Salespeople talk too much! I was recently hired to help a very competent and well-known business man close a multi-million dollar contract. He had an established Fortune 500 company that was very successful so when he told me his problem I was surprised. It turns out he knows his market cold, he knows what to go after and how to do it and his salespeople are great, but when he gets brought into the sales conversation (a necessary action for these deals) the deal tends to fall apart. After accompanying him on his next multi-million dollar sales meeting, it all became crystal clear.
Being in charge, it was only natural for him to “take charge” of the meeting, but he did more than this. He covered everything there is to know about his product and services. He left no stone unturned. While he was trying to be extremely helpful, this approach left no room for the potential client to provide vital information that would help him close the deal, not to mention made the client feel like they were being left out of the conversation!
Have you ever had someone spend what seemed like hours, explaining in painstaking detail, how to do something? Or had to sit through a 3 hour lecture in college? Or how about listen to your parents tell you everything you should and shouldn’t do in life while relieving their entire childhood and every failure along the way? The truth is no one is ever going to listen to you, let alone follow your advice, without having the information relate to something that is causing them problems.
Think about it, there is not two people alike in the whole world. Each person has a different background, family situation, educational path, history, difficulties and realities. Furthermore, each person has their own personality. What may be horribly troublesome to one, may not seem bothersome at all to another and may even be pleasant to someone else. Assuming you know what someone is thinking or needed to know to make a decision is not only foolish but can cost you the sale.
After working with him for several periods, he was able to get his potential client to open up and tell him what he needed to know. Once this occurred, he was able to speak about the exact features and benefits each particular client needed to know about. Furthermore, I had him show the client the downside of not signing the contract and how that could affect his bottom line! He immediately began closing major million dollar contracts and felt comfortable doing it!
Moral of the story: Win the deal with fewer spoken words than you ever thought possible! Be an amazing listener. Ask questions and then sit quietly and listen, prompting the client with more questions only when they were completely finished speaking. Make sure to ask clarification questions when necessary. Once you have gathered all of the information you need, neatly summarize the points for confirmation. Practice the art of listening by first controlling your desire to speak. And watch your closing rate spike sky high!