Do you watch the television show Shark Tank closely?
Of course you do!
You’ve seen episodes when the nervous (or arrogant) entrepreneur stands in front of the firing squad, pitching the heck out of their product or service.
And yes, they need to pitch in order to educate the potential investor and drum up excitement.
The problem arises when the nervous (or arrogant) entrepreneur keeps talking, and talking, and TALKING.
This is usually the moment when one of the investors (Mark Cuban in many cases) warns the hapless entrepreneur that they’re about to talk themselves right out of an investment.
I hate when this happens! And it’s even worse when the clueless entrepreneur continues to keep talking and pitching!
“Why won’t they shut their trap?!?” I often find myself yelling at the screen.
And that leads me to today’s blog post.
As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re a small business owner, then marketing and sales are a part of your job. There’s no getting around it, no matter how much of a creative genius you may be.
There’s simply no way you can skip ahead to the proposal process without enduring the marketing and sales process. So it benefits you to learn how to develop and sharpen your sales skills.
And guess what? Part of that development comes down to this:
You need to know how and when to shut your trap!
I know, my phrasing is a bit strong, but if you can get past the wording and pay attention to my message, then you’ll quickly see that I’ve used such strong wording because I want to help you avoid shooting yourself in the foot.
What’s the use of putting all of that time and energy into attracting a sales lead if you’re going to blow it after you land them?
Before we delve into how to close your vocal valve, let’s take a look at some common reasons why you need to clamp your lips tightly during certain moments of the sales process:
Your Prospect Might Have Something To Say
Using Shark Tank as an example (again), there are moments when the investors query the entrepreneur with questions that allows them to make an investment decision.
The best entrepreneurs come prepared with razor-sharp answers, but best of all, they answer the query and go mute!
The worst entrepreneurs keep pitching, pitching, and selling more. Sometimes, they’re so determined to get the pitch out of their mouths, they don’t allow the investors to ask questions at all!
This happens in real sales scenarios all the time, and maybe this has happened to you.
This leads to the next point…
Your Prospect Has The Right To Ask Questions
There are usually two camps of sales people who keep talking when they should be quiet:
- Those who are scared of being questioned by their prospects
- Those who have no respect for their prospects and hate being questioned
Salespeople in the first camp try to over-compensate for feeling ill-prepared to answer questions by pitching too eagerly (and wordy).
Kira Moore writes about this point in an article, stating:
I have seen far too many deals lost because sales people are trying so hard to finish their pitch or impart how big their brain is to a potential customer by spewing vast amounts of product knowledge.
Then, there’s the arrogant sales person who’s so enamored with their own sales pitch, they refuse to be verbally tamed, even by a prospect who’s showing buying signs by asking questions!
People Tune Out One-Sided Conversations
Here’s some signs that your sales pitch might be boring your prospect to tears:
- They check their watches (or the time on their smartphones)
- They suddenly feel the urge to check emails or social media messages
- They start to yawn, barely able to focus
- They stop making eye contact with you, hatching an escape plan
- They shift, itch, and twitch in their seats
- Their energy clearly shows they’d rather listen to anything else but you
They can’t help it! It’s human nature to block out one-side conversations. Why do you think everyone fell asleep during those lectures your professor used to lead?
Remember: Your sales pitch isn’t about your verbal (or written) prowess. It’s all about providing solutions for your prospects. Trust me, they’re always interested in how to resolve their problems!
An Experienced Sales Prospect Can See Through Your Wall Of Chatter
If you’re pitching a desirable industry prospect, then chances are great that they’ve been pitched before. Many prospects are seasoned at being pitched (and turning down pitches, too).
When you’re dealing with this type of sales prospect, it becomes crucial to learn the moments to be quiet. If you make any of the mistakes mentioned earlier:
- They’ll sense your fear
- They’ll be able to tell that you’re trying to impress them
Salesgravy explains why you might overcompensate during your sales pitch:
As a sales professional, there are times when you might feel unprepared or inadequate (for example, when you find that you aren’t as familiar with your prospect’s situation as you should be or you realize that your competitor excels in key areas that you don’t).
They also warn about appearing too desperate:
However, there is a fine line between providing excellent customer service and offering too much.
Once you have offered a huge discount, promised to personally be available 24/7/365 to hold your (hopefully) new client’s hand, and agreed to rush the order at no additional cost, you have probably given away too much.
In fact, if your prospect was sold on the value of your offerings themselves, throwing in all of those extras may just be causing him to question his original assessment.
Your prospect may now be saying to himself, ‘Why does she need this order so badly? If her offerings are as great as I thought they were, why is she practically giving them away? Maybe they aren’t so great after all!’
…If your prospect can’t see the value of your offerings without so many extra benefits, you missed a step in the sales process; randomly throwing in extra benefits at this point, without resolving these issues, is not your best long term solution.
So by now, you can see that there are definite times when keeping your mouth closed during the sales process is crucial to your success. But how do you do it?
It depends on the part of the pitch you find yourself at.
For example, Kerry Johnson of LifeHealthPro says:
…Professional salespeople are so elegant, they listen people into buying. This not only means you effectively probe for needs and wants. It also suggests you pay more attention to how the prospect reacts to what you say.
Some of those reactions are cues from your prospect they have heard enough and want you to move to the next stage of the process. Sometimes these cues indicate they want to buy.
So the first step is create a buying environment for your prospect. You should create an environment that allows for natural ebbs and flows of the conversation.
Specifically, you should allow your prospect to open up and reveal their concerns to you. This allows for the development of vulnerability and trust. People like buying from those whom they trust.
They also like buying from people who make them feel understood and heard.
Matt Cook of Salesforce Search speaks of slowing down long enough to tune in to non-verbal queues.
…Overselling can be avoided when nonverbal buying signals are heeded. A top sales person knows this and becomes an expert at detecting the hundreds of different nonverbal buying signals that a prospect might send.
He mentions the top three non-verbal queues such as:
- Frequent nodding (in agreement with you, not falling asleep)
- Handling supportive materials (that you’ve provided the prospect)
- Consistent Eye Contact (instead of eyeing the door or the floor)
It’s often more important to understand when to close a sale than it is presenting a sale.
Having said this, a huge aspect of understanding when to close a sale is understanding when you should close your mouth and let your prospect to give you the buying signals you’ll need to seal the deal.