Talking – 4th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Today, as part of my continuing series on the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture, I present:

#4 – You Can Talk – It’s Your Mind that Has to Shut Up

I’ve written about this subject before –Beyond Listening Skills.

For more than 40 years, sales authors, experts and trainers have been telling their readers, subscribers and clients about the importance of talking 30% of the time and listening 70% of the time.  That ratio is not etched in stone.  Even 50/50 is acceptable.  The stage of the sales process dictates the ratio more than the ratio itself. For instance, if your salespeople are following the Baseline Selling process, they would talk 100% in the earliest phase of Getting to 1st Base, and probably 10% in the later phase of Getting to 1st Base.  They would probably talk 10% of the time while Getting to 2nd Base.  They might talk 50% of the time on the way to 3rd Base and 90% of the time when Running Home.

So it’s not how much they can talk as much as it’s when they can talk.  But more important than whether they talk or not, is whether their minds are active.  When they talk to themselves, several things might be going on in their minds:

  • plan several questions ahead;
  • strategize on the fly;
  • create solutions as they hear problems;
  • qualify in their heads;
  • worry about lack of progress;
  • get excited as they react to progress.

Their active minds will cause them much more trouble than talking too much.  If they are in a talk 10% of the time stage of the sales process and their minds are actively engaged in one of the activities above, they won’t hear what their prospects are saying. When that happens they won’t be able to ask the right follow up questions.  Instead, they’ll ask the next question on their list, an appropriate question to ask at some point, but not as a follow up to what they likely just missed.  This important miss will cause them to be ineffective at going wide and deep, preventing them from uncovering the real problems and identifying the compelling reasons to buy from you.

So what can you do? Send them back to school for the 3 R’s.

  • Role Playing
  • Repetition
  • Reinforcement

The 3 R’s will help IF they have been taught, shown and demonstrated the proper listening and questioning skills in the first place.  And if they have any of the following weaknesses, the problem might be complicated further:

  • Need for Approval
  • Getting Emotionally Involved
  • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection
  • Being Too Trusting
  • Outlook Problem
  • Excuse Making Problem