Sales people, stop talking and let your prospects run the meeting

Often in sales we are so pre-occupied with what WE want to say, that we end up neglecting the only important person on the call – the prospect.

This post has been inspired by my last 18 months in Silicon Valley, where I have been privy to meetings with general business decision makers all the way to executive level billionaires/CEOs yet many have followed a frightening trend.

Despite years of experience and looking good on ‘paper’  – executives pitching their product or idea keep making a fatal mistake – they often talk for 10-15 minutes, sometimes more & spend ZERO time to pause and seek engagement from potential decision makers. I sit their in silence as people yawn, play with their phones in the board room & in the cold call arena – I watch countless reps cast a look of despair as they get hung up on time after time.

Not only does this style position you in the incorrect way as self-centric; but it causes you to lose a valuable opportunity to gather vital intelligence which can allow you to DYNAMICALLY cater what you say based on the needs of the customer.

Why would you spend the majority of your time talking about something that potentially no one cares about when you should be focusing on the critical details.

In simpler terms – it is like going on a first date and not asking about their interests. Remember back to those aimless dates in high school – most of the ones we all hated featured a person who focused the vast majority of the movie to share what they thought about it. Between you and I, admittedly I actually didn’t have anyone special to date in high school but I think you get the point.

In addition to coming across as more relevant, caring and relatable – there is actually hardcore evidence to show that getting your customers to speak more in the initial meeting results in more outcomes for sales professionals.

A recent study by Gong.Io found that there is a direct correlation between how long you can get your customer speaking uninterrupted and closing a deal. In both initial calls and follow ups – the probability of success rose exponentially as the customer talked more – with calls that featured the customer speaking for less than 50 seconds facing almost half the probability of a next step compared with more customer focused calls.

The question is how do we let go.

In a sales environment where we are AFRAID of losing the opportunity to speak to a prospect again – we often over compensate by doing too much on a call or in a meeting – when less is actually more.

I’d like to share three things that have worked for me to add more balance to my meetings/calls and place the prospect in a greater position to drive the success of the engagement:

1)    Set an agenda prior to the call – Send through a slide or a quick email with some discussion points and invite feedback. Given that the prospect will likely have some input – you can ask them to lead the conversation in the areas which are important to them on the actually call/in person meeting

2)    Use confirmation and opinion orientated questions to elicit a brief response

“Are you with me so far”

“Which part of this resonated most to you”

3)    Invite the prospect to reframe what you have discussed in their own words – that way you can detect whether or not the value has been established

“Based on what we have talked about today, how would you best describe what we do”

In addition to the above – throwing business out the door can also be helpful – allowing time particularly at the start of an engagement for pleasantries – which create rapport and can often create a window for the prospect to lead the conversation.

Switch roles. Empower them to lead and then follow.

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube