Never Tell What You Can Ask…

In a recent edition of, author Jack Falvey wrote, “Let them talk! Selling is not telling!”

Falvey went on to make the following simple suggestion for improving our success rate when selling: “It would be a perfect world if we were all good listeners.  Some people have even taken listening courses…  How about just letting prospects and customers talk a little bit more.  You will be amazed at what they will tell you and what you will discover. Increased talking time for customers will bring increased sales for you… and the best way to get customers to talk more is to ask them more questions.”

To exemplify his perspective, Falvey shared a story about the late Fred Hermann, who Earl Nightingale called “the greatest sales trainer who ever lived.”

Hermann was a guest on the Tonight Show and was asked, as a world authority on sales, to demonstrate his skills by selling the host a coffee mug that was on the desk.

Hermann asked, “What are some of the things you could use this for?”  The host came up with eight or ten answers.  Fred then asked, “What would you pay for something like this?”  The host came up with a couple of different price points, and finally stated a figure.  Fred said, “Okay, you can have it at that price.”

Note that in the Tonight Show exchange, Hermann (the seller) never said anything about the product.  Instead he made the sale by asking good questions and listening.

A good way to develop this skill is to set a “talk/listen” ratio in advance of all sales calls. In other words, during each call or telephone conversation, what is the percentage of time you would ideally like to “talk” versus the percentage of time you’d like to listen?

The ratio can vary a bit depending on each situation and which sales process step is in play, but do your best to let the buyer talk at least half of the time. You might be surprised at how this simple habit changes your approach and, even better, at how it impacts your customers and prospects!

Another good idea was concisely summarized by Fred Hermann when he said, “Never tell them anything you can ask them.”