Remember reading the Peanuts cartoons or watching the TV specials? When the teacher spoke all you heard was, “Wah, wah, wah, . . . “ That’s what a lot of sales people sound like when they network or sell.
In both situations they are talking way too much about their product or service. They think they are supposed to share every detail of what they offer. Unfortunately, the only thing people hear is, “wah, wah, wah.” You see — they stopped listening about 15 seconds in.
Let’s separate the situations and talk about a better sales process.
This is the place where a salesperson should be clear and concise when conveying the value they bring to their clients. Tell me how you help them solve or avoid a problem — in short order. No one wants to hear all of the features. It isn’t your opportunity to monopolize the conversation. As a matter of fact, talking less and listening more is best. The point of networking is to learn about others; to start the relationship building process.
This is the place where listening is king. The value of a sales appointment isn’t in you telling the prospect all about your stuff. It is for you to ask a lot of questions, really listen to the answers, and then respond briefly to what you hear.
I know prospects will start a meeting by saying, ‘so, tell me about your (product/service).’ That isn’t the green light! Instead, tell them you’d like to ask a few questions first so you can be sure to tell them what is relevant to their needs. That’s all they care about. When you tell them everything else, you are Charlie Brown’s teacher.
It all comes back to the goal. What are you hoping to achieve? When you are networking are you hoping to sell something or build relationships? My belief about networking is that it is building relationships with people who may or may not need what you have to sell. So, it isn’t about selling something. It’s about getting to know people to find those who are good colleagues and/or clients. When your networking goal is to build relationships, be quiet! You’ll go farther by listening than talking.
What is your goal for the sales appointment? Most likely it’s to get the opportunity to gain a sale. I submit it is also the chance to learn about the prospect to determine if they would be a good client. You can’t know if they meet your expectations unless you learn about them. So, when your sales appointment goal is to get the sale from the best clients, be quiet.
“Wah, wah, wah” leads nowhere.
Charlie Brown Photo via Shutterstock
In my experience, the best way to start a discussion is to add value. Offer helpful advice or tips that the potential customer can use to improve their business. Give first and then when you get to the ask it will be well received.
I am so with you! It’s the best way to be heard.
Thanks for this helpful reminder Diane! The Art of Listening is something many forget when trying to impress a potential client. The goal is to successfully engage and educate, not overpower and disengage.
Diane, this was a very good article. Often times when I go to networking events people want to tell me enough info about what they do to sale me on the spot. When I am out and about networking i like to mingle with as many people as possible to see if second meeting with them would beneficial for both of us.
This is where branding comes in. It is important to not only send out messages but send the right one. It is important to sit down and really dissect all your marketing messages so that you can start telling your customers what they want to hear.
Listening is becoming increasingly important as prospects don’t want to just be pitched at. I find that taking the time to get to know the client first makes it easier for you to add value and ultimately make the sale.
It also makes for a better relationship, which is essential if you want to build lifetime value. What do you think is the best way to get salespeople to slow down and have more of a conversation? Pitching right away seems to be a sales impulse that is hard to break!