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Peak Performance Management, Inc. | Pittsburgh, PA

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So how do you do this? Simple. Ask more questions. Not just any questions. Especially not close-ended questions that get yes or no answers. Ask open ended questions that start with words like what, why, and how. They get prospects to open up and talk more about their pain indicators and pains.Many salespeople, talk too much during sales calls. That’s right. The mouth is going 80 percent of the time. And the ears are working only 20 percent of the time. The way to sell more is by reversing this ratio. Try talking 20 percent of the time and listening 80 percent of the time.

Next step: After you ask an open-ended question, say nothing, sit tight, and wait for the prospect to answer. This may take practice, because salespeople tend to talk, when they should say nothing.  In fact, the longest the average most salespeople can keep quiet after asking a question is – are you ready for this – point six seconds.

Remember this as you start your sales call: The first problem a prospect talks about is usually the most superficial pain indicator. It’s never the real problem. Getting to the substance of his or her difficulties takes drilling down, nicely but steadily, with questions that ask the prospect to tell you more, explain in greater detail until you discover the actual problem and his or her feelings about the problem.

If you’re uneasy about talking less and asking more questions, look at it this way: On a sales call, the person in control is the one who’s asking the questions, not the one who’s answering.

To put it still another way, the more you talk, the more you surrender control to your prospect. The more you banter, the further you’ll be from closing a sale and making money.

Talking less and asking more creates a pattern break that can diplomatically jar a prospect out of his or her set formula for controlling the sales call—getting you to talk about the solutions you and your company can provide before you’ve scoped out the prospect’s real need(s).

What’s more, asking questions gets equal give and take going and sets up a peer-to-peer business relationship with a prospect. When you get on the same plateau, your prospect won’t talk down to you. Instead, your prospect will engage you as a trusted consultant and accept you as such. The result: more sales for you.

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