talk-less-listen-more

Do you ever panic when a prospect is in sight? Out come the adjectives, offers, and features, and they just sound like word salad to your potential customer.

Every fast-track pitch suffers when you rush to get it over with. Stop. Retrace your steps. If you’re in the business of closing deals and chasing leads, you could be guilty of talking too fast.

But why is this such a bad thing? Most people attribute confidence, knowledge, and optimism to fast speakers, right? 

The truth is, that more often than not, fast speakers confuse people. They decorate their ideas with extra fluff that drowns out the actual message. No one’s going to buy something they don’t understand. Your prospect doesn’t want to be hit by an information wall. Most of them have already done their homework. They just need your help with making a decision.

As the cliché goes, silence is golden. In this case, the one who should be doing the talking is your lead.

This is your window of opportunity to observe and respond; to pick up as many hints as your prospect is projecting. Your silence will send your prospect a message of trust.

Allow your prospect to ramble enough for you to form relevant leading questions or statements, understand their needs, and pitch in with customized solutions.

Practice the following sales habits, so that you can make a better case during your future meetings: 

 Look, listen, learn 

The most likable people are the kind that make you feel good. They seem to make any random topic interesting—an enviable skill set that not everyone is born with. They simply observe if you’ve been smiling, frowning, or ignoring various topics, and act accordingly. When your prospect is shuffling through their things and slams a note pad on their desk, you might want to rethink opening that slideshow right away. Starting your conversation with a basic status check helps you gauge what frame of mind your prospect is in.

At the same time, you don’t want to seem like you’re their therapist waiting to intervene with a session. Steer clear of asking what annoyed them earlier, or worse, advising them! Figuring out just the right amount of chit-chat and business talk is an ongoing balancing act that you can master with time and experience. The easiest lesson you can learn from your prospects is how they respond to your questions with their actions and words. Make sure you ask the right ones!

Questions are the answer

It’s likely that your prospect already views you with a filter of suspicion. They think you only want their money and will tell them anything to get it. Make your prospect believe that they will get their money’s worth and you’ve already won the deal.

But, how do you win their trust? By making the effort to understand your prospect’s needs before explaining your offering. Keep it transparent, and ask them what they do. Lead them into a dialogue where you can learn about the size of their business, the type of market they fall under, and whether they can afford your offering.  

Of course, most salespeople already profile their prospects. I’m not doubting that. This exercise is as beneficial for you as it is for your prospect. Creating this conversation allows your prospects to reflect on their business pains in-depth, presenting you with an opportunity to offer some help.

You may get excited when you happen upon a perfect product placement window within this conversation. Do not jump in with more word salad—that’s a mistake. Talk to your prospect about companies that have had similar issues in the past. Once you’ve piqued their curiosity, you can explain how the other business overcame this problem with the solution you have on offer.

Allow your prospects to choose instead of force-feeding them the “yes”.

Respond, don’t react!

Prospects aren’t walls. They are humans with emotions, nerves, and impatience. Try having a conversation with them instead of a monologue. You’ll be surprised at how fast your sales script will re-edit itself in your head based on actual insights from them. Make sure you don’t get defensive if a prospect points out something missing or faulty about your product.

You have their attention, and that’s the first win. If your prospect has misunderstood the feature or functionality, respond with “I’m glad you brought this up. Actually, this is how it works…” instead of “But, that’s not how it works…”. If it is a legitimate mistake or criticism, be honest and apologize. If you are aware of a forthcoming solution, follow it up with an explanation. If not, steer the conversation in the direction of other ways your product can solve big-picture problems that are more important by comparison. 

So, what should you do during this Q&A session? You work on planting value points in the mind of your prospect. However, once you’ve built up enough momentum, speaking less won’t seal the deal. Having a winning line, and using it at the right time, will. How do you zero in on a winning line? Having gained an insight into what your prospect does and what their needs are through your conversations, you can plug your product.

Make sure not to force it. Introduce your pitch organically in your responses – “The new hires in your remote team can collaborate flexibly with the number of users you can add with our enterprise edition. / You don’t need to plan out your budget for migration. We provide the service for free.” This will help them make a favorable decision and strengthen their trust in you.

I’ll leave you with a winning line that I’d like you to keep in mind the next time you approach a prospect:

 If you talk to help instead of to close, the boardroom won’t feel like a courtroom.

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