“Our job isn’t to tell customers everything all at once. It’s to make them curious to learn more.” – Bernadette Jiwa
It isn’t easy to admit we talk too much.
Sometimes we are unaware this is our challenge. Perhaps we’ve been taught, or assumed, that providing prospects and customers with an abundance of information is the ideal way to capture their interest.
Or maybe we do realize we should be listening more and talking less but don’t know how to change our behaviour.
My coaching work with individuals and sales teams consistently reveals that listening more and talking less quickly improves their conversations … and their sales.
How can you identify that you talk too much? And if you do, how can you change this behaviour?
To identify that talking too much is your challenge:
a) Make use of sales analytics software, such as Gong or Refract. By recording your calls, or the calls of your team, you can learn exactly what’s happening. You’ll see how much time is spent on small talk, what percentage of the call the salesperson is speaking vs the prospect/customer … and an abundance of other valuable data. Then you can decide on your next step towards improvement.
b) If investing in software isn’t high on your priority list, make the commitment to stay very present during your conversations with prospects and clients. What do you hear? Your voice or theirs? Make use of a timer. Quickly turn it on when you begin speaking, pausing it when you stop. Use a second timer to measure the prospect’s/client’s portion of the conversation. If you are taking up the majority of the conversation – and you want to improve your sales – change is essential.
To change your behaviour:
a) Practice talking less. Become aware of those moments in your calls when you are presenting instead of conversing. Interrupt yourself by saying, “I’m so sorry. I get so excited about my work I tend to start rambling. Let me ask you … .” Or “Can you tell I’m passionate about our work? Sorry for talking so much. I’ll stop now because I really want to hear about your experience.”
b) Create a map for your calls and keep it in sight throughout your conversations. Indicate sections of each call, i.e. introduction, open-ended question, prospect response, etc. Then highlight exactly where you want to be quiet. You might call this “Time to Listen!”
Track your results:
There are a wide variety of opinions about what percentage of a conversation belongs to you versus your prospect/client. You should definitely be speaking less than 50% of the time. And many sales gurus recommend the 80/20 rule, i.e. allow the prospect/client to speak 80% of the time. If you track your results, you will find the ideal balance between talking, listening and increasing your sales.
Know that, like all skills, learning how to talk less will take practice. Know that it’s worth both the time and effort. Listening more and talking less accelerates the creation of trust. It builds relationships. It allows prospects and clients to tell you, in their own words, exactly how you can be of service. And with this information … you will create more revenue.