Doing all the talking is something we learned not to do early on in our business lives and yet, it’s a mistake I see entrepreneurs make over and over and over again! Prospects do not want to be sold, they want to be understood and the key to doing that is L-I-S-T-E-N-I-N-G!
During a recent coffee shop meeting, I witnessed an overeager salesperson at a nearby table making this exact mistake. In a 45-minute conversation, she asked 3 close-ended questions. The rest of the conversation was a long-winded, non-stop sales pitch.
It was painful to watch and it was obvious that the gentleman whom she was meeting with didn’t like being sold. He was so uncomfortable with the conversation that he kept looking over wanting to be rescued from this woman who was verbally puking on him.
It’s easy to understand how people get into this habit. Sales isn’t an easy job, especially for entrepreneurs who may not have had any sales training prior to starting a business, and most people tend to get talkative when they are nervous.
It’s okay to be nervous.
Take a breath, get yourself grounded before you start, and remember your intention for being there. If it’s simply to sell, then you are doomed to fail before you start. Approach the meeting with the intention of helping someone. This is where it’s a good idea to have a big picture vision for your purpose.
And for Pete’s sake, SHUT UP! Instead of launching into your memorized sales script, start by asking questions. When you immediately go into selling mode, your prospect starts to shut down, directing their energy toward finding an escape route instead of hearing all the selling features you are flinging at them.
The purpose of the meeting should be to better understand their needs and in doing so, build the relationship.
The best way to do this is by asking questions. A LOT of questions. What is important to them? What is working for them? What is their greatest challenge? What are they yearning for?
Listen carefully to their answers as this is how you can begin to unravel their true needs. Try to hear what they aren’t saying and look for possible connection points to your solution. Don’t give into the temptation to jump in and start selling though as that shifts the dynamic back to the one I described above.
Listening is a very powerful selling tool that allows you to show your prospects how you are invested in their outcome. Instead of overloading them with information on a solution that you don’t even know will fix their problem, you can begin to co-create the best solution (which so happens to be what you are selling).
Again, this is the point where you can fall back into selling mode. Don’t do it. Continue to redirect the conversation back to your prospect asking them to describe how your solution may work to solve other problems they may have and asking additional strategic questions.
Not only will this approach put your prospect more at ease, and build a relationship, it’s a good way for you to get over your nervousness about selling.
Do you or your sales team need help with relationship selling? Contact me to set up your free consultation.