I recently read a great post by Robert Terson at Selling Fearlessly titled “Do You Dominate The Conversation”. Robert tells a personal story regarding two recent conversations he had with a couple of sales training professionals (one by phone and one face to face), in which he was disengaged from the conversation for three reasons; they both dominated the conversation, bragged incessantly and were constantly interrupting. We all know someone who falls in one of these categories, and a few of you may be unfortunate enough to know someone who falls in all three. I wanted to add in a fourth point that will leave your conversation one sided; the need to compete.
One of the worst things you can do when engaged in a conversation is to try and one up your counterpart. They just finished telling you a great personal or professional story involving some amazing/humorous plot, conflict, or resolution. Instead of staying engaged and discussing the story, you’ve decided that you have a similar story yourself in which you did an even more amazing job compared to what you just heard. By trying to compete, all you did was lose their interest and turned them off to continuing future conversations. Not everything is a competition and you shouldn’t feel the need to validate or defend your belonging by trying to compete with the stories you hear. Now, I’m sure there is a psychological term for this type of behavior, but I am not a psychologist, I am in sales and marketing.
So how does this relate to sales and marketing? In his post, Robert uses a line that many of us have heard and Robert credits his father for passing down this wisdom to him.
A true sales professional understands what my late father liked to point out—there’s a good reason we have two ears and only one mouth; he wants to get the other guy talking, so he can ascertain the information necessary to serve the prospect/customer.
One of the biggest mistakes sales professionals of all experience levels make is talking too much and not listening. While talking to your prospect, if you are dominating the conversation and not letting them speak, how do you know what their pain points or needs are? If you are bragging incessantly about your product/solution, your prospect will immediately tune you out and you will lose credibility and any chance at achieving a next step. Should you be interrupting your prospect, well then you are just plain rude. When your prospect tells you about the success he is having, or failure, your job is to relate to those issues, not try and compete with them or make your prospect feel like their issues are nothing compared to what others have gone through.
By learning to use your two ears instead of just your one mouth you will realize how much valuable information you can uncover. In speaking with your prospect, you realize he has a majority of the areas you wanted to speak on covered. By letting them talk instead of dominating the conversation yourself, you leave the opportunity for your prospect to open doors to what they really need solved or what business pains they are experiencing. Let there be an awkward pause in the conversation and use all of your will power to not fill it with idle chit chat. Chances are your prospect is thinking about either; a response to your question, determining if you product is a fit, or discovering that they have more business pains then they originally perceived.
Listening is one of the most powerful tools in a sales rep’s arsenal, it’s a shame that so few know how to use it. If you get the chance, go out to lunch with Robert and practice your listening skills so you don’t dominate the conversation and end up the topic of his next post!