Quite simply, the more you talk with a prospect or client, the less likely they are to go with you.

It sounds weird because sales is about conversations, talking to people.

Yet, most salespeople really don’t know what to say, so they start saying way too much.

So, if you want more sales then you need to shut up.

Actually, you need to shut up and listen.

If at anytime during your lead generation, lead follow up or sales presentations you find yourself doing most of the talking, you’re most likely talking yourself out of that sale.

If you’re pontificating about how great you or company is, or throwing out stats left and right…you’re on the wrong track.  If you’re justifying or defending…you’re on the wrong track.  Actually, if you find yourself answering a bunch of questions, you’re on the wrong track.

And that last one is a tough one.  People will ask you questions, and you will want to answer them.  It’s kind of ego based, because you want to prove to the prospect that you know your stuff.  The problem with that is that the prospect is controlling the conversation, and therefore being a better salesperson than you.

The simple fact is that you need to be asking good questions and then shutting up while listening to the answers.  Repeat and/or approve of what they said, so they know you heard them, and ask another question.  Keep asking questions until you hear an opening to set an appointment, or otherwise close…and do that with a question, too!

They key is to shut up and listen to the answer.  Don’t have your response on the tip of your tongue halfway through their sentence, that means you’re not really listening to them, and you want to show them how smart you are.  Don’t feel the need to “top” their answer with something you feel is related, they don’t care.

Yesterday on my way to the Phillies World Series parade in Philadelphia, I was listening to the radio and heard the studio host ask the live broadcast guy where he currently was doing his reporting from.  Every time the on-the-street guy mentioned a landmark, direction or other way to let the audience know where he was, the studio host kept chiming in with, “Yep, I know where that is,” or “I know where you are,” etc.  He must have done it five or six times inside of just two sentences from the street reporter.

I was thinking to myself, “Thanks for telling us how smart you are.  Now if you would just shut your pie hole for two seconds, the listening public could have actually ascertained as to where this guy was broadcasting from.”

Same thing in sales: a prospect or client says something and we’re ready to jump into the conversation and show them how we know everything.

Most of us really don’t know that much.  We think we know.  We have opinions.  We like to think we’re smart.  When you get down to it, we really don’t know what’s going on with someone else unless we pay attention to what they say, and not what we want to say.  We’re really not that smart.

So let’s keep our mouths shut, lest our prospects find that out all too soon.

Scott Friedman