You may have heard the old saying “least said soonest mended”. This was a favourite saying of my Aunt Mary, a no nonsense Scot, who was the world’s greatest scone maker, amazingly hardheaded, and eminently practical. She had a few other sayings that were much more colourful than the one I just mentioned, but as this is a PG-rated blog, maybe we can talk about those privately. I think you can adapt this old saying of my Aunt Mary’s, and make it applicable to today’s sales environment. I would slightly modify her saying to “least said soonest sold.”
I have trained hundreds of salespeople over the years and a wide variety of industries. Some are quiet, some are hyper extroverts, and some are ambiverts. Some sell thousand dollar products, others sell hundred-thousand dollar products, and some even sell services. Some have great technical knowledge, some have very little technical knowledge, and some would make you wonder if they had any technical knowledge whatsoever.
Once the sales training is complete I tend to monitor their progress to ensure all is well. While these salespeople are all unique they do tell me about sharing an interesting common experience. I refer to this as the least said sale.
Now if you practice consultative selling on a consistent basis I can virtually guarantee that you too will have this experience. Simply put, you will find yourself in a situation where you ask your prospect a group of questions and start to engage them. In no time at all you find your prospect becoming very talkative and extremely animated in terms of discussing their problems and aspirations. What’s amazing is you find yourself more or less sitting across the desk or the boardroom table with your prospects and you’re going along for the ride. You look at your watch and before you know it half an hour has passed.
You might find you haven’t been able to get in 10 words edgeways. You also might find you are getting very concerned. How are you going to sell them if they won’t let you speak? But I can assure you there is no need to panic. Inevitably what will happen is the prospect will look at you and they will say something along the lines of, “What is it I have to do to work with you?”
Now to make this a little more clear, what I’m saying is you have made no presentation whatsoever. The prospect is decided to work with you based on the fact that you are a highly skilled questioner and listener.
So if you find your salespeople, whether they be inside sales or field sales, are having a difficult time selling maybe they should think about what my Aunt Mary said, least said soonest mended. Or as I like to say, least said soonest sold. We all know the fundamental basis of effective consultative selling is questions. We also know that these questions should be asked, if not in a specific order, with great care being taken to ask each question. What you may not know, is if your salespeople tend to view themselves as being interviewers, rather than salespeople, they will be amazed to find how much more quickly they can close sales.
This is not to say your salespeople don’t need product knowledge, this is certainly not to say that they don’t need to have a selling presentation that is completely aligned with the problems consequences aspirations etc. being held by their prospects. I think the takeaway is giving information is far less relevant to a positive outcome when selling than is getting information.
Contact me if you want to have a brief conversation about improving your sales force productivity.