Over-communicating is epidemic, running rampant in sales professionals. I don’t mean over-sharing or over-listening. I mean over-talking, as in saying more than needs to be said. That’s talking over, as in not letting buyers get a word in edgewise.
Many people who gravitate toward sales have the “gift of gab.” Many also have a certain charm or humor that makes them engaging speakers. Of course, many have a high energy level and are highly expressive. So they talk a lot. We may even consider people like this to be “natural born” sellers. In our own profession, we celebrate this behavior, frequently hiring candidates who seem at ease in any conversation and can carry more than their fair share of the exchange.
Unfortunately, over-talking doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to buyers. We are all busy, rushed, stressed and distracted. We need sellers who have a clear, compelling message. We won’t hear that message if it is diluted by the following:
- Chit chat about mundane matters like the weather.
- Repetitive blather that feels generic and irrelevant.
- Long dissertations about you, your company or your product.
- Presumptions or assumptions about what I need or want.
- Interruptions or non-stop talking that doesn’t give me a chance to think or speak.
- Responses that make it seem like you weren’t even listening to what I said.
- Tangents which are unrelated to my needs.
- An apparent self-orientation that makes it difficult to trust the seller.
To win a sale, you have to create a connection with a buyer. Few connections are formed by one-sided dialogue. Pace yourself. Breathe. Slow down. Give me a chance to process what you’ve already said. Wait for me to catch up, and don’t succumb to your desire to fill the quiet space. It’s that quiet space where I am considering my options and warming up to you and the idea(s) you’ve introduced. If you keep talking, I won’t be able to process what you’re saying. I will feel uncomfortable and rushed, pushed even to act first and think later. That makes me suspicious about your motives. With that feeling, we may never connect.
To work on slowing down and becoming more comfortable with silence, practice in your personal life. Force yourself to express a single, simple idea and then shut your mouth. You do not need to explain it again using different words. You do not need to add on some more information. You do not need to punctuate yourself with superlatives and desperate-sounding add-ons. All you need to do is let the words you’ve already spoken take hold.
If you do not feel that the words tumbling out of your mouth are effectively conveying the message you intend, work ahead of time to selectively craft your message. You don’t need a speech or a script. You just need to organize your thoughts. Think, ahead of the sales call, in bullet points. List just 2-3 key points that are the most important. When you meet with me, relax and slowly, simply give me those bullet points. Then stop. Work on developing a discipline of saying more with fewer words.
For those of you who can’t seem to control the interrupting, here’s a tip. Bite your tongue. I mean it. Inside your mouth, when someone else is speaking, stick your tongue between your teeth. You’ll have to undo that position before you are able, physically, to speak. That time may be all you need to regroup and remind yourself that interrupting is never appreciated. Work on your active listening skills, too, taking a bit more time to focus your attention in a way that others know you are tuned in to them. That way, when it is your turn again, you’ll get the same in return – people gladly listen to those who have listened to them.
A few bonus benefits come through that active listening. You will hear about my needs and they will give you much more to work with than your assumptions. We’ll have a conversation instead of a sales pitch, and that will set you apart from all those other sellers in a very favorable way. You’ll pick up on clues about my preferences and you’ll notice when I drop a little buying signal. I will feel respected by and connected to you. Ultimately, this all adds up to a sale. And that’s something that all that chatter and endless talking “at” me will never achieve.
This blog post was originally published on March 27, 2013 and has now been selected for the CONNECT! Community’s series on trust. As a seller, it’s absolutely essential for you demonstrate your trustworthiness to buyers. Learn more trust with this free download of chapter 1 from DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected or with CONNECT2Sell Training programs. Be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Sell Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.