It’s been said that communication is an art. It follows, then, that the same is true for sales. In fact, selling is an art form that can take an entire career to master.
Many think the key to selling more is talking more, but nothing could be further from the truth. The common assumption that the more you talk and pitch your product, the more convinced your prospect will be to buy it is a myth.
If you really want to sell more, talk less. By utilizing proper listening and questioning strategies, a salesperson will be able to better qualify a prospect and move them through the sales process faster.
A recent survey by Rain Group found that 68% of buyers are highly influenced by sellers who listen well, but buyers report that only 26% of sellers are effective listeners. The only thing that ranked higher in importance for buyers’ purchase decisions was “leading a thorough discovery of my concerns, wants, and needs,” which is dependent on a salesperson’s ability to listen and ask strategic questions instead of talking at the prospect.
But why do so many sales professionals fall into the trap of talking too much during a sales pitch? Here are some of the primary reasons:
- They don’t have a strategic sales process to follow.
- They’re following the buyer’s process because they don’t have one of their own.
- They don’t have an effective questioning strategy.
- They have no clear plan established for the call or meeting. Too much talking is often a sign of no call prep.
- They’re too committed to the plan or pitch that they previously put together, which does not allow for any free-flowing conversation.
- They talk too much out of nervousness, perhaps due to discomfort speaking with senior-level buyers, discomfort starting conversations or insufficient knowledge of the services they are selling and the value they provide.
- They put themselves, their goals, and their personal communication preferences ahead of the prospects’.
- They aren’t comfortable with silence.
- They get tripped up by any questions that are not within their practiced pitch.
Whatever the underlying reasons are, it’s essential to unpack the “why” behind a habit of talking too much during sales conversations and address it. All of the obstacles listed above can be overcome through preparation, practice, process and coaching.
What’s the real problem with trying to talk your way into a sale? When we talk too much, we miss the opportunity to build rapport with our prospects. A famous Sandler Training quote says, “People love to buy; they hate to be sold.” When you do all the talking during a conversation, you’re pushing too hard for the sale, and it’s easy for the buyer to tune you out. Essentially, you’re talking your way out of the sale.
Additionally, if you do all the talking, you’ll never uncover the prospect’s true pain points. Listening more will enable you to read between the lines and get a deeper understanding of what their true pain points actually are, and this will guide you on to your next steps.
During a sales call or meeting, you’re giving your prospect a sneak peek at what it would be like to work with you. Would you really want to work with somebody who doesn’t let you get a word in? It’s important to make the relationship collaborative. There shouldn’t be one person dominating the conversation.
A 2016 Gong.io study of 25,537 B2B sales conversations found that the average B2B salesperson speaks 65-75% of the time on a call. By honing in on top-performing calls, they found that the ideal talk-to-listen ratio is 43% talking to 57% listening. Other sales organizations have found the ideal talk-listen balance is closer to 30-70 or even 20-80.
Here are a few tips to help you put ‘talk less, sell more’ into practice:
- Ask the prospect permission to ask questions.
- Have a list of pain-revealing questions that will get your prospect speaking.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Utilize these two great follow-up responses to answers: “tell me more” and “why.”
- Resist the urge to answer the question for them.
- Practice restraint! If you fire off question after question, the prospect will feel bombarded and might shut down.
By closing your mouth and opening your ears, a prospect will be much more receptive to what you do have to say. Talking too much accomplishes the exact opposite of what you actually want during a sales pitch. If you want to sell more, enable your prospects to speak their minds. Only then will you be able to effectively address pain points, build collaborative relationships, and truly sell.
This blog was updated for accuracy and relevance on August 12, 2021.
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