be successful in the selling life. HOWEVER, what we don’t realize is that there are cases when we can say too much, or the wrong thing, or the wrong thing at the wrong time, or any other combination of verbal errors that derails our sales success.
So here are a few tips and tricks to try to retrain your brain to speak effectively, with what I like to call a "verbal economy" that just might help you win more sales, more trust, and more loyal clients.
1. Instead of responding with a statement, respond with a question. For example, when you hear a potential customer say, "We require that our suppliers guarantee on-time delivery," your first instinct might be to launch into a big positioning statement about how your company has always had a reputation for on-time delivery and blah blah blah. INSTEAD try: "Interesting. Why is that important to you?" As my OLD friend Bill Farquharson always says, "you learn very little with your mouth open."
2. "Tell me more." I have a theory that our society is becoming one in which most conversations are a superficial exchange of statements, with no real depth. We seem to fall into the "me too" trap very easily. What I mean by that, is that you tell me something, and then I respond with something similar that happened to me, and we come away with no real understanding of each others’ motivations, desires, or experiences. So simply saying "Tell me more" is a great way to show that you are really there FOR THEM (which you should be) and that you have no agenda other than to understand more deeply.
3. Sketch out in your head how the exchange will go in advance of the meeting, making sure to have PLENTY of great questions to ask. Every question should have a purpose and lead to the conclusion that you and your company bring a lot of value to the table. So don’t waste. Seek first to understand and get to the real heart of their behavior and decision-making processes.
4. Get more comfortable with silence—it is OK to ask a question and let some quiet fill the space. That being said...
5. Resist the urge to put words in another person’s mouth. Ask your question, and then SHUT UP. See number 4...it’s a LOOP (for a reason!)
I hope that I was able to get my point across. To be honest, this whole topic has emerged from my personal life, which I attribute to my getting a little bit older, and a whole lot wiser. You get into less trouble if you shut up. You give people less ammunition, and you can cultivate a persona with a little more mystique if you keep stuff to yourself. Being a great questioner is a lot more interesting than being a good talker. Try it!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.