In 1987 a TV series called “Max Headroom” broke onto the scene. It was a futuristic show about a network reporter who gets caught up in an experiment and becomes a computer-generated personality. The series only lasted one season (14 episodes), I think but it was fun to watch.
Unfortunately, many sales people are talking heads, too. And they aren’t so fun to watch—or listen to.
A talking head sales person is someone who shows and throws up. A few years ago I took a call with a sales person who ended up talking endlessly about his product. Although he had a great product, he lost the deal because he spent way too much time talking
Here are 7 reasons why talking head sales people seldom reach their sales quotas.
1. They talk too much
As obvious as is seems many sales people don’t get this. I recently attended a networking meeting with small business owners and I found it fascinating as I listened to people talk, talk, talk and interject their opinion at every available opportunity. I could see people rolling their eyes, yawning and trying to figure out what those people were trying to say.
2. They can’t articulate the value of their product
At the same networking meeting I mentioned above, each person had several minutes to introduce themself and explain to the group who they were, what they did, what type of business they were looking for and how they might help other people in the group.
Not surprisingly, the talking heads were unable to do this. In most cases, they rambled incoherently without giving the rest of the group a clear picture of what they did and how we could help them.
3. They talk about the wrong stuff
Talking heads tend to talk about what is important to them, not what is of value to their prospect. This approach usually results in a sales pitch that is unfocused and that fails to demonstrate the value of their product, service or offering.
4. They don’t ask questions
Talking heads seldom ask questions because they are…too busy talking, of course!
When they DO ask questions they usually interrupt their prospect before they have had a chance to fully respond or explain their situation. That prevents them from uncovering potential problems and identifying how they can actually help their prospect improve a particular situation.
5. They don’t hear the prospect
Because they are busy waiting for their turn to talk, talking head sales people often miss key information. They may nod and smile as their prospect is sharing key details of their situation but they are usually just waiting to present their solution or talk about their product or service.
6. They present the wrong solution
This becomes an obvious outcome after considering the previous points. If you don’t ask the right questions and listen to the responses, it is extremely difficult to present the appropriate solution. Enough said.
7. They miss cues and clues
Years ago, I met with a talking head sales person who spent the first 15 minutes of our meeting talking. While he was pontificating, I looked at his product and figured out—on my own—how I could use it. When he stopped to take a breath, I said, “I’ll take.”
However, rather than say something like, “Great. I’ll send you an invoice” he kept talking. In fact, after telling him three times that I wanted his product I seized it from his hands, stood up and said, “Send me the bill.”
He was so intent on telling me everything he wanted to say that he was oblivious to my not-so-obvious buying signals.
Talking heads are passionate about their product, solution or offering. They are very effective at developing great relationships with people. And, they are usually really nice people. However, they seldom reach their sales targets or quotas.
During a sales training workshop I recently conducted, the term ‘investigate’ kept cropping up and it started with a participant saying, “We need to investigate why they (the prospect) are saying that.”
If you have read my blog or articles for any length of time you know that I am a huge advocate of asking plenty of questions during the discovery phase of a sales conversation. Needless to say, I loved the word investigate!
Many sales people think they are good investigators; however, the reality is that they often wait to conduct their investigation only after their prospect expresses an objection.
A true sales investigator takes a different approach.
She asks high-value, tough and penetrating questions early in the conversation rather than waiting until her prospect resists or pushes back.
A good sales investigator understands the importance of uncovering all the pertinent information that will influence the outcome of the sale BEFORE he pitches his product, service or solution.
An effective investigator explores the reason behind a person’s hesitation to make a buying decision
It’s a simple concept…at least in theory.
The challenge is that many sales people have conditioned themselves to talk first and ask questions later–usually when their prospect expresses an objection. And breaking this habit is difficult.
Here is a strategy that can help…
Before your pitch your product, discuss your offering or present a solution ask yourself, “Do I know enough about this person’s situation to offer a solution?”
