Let’s face it. People like to talk.
In fact, neuroscience tells us that most people spend 60% of their conversations talking about themselves. We’re wired to do so.
Recent research shows that when we talk about ourselves, blood flow increases to three major parts of the brain associated with reward. This uptick in neural activity makes us feel good when talking about ourselves.
So how do you get a prospect feeling the warm fuzzies when meeting with you?
Get them talking about themselves.
The most seasoned sales professionals quickly gain affinity, build trust, and identify pain points – all from asking the right questions and then shutting the heck up. Aka active listening.
The golden rule of listening says that a sales rep should spend 80% of the conversation listening and only 20% of it talking.
This ratio empowers reps to uncover real and perceived needs through strategic questioning techniques and actively listening for opportunities to get business-critical information.
Consider these tips to actively listen and get prospects talking:
Be Fully Present
A hallmark trait of great listeners is their ability to make the speaker feel that they have the time, focus, and empathy to fully hear them out. Be sure to be patient and provide “verbal nods” that indicate your engagement in the conversation.
Make Them Feel Special
When appropriate, acknowledge your prospect’s achievements in an authentic, congratulatory manner. Whether personal accomplishments (like a promotion) or organizational successes (such as new market expansion), recognizing recent wins subconsciously associates feelings of triumph with the conversation at hand.
Become an Industry Expert
Drop enough industry knowledge to convey yourself as a credible source of information. Your prospect will feel that you “get it” when you cite the challenges their peers currently face and understand their market’s trends. Be sure to ask probing questions to get more details around their experiences while citing this credibility – “Other human resource execs are telling me that it is increasingly difficult to find quality employees these days. How are you able to attract great talent?”
Summarize and paraphrase what your prospect is saying to ensure you fully understand their situation. Often, this will prompt them to offer more information to correct your summary or provide additional colored commentary.
Identify What Isn’t Said
Pay attention to tonality and emotionally charged verbiage. This can help you identify hidden pains that your prospect isn’t openly discussing. Identifying the emotional motivation behind what someone is saying will help you address what really matters.
The longer you get your prospect talking, the more information they offer about themselves. Whether it is personal or pertinent to professional pain, any insight they provide will help you establish a value-based pitch that helps them in a meaningful way.
The most successful professionals are those that listen more and talk less. As we collect more data over time on % talk vs. listen ratios, we’ll be able to answer the question, “How much should a sales rep talk vs. listen to optimize win rates?” in a scientific way with real data, not opinion.
One way we do this is by separating who is speaking in call recordings to display the talk to listen ratio.
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