The most common stereotype about salespeople is that they keep talking endlessly. Once they start pitching to their prospect, it is a word-vomit and they can’t stop talking.
It is a stereotype for a reason. 75% of the salespeople steer the conversation and talk more than their client during a sales call. The major faux pas the person makes here is that they try and sell the product to the client rather than have them buy it.
Shutting up always sells more than talking a lot. Basic human psychology – Everybody likes to be heard. The probability of a person zoning out during somebody else’s talk is way lesser than him snoozing during his own talk. The curiosity of salespeople, if channelled correctly, can be a lifesaver. ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ is actually redundant in sales.
There are enough blog posts about how a salesperson should talk less and listen more. But how? Turns out, pauses and prods are art forms. Experienced sales reps use pauses as strategic weapons. Say, for example, after a prospect has said what she thinks is a lot about why she hates her current product, you don’t move on to the next topic. You simply hold and say nothing. That pause is awkward for her and for you. And it has to end. Whoever ends has to say something important and if it’s the prospect who blinks first, it’s good for you!. Dealing with this kind of a strategic pause is like petting a rabid rottweiler. You don’t go all in with extended arms shouting “who’s a good boy?”. Chances of you getting bitten in the rear is higher than ever. So, you sit there and wait for the pup to come to you. You force the awkwardness upon the conversation.
If you can’t bring yourself up to keeping mum, bring out the ‘prod’. Where the pause doesn’t work, the prod does. I’ve seen sales reps in PipeCandy often say “…Go ahead…I’m listening” even after the prospect completes what I feel is a valid closure for a statement. And often, they oblige and go one, sometimes saying way more than what they had said just before.
Listening to a prospect is an important skill. But that is not enough. What’s important is to extract everything that there is to be said and then listening to what’s being extracted out. Getting the prospect to speak is a higher-order skill than passive listening. The pause and the verbal equivalent of a prod are powerful approaches to making the prospect speak.