Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale? Selling is not about telling. It’s about helping the prospect relate to your product or service to the satisfaction of their wants and needs. It’s also about helping them discover needs of which they were previously unaware. How do you accomplish this? By asking thought-provoking questions and then listening, really listening!
Questions are vital to moving the sales process forward. It’s the fuel that runs your selling system! What we do after is just as important as asking great questions. The best thing you can do as a sales and business professionals is to SHUT UP! And that can be difficult because we perceive silence as awkward and want to jump in to help the prospect. (Watch Sandler Rule # 14: A Prospect Who is Listening is No Prospect at All.)
For me, it took some time getting comfortable with this idea. With my natural behavior style – being on the talkative and sociable side of the equation – I have derailed a prospect’s train of thought on a number of occasions, because I was too anxious to help them with a question that required time to reflect and formulate the appropriate response. Looking back, I have extended my selling cycles with some prospects and killed opportunities because I set roadblocks impeding them from their own self-discovery. Instead of letting it be about them and how they perceive the question, I let my own perceptions get in the way. This resulted in missed opportunities to gather critical insights to move the sales process forward.
Instead of trying to rescue yourself and the prospect from that uncomfortable silence, appreciate it, welcome it. When you get the prospect talking, shut your mouth and don’t interrupt! You run the risk of wasting that valuable question by jolting the prospect’s thought process off track. Every time you butt in, you lose insights that could help you qualify the opportunity. Additionally, you can disrupt and prolong the prospect’s ability to discover the best reasons to buy from you. (Watch Sandler Rule # 15: The Best Sales Presentation You’ll Ever Give, The Prospect Will Never See)
You can open your ears or you can open your mouth, but you can’t do both at the same time. When you ask a great question that makes your prospect think, let them finish with their response and then ask questions or make comments. Try not to think ahead about what you’re going to say until the prospect has finished speaking. If you’re thinking about what you are going to say, you’re not really listening!
Keep in mind you can lose a sale by talking too much, but you’ll rarely lose a sale by listening too much. David Sandler always suggested that the prospect should be talking for 70 percent of the time. Typically, however, the opposite occurs; try not to be that typical salesperson. Ask great questions, then keep your mouth shut and you will start to develop more sales opportunities.