In a recent MakingTheNumbers.com post, author Jack Falvey offered the following advice to sales professionals, “The less you say, the more it appears you are listening.”
Falvey went on to explain that despite having the “gift of gab” and a desire to work with people and tell them what we know, it is far better for an astute seller to be concerned about others.
“We have to listen to others, not to ourselves,” Falvey said. “Or we will begin to starve! What to do? Take a deep breath. Lots of them! We have to learn to let the other people talk. This is a tough business we are in…. let them talk. They may tell you something!”
This perspective aligns nicely with ours, and with data shared in a recent Paul Charles & Associates blog post indicating that, according to a survey of buyers, most sales people don’t really understand buyers’ needs.
If you’re thinking about what you might like to do differently to improve your probing and listening skills, Falvey offered the following suggestions:
- Take notes… it keeps you from talking all the time. Even if you know everything, ask “Is there anything else I should know?”
- Try to slow down. Put pauses in your presentation. Try to sell without a presentation. Some of the best in the business sell only with directional questions.
- Set a Talk / Listen ratio as part of all pre-call plans, and do your best to keep the “talk” portion below 50%
- Establish a punch list before sales calls that includes questions designed to identify or confirm specific details. Then make sure you ask about them and then listen for the information.
- Bite your tongue. Keep quiet. Maintain eye contact, and good things might happen. Let them buy. You may not have to sell. “Tell me more!”