Spend a week in the field with sales reps and you’ll observe too many sales calls where the sales rep is just talking too much. Why? We’ve heard lots of reasons posited like: “this product is great – it will sell itself if I just talk about …” or “my customers tell me they want to know everything about our new …” or ” if I am talking I know the customer will forget about hat objection.” And of course, there’s the old catchall, “nature abhors a vacuum.” And I would guess any sales manager could add a couple of their personal favors to the “why” list.
Regardless of the “why”, the end result is clear. First, by talking the sales rep isn’t listening. As Peter Bregman shared, listening is a much more productive way to achieve your objective than speaking. He shares his experiences while nursing a sore throat and found he was able to help others and build relationships as effectively as he did when speaking – and with much less collateral damage.
Bregman recommends that we think ahead – long term – when we’re about to say something. We support that recommendation. While it may be difficult for sales reps to excel at this in real time, pre-call planning and rehearsing parts of an upcoming sales call will help address the problem.
And what about listening? As we’ve noted in a prior blog, sales people need to follow the “100 Percent Rule” – sales people must take 100% of the responsibility for making sure the customer understands them. And take 100% of the responsibility for understanding what the customer says. How? Click here for 7 active listening best practices.
Counter-productive speaking may make us feel better in the short-term – but it doesn’t advance the sale. Pre-call planning, rehearsing critical portions of sales calls, actively listening to the customer and positioning the conversation to the customer’s interests all help get the job done.