Whoever said talk is cheap didn't know much about sales. Talk-too much talk, that is-can cost a lot.
This is a difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn, and that's understandable. People in sales tend to have outgoing personalities. They enjoy good conversation, and the longer they are in sales, the better they get at making small talk, establishing an emotional connection with the prospect, and driving a conversation toward the specific end of closing a sale.
Sales professionals are also knowledgeable about the product or service they are selling. They work hard to master the intricacies of their products and services, and they take understandable pride in what they have learned. They try to anticipate all the questions a prospect might ask and develop answers that inspire trust and confidence.
And all that knowledge and preparation, acquired through hard work, is something they are eager to show off. For that reason, they find it hard not to display this knowledge whenever they get the chance.
This is a mistake-a mistake that can cost them dearly.
Sometimes, as I have discussed before in these columns, sales professionals are so eager to impress their prospects with their product knowledge that they use a lot of jargon. This can leave prospects not only confused, because they don't understand what the sales professional is talking about, but also intimidated. They feel at a disadvantage.
That's one reason not to talk too much about your product's attributes.
The other reason, which can be even more dangerous, is that you will inadvertently reveal information that makes the sale harder, rather than easier, to close-and sometimes utterly impossible.
What typically happens is that a sales presentation will go so well that the buyer will be completely comfortable with the product or service just as it has been presented and is ready to draw up the paperwork to seal the deal. Then the sales person, in a misguided attempt to be even more helpful, will make the fatal mistake of answering a question that hasn't been asked. Sometimes this information comes from a member of the sales team who has thought of a question that he or she thinks should have been asked and decides to volunteer information that suddenly makes the prospect uncomfortable. Once that has occurred, the whole deal falls apart.
I've seen it happen more than once, and the result is almost always the same. A sale that was within grasp suddenly slips away.
I can't honestly say that I didn't take away something from these disappointing misadventures. I learned something from them. I learned from bitter experience something I am passing along to you so you don't have to learn it the hard way, too.
Here's the lesson: Don't ever answer a question that hasn't been asked.
If you feel the temptation to clarify an issue the prospect hasn't expressed any misgivings about, zip it. Just say no, thank your lucky stars the question never came up, and close that sale.