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Shut Up and Make More Sales!

Who said that a successful salesperson had to be a "fast talker"?

Anyway, this is the common misconception when it comes to telephone and direct face-to-face selling. But the opposite is more likely. It's the salespeople who talk less and listen to the prospect more that make the most sales.

Listening is a very important part of a salesperson's people skills. `Listen twice as much as you talk' will be a good rule of thumb here. For those who think that they have to "pitch" the customer, this will always be a difficult pill to swallow. Even though you think that you're sure of the prospect's needs, you have to listen because different individuals have totally different reasons why they purchase the same product or service. If you cannot ascertain this reason, it's unlikely that you will close the sale.

The more apt you are to listen to your clients, the more likely they'll tell you what they are looking for! Here are some quick tips to improve your listening skills:

1. Well ... just stop talking and listen.

This is the toughest part. As the salesperson you think that you have all the information on the product and so you need to educate the potential customer. But if you just listen, you would hear the customer say, "These are my needs that I want you to satisfy."

2. Learn to view things from the prospect's position.

It is easy to sympathize, but to place yourself in the prospect's position-to empathize-is a bit more challenging. Empathizing says that you understand the problems and challenges of your client and you are capable of viewing these problems from her position. Don't be afraid to affirm by saying, "I understand what you're saying". And mean it!

3. Restate what the client tells you to be sure that you understand what they are communicating.

This simple strategy makes the other person feel `heard'. This is a common technique used by counselors and other such professionals, but works just as well in any human relationship. So if the prospect says, "The flyers I bought last year weren't cut to proper size". You can reply by saying, "So you are concerned about the flyers being the exact size you specify".

Here you've simply repeated the same statement but in your own words and the customer nods in agreement. And who doesn't love an affirmative nod?

4. Try not to interrupt the prospects while they are talking- another hard one.

Most people, instead of listening during a conversation, are eagerly processing what they are going to say next. So instead of actively listening they are formulating what they will say next.

When you interrupt your client in mid-sentence, you are actually saying that what he has to say is not as important as what you have to say. The irony here is that your client will then be anticipating you finishing your pitch, in order to complete their thought. In other words, you're not being heard at all. Ouch!

5. Ask a lot of questions for clarification but not to be confrontational.

Asking a lot of questions will draw out from the customer the benefits that she is hoping to gain from your service or product. Just be careful that your questions don't place the client in an awkward position or lead into an argument. Even when you recognize inconsistencies in the prospects reasoning, you don't want to embarrass her by making this flaw blatantly clear. A better approach will be to ask `leading questions' that will bring her back to `the path of reason'.

6. Avoid jumping to unnecessary conclusions and learn to `listen between the lines'.
If you stereotype your prospect, you may find yourself jumping to conclusions that may circumvent your sales. Simply because the client is a single man in his 20's, doesn't mean that he is looking for a studio apartment. Here again, you have to be patient and skillful enough to allow the customer to tell you what he needs, not assume these needs because you are the `expert'.

Many times you also have to listen to what is being said as much as to what is left unsaid. You have to `listen between the lines' and pick up on other signals such as body language and voice inflections.

7. Smile! You'll be surprised to see what this does for your tone of voice.

Even if you're speaking to a prospect on the phone you should smile. Your smile will find itself expressed in your voice. Your voice communicates more than words; it also expresses mood. I'm sure that just after answering the phone you've been asked questions such as: "Are you in a hurry?" "Is this a bad time?" Or hear statements such as: "You sound really excited!" "Well, you're really in a good mood today!"

You can trick your voice into a good mood by smiling whether you feel like it or not.

And if you use these seven tips you will be in a good mood, because your sales will show it.

(c)2004 Ray L. Edwards
Ray Edwards is a talented copywriter that gets you results. He provides website critiques, editing, rewriting and ghostwriting services for online businesses. You may read more of his articles and see samples of his work at

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