All conversations are voluntary. We sometimes forget that fact. When we make an appointment to talk to a customer, we tend to rely on that fact and assume that the person will be interested in talking to us. But your customer likely did not intend to sit through a monologue. You want to have a sales conversation—which means that both of you talk and both of you listen. As the sales person, you want to foster an environment in which great conversations can occur between you and your customer/prospect.
Even though you need to explain things, you want to manage the talk/listen ratio. Nothing can be more boring that listening to someone talk on and on and on—especially if you have something to contribute. In fact, the more you let someone talk, the more interested they are in meeting with you. I remember my days as a sales rep when I picked up a speaker and drove him to the hotel where he was scheduled to talk. After we got settled in the car, I asked him one question about how he came to be interested in his field of expertise. The rest of the hour drive was spent listening to him tell me more than I ever wanted to know. As we approached the hotel, he confided to me: “I can see why you are good in sales. You are a great conversationalist.” I doubt I said more than twenty words.
People love to talk. In selling, you want to encourage your customer to actively participate in the conversation. For only then can you learn more about your customers and their issues/concerns which you are there to help them address. The crucial question becomes, “How do you get people to want to listen to you?”
First, you need to communicate that you want to understand their perspective, their point of view and that nothing is more important to you than learning what they think. Then you want to ask questions that encourage them to open up and share their thoughts and concerns. The key to doing this is how you ask questions. You should choose questions that demonstrate your sincerity in learning about them. You want to share enough information so that they recognize your expertise so that they will be comfortable in confiding to you. Thinking like the customer, it would be hard to share information about an issue if you (the customer) feel that the person you are speaking to does not have any the requisite knowledge about your issues/concerns.
It helps to remember that conversations are voluntary. Your customer/prospect has taken time from their busy day to talk to you. Let them talk. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Ask questions that are relevant and meaningful. Ask questions that encourage thought and provoke discussion. That way you’ll learn what you need to know so you can position the right product/service to meet your customer’s needs.