If you can answer yes to this question, you are ready to move forward. If your response is no then you need to investigate a bit more.
You would think that after 15 years of talking to prospects about sales training I wouldn’t forget to ask any questions during initial conversations.
I recently spoke with the COO of a mid-size company about delivering sales training for his team. Everything, I mean, everything was going well.
We had an intelligent conversation about his goals and objectives. We discussed what he wanted he wanted to accomplish and we talked about previous programs he had embarked on and the results he had achieved.
I submitted a proposal and followed up as promised. During that subsequent conversation he indicated that I had addressed every key issue and that he was eager to schedule a sales training workshop for his team.
That’s when I hit the roadblock.
As we discussed the timing of the program he said, “I just want to run this by my President and CEO to make sure they’re onboard with it.”
As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”
I made the common assumption that he was the key decision maker because he was a high-ranking executive in the company. I believed that he owned the decision. I was wrong.
Simply put, I forgot to ask a key question…
“Who else will you consult with before moving ahead with this decision?”
It’s a simple question. But one that often goes unasked.
If you want to increase your sales it is critical that you ask this question early in the sales conversation. Force yourself to ask who else is involved and make sure you have a conversation with them BEFORE you submit a proposal. Otherwise, your best efforts can result in a no-sale.
I help sales teams master their sales conversations so they can win more business and increase their sales. Call me for more info: Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca or 905-633-7750.
This past Monday I wrote a post called, “You Don’t Understand” that prompted a newsletter subscriber to ask me several questions in an email. Lauren’s questions are listed below along with my responses.
“The product I work with made immediate sense to me—and so I am probably particularly frustrated when it doesn’t make sense to others. It was so commonsense to me when I learned about it eight years ago that I never understand why people don’t get started right away (although there are lots of cases where people make the decision to get started many months or years down the road).
Q: How do I learn how to ask the questions that will help me understand what they understand – and don’t understand – about what I am offering?
A: I have a list of high-value questions here; although they are directed to B2B sales, you may be able to adapt them to your situation.
Q: Sometimes, people say it makes sense and then they still don’t get started or they back away from earlier interest. How does the salesperson find out what the real concerns or issues are?
A: In your conversations with new prospects ask, “What concerns would have about moving forward with this?” or if you’re following up ask, “You expressed interest when we initially spoke and I’m curious to know what’s changed?” You can also say, “Some people are hesitant to start this because (fill in the blank). How does that compare to your thoughts?” Also, are you actually asking them to get started (asking for the sale)? If not, you are missing sales opportunities.
Q: How do I, the salesperson, get over my own feeling that everyone should get this product right away and get started? (Even though I’ve seen people change their impressions over time – and now they love it – I never know what finally clicked for them. Granted, I grew up in open-minded northern California and am building this business in skeptical and slow to grasp new concepts Massachusetts.)
A: Every time you get a new customer ask them, “What prompted you to start now?”
Q: How do I better understand what health concerns they are looking to address, so I can better share the benefits of interest to them?
A: Once again, ask… “What health concerns are you looking to address?” “What prompted you to consider this product?”
As you can see, most of the approach is to ask more questions BEFORE you start talking about your product. Find out what’s important to them so you can address it when you discuss your product. Here’s a personal example:
I take greens every day. I know there are many benefits of taking greens but I’m not interested in them because I take them for one simple reason: I know it reduces the effects of spring/summer allergies. If you started telling me how greens would improve my digestion, lost weight, etc. you would lose my attention…quickly…because you wouldn’t be addressing what’s important to me.
Lauren’s situation is not uncommon.
Many sales people kn0w they should ask more questions but they are afraid of being perceived as being pushy. However, salespeople who consistently increase their sales know the importance of developing the courage to ask. As Wayne Gretzky once said, “You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
If I can help you or your company please feel free to reach out. You can contact me at 905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com