The salesperson had said all that was necessary, but because he was nervous, he continued to keep talking. He was trying to create rapport at the beginning of the sales call by telling the client jokes (to be clear, there is a difference between telling a joke and being funny they are often negatively correlated). The prospect felt no rapport, nor did they enjoy the amateur comedy act, something that requires the solid five minutes of great material the salesperson was missing. The salesperson continued to talk too long, but it only got worse.

Later, after asking a question, the salesperson listened to the answer and responded. But then he kept talking, answering a question he'd already answered, adding to what he'd already said providing nothing new or useful. This pattern continued through the entire conversation, with the salesperson talking too much, and the client trying to figure out how to get through the awkward conversation.

Largely, the salesperson was nervous and struggling to feel comfortable. The discomfort he felt caused him to try too hard to gain rapport and to worry about giving the client the right response and the right answer to the contact's questions.

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Talking too Much in Sales

I must confess that I can speak for just over three and a half hours on a single breath. My competency here should find me free diving in the Caribbean.

When I was young, I talked too much because I wanted to give my prospects the information, I believed they need to understand why they should buy from me, something that took longer than it should. I listened, but only so I could respond, not to understand. At twenty-one, I was guilty of all the sins and crimes a young salesperson might commit.

Over time, after going on calls with a much better salesperson, I modeled their approach, saying only what was necessary to explain something or to make a certain point, something like " the minimum viable response." When I was done speaking, I stopped talking, recognizing that more words were not better than better words, even though it took me four years to find some of those words.

How to Stop Talking and Create a Preference

What I write here may provide you with an insight that will immediately improve your sales approach, so your prospective client prefers to buy from you. You only need to recognize that your client wants to be heard. While I am impartial to both opening a sales call and providing an executive briefing that provides the context for the conversation early, with those outcomes completed, it's questions and as much room as possible for the client to speak.

There is a common mistake that people make that, when corrected, improves their results. To reverse this mistake, you have to recognize a fundamental truth about creating a preference to buy from you. You project that you care about what your client wants and needs when listening and taking notes, proof that what they say is important to you. While it's necessary to talk, the more room you make for your client, the better the experience for the client.

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Your Client is the Subject of the Conversation

The first way to be more comfortable in a conversation and reduce your need to talk is to recognize that, as much as we believe we our company and our products and services are the subject of the conversation, the real subject is the contact, their company, and the improvement they need. When I recognized this was true, I stopped carrying the traditional slide deck and gave up the "solution selling" approach that begins with a gambit to create credibility, switching to an executive briefing that provide both relevance and credibility.

Any contact that has allowed you to occupy a space on their calendar has some result they believe you can help them improve. When you recognize that your client is the subject, you can give up trying to convince the client you are the right choice by talking about your company and your solutions, being the person who best understands the client's challenges, what might make their challenge unique, and gaining an understanding of how best to help them improve their outcomes. Instead of performing for your client, you allow them to occupy the spotlight. When your client is performing, there is no reason for you to perform or to steal the spotlight.

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On Listening to Your Client

You learn somethings later than you should. More than a decade ago, I recognized that in most conversations, regardless of who was sitting across from me, that I was subjected to being interrupted, often in the middle of a sentence (pay attention to how often you are interrupted and the number of times you interrupt someone else). I recognized that a person who couldn't stop themselves from interrupting me had the greater need to talk. I stopped talking and allow the other person to talk until they ran out words (some proving to have more words than one might expect).

Having practiced this for more than a decade, I have discovered two things to be true. First, by patiently allowing another person to speak, you are giving them the gift of being seen, heard, and acknowledged, these things being a gift, as we communicate more in ways that prevent truly being heard. Second, when you believe the person is done speaking, you are almost certain to be wrong. Much of the time, they are finding their way to their next point. Waiting for eight beats allows them the time to find the words, and it prevents you from interrupting them.

The beginning and ending of gaining control over any nervousness is to give up trying to be liked for what you say and try to score points by asking good questions that require your clients to discover something about themselves. When you learn to listen, you'll hear what is being said, and what isn't being said.

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Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
November 23, 2021
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