It’s a great paradox that the less comfortable we are the more we speak. The moment when we’re in the greatest danger of looking dumb is precisely when we open our mouths and remove all doubt. This paradox is on prominent display in the sales profession where so much hinges on our word choices, our timing and our delivery.
Diarrhea Of The Mouth
How many times have you wanted to cut out your coworker’s tongue for dominating the conversation without bringing commensurate value? How many times have you done the same? It takes few words to communicate a well-considered idea, but it takes a stream of words to explain a poorly understood one. While it’s true you can’t know everything before you speak, being knowledgeable, prepared and choosing words carefully is a deal saver. When the moment comes and the answer isn’t so clear, say so.
“Filling in the conversational white spaces,” is bad, but there are other ways to open mouth, insert foot.
“Pretty much,” “more or less,” and, “just about,” have to be the worst words a sales rep can say, right behind, “To tell you the truth,” (he last thing a customer wants to be told is that in this moment, for at least this situation, right now if at no other time…you’re telling the truth). Not giving a definitive answer or couching what you say in softening words is “sales-y” and plays into the stereotype of the sales person as self-interested and sneaky.
All Mouth And No Ears
You’re in sales? Most people need no other information to decide that you don’t listen very well. The more you talk, the less critical information you get from the person with a problem to solve. What’s more, the less likely anything you say has context in their world. Follow the 75/25 rule and listen much more than you speak.
They already suspect you don’t know much about their business, so how much can you really say? Ask great questions and you’ll defeat the sales-guy perceptions of talking to much and not knowing their world.
Words Are Precious
“Words matter,” as Chad Garrett says in Your Sales Methodology Will Likely Fail.Garrett points out that it isn’t just what I say, but the consistency and simplicity of what’s said by everyone on my sales team (and beyond into product and services). Selling is a team sport, so how can we all speak a different language and expect good outcomes?
No one ever said a big sale is easy. The primary reason often isn’t centered on the customer or the product, but in the self-defeating behavior of a typical sales person. Control what you say and you’ll be surprised how much further ahead you’ll be.