Verbal communication skills are a critical success factor in any sales situation. Three common communication mistakes could cost you sales and profit.
The Old 80/20 Rule
When it comes to sales communications, the 80/20 Rule can be stated simply as: “Talk less and listen more”.
Most salespeople fall into the trap of talking too much as they attempt to explain their products, services, and benefits to the customer. If you are talking more than 20 percent of the time:
- You are in a monologue that tells your customer you are more interested in yourself, your company, and your product than you are them.
- You miss opportunities to create a stronger connection with your prospect or customer by letting them talk about themselves and their business.
- You miss the opportunity to gather more information about current needs as well as broader opportunities and long-term requirements.
People love talking about themselves and their situations; a luxury you do not have when you are on the selling side of the table.
When you become intentional about the use of powerful questions and statements during the sales process you can avoid talking too much.
Powerful questions are some of the most effective tools in sales. They allow you to quickly gather information, open up opportunities, and prompt your customer to ask for additional information.
While most salespeople believe they ask enough questions, the issue is not the quantity of the questions, it is the quality.
Powerful questions have three common characteristics:
- Short – 15 words or less
- “You” Focused – making the question personal and direct to the customer
- Specific and Time Bound – general questions lead to general answers
It is important to develop a library of powerful questions that you will use in various situations. You should also develop a clear strategy that will lead to the results you are seeking.
The Detail Avalanche
In-depth product knowledge is a hallmark of a good salesperson. However, this detail is often more important to you than to your customer.
Your customer cares about their business situation or problem, and the benefits they will achieve when that situation is resolved. Your job is to show how you can help, focusing on the business benefits. But are you burying your prospective clients under a Detail Avalanche, hiding the core business benefit?
By taking a strategic approach to when you share various levels of information, you will become more effective in educating your customer and keeping them focused on their business objectives.
Effective communication is always intentional and strategic. Refine your skills and enjoy improved results.
Originally Published in Advantage Business Magazine
3 Communication Mistakes Will Cost Sales Profits