Have you ever encountered a salesperson who didn’t know when to stop talking? It happened to me again recently. I wanted to buy a new small laptop. You know, one of those super lightweight models. I stopped by a kiosk in a mall and engaged a young salesman in conversation. I began by saying “I’m interested in lightweight laptop with a 15 inch screen”. That was the last thing I said for what seemed to be 10 minutes. Wow!
There are numerous studies out that say a salesperson should talk 20-25% of the time they are in front of a prospect. The prospect should therefore be talking 75-80% of the time. Look at it this way if your prospect is talking and you are listening (a critical component) there is a relatively good chance you will learn something. You may learn about their budget, your competitors, what their real problem is, and all kinds of other interesting and useful information.
This goes to the point of finding out what your prospect wants to buy instead of what you want to sell.
There has been much written lately about who is “controlling” the sales conversation. Is it your prospect or the salesperson? I’m a little bit uncomfortable with that terminology. It’s too close to manipulation. However, I strongly believe that salespeople need a plan when they walk into a prospect’s office. That plan cannot be to just show up and start talking. Have a strong answer to the question “Why am I making this sales call? What is my objective for this call? How will I judge the success of this call?
With a plan in mind you will ask questions and then listen. You can, in fact, direct the conversation by the questions you ask. Remember to ask follow on questions like “that’s interesting, why do you think that”? Then shut up and listen.
Finally, keep in mind you should always be driving toward a decision. It doesn’t have to be a buying decision. It may be just to continue the conversation another day with more people in the room. Recent research suggests 80% of sales are lost to no decision (does that sound familiar). Keep this in mind to avoid a bloated sales pipeline. YES is a great answer, I can live with NO, but MAYBE kills me.
Sales quote: “People need to be reminded more than instructed.”