I have talked myself out of several sales. And almost every honest salesperson will say the same. What’s more, I see executives and entrepreneurs that completely dismantle opportunities because they want to make sure they get every, and I mean every, aspect of their product or service offering on the table. They don’t understand this very important mantra, “Talk Less, Sell More”.
What Sheldon Cooper can teach us about sales?
Or should I say, what can Sheldon Cooper tell us about not conducting sales. My wife and I are big fans of the “Big Bang Theory”. Maybe it’s because we’re closet nerds. I don’t know. But the character of Sheldon Cooper, portrayed by Jim Parsons, makes me laugh.
But in real life, Sheldon Coopers are a real pain. For those who don’t watch the show, Dr. Sheldon Cooper is a genius. And he wants everyone else in the room to know that. He doesn’t value any else’s opinion and doesn’t mind telling them so. I used to work for a Sheldon Cooper.
Now my Sheldon did not have a pHD, nor was he a physicist. But he was a smart guy. And he loved telling people how much smarter he was than them (great sales tactic #1). He also managed to suck all of the air out of the room by completely dominating the conversation and not allowing anyone else a chance to say anything (sales tactic #2).
The Kiss of Death in Sales
The kiss of death in sales is to not show interest in the customer and instead focus only on your product or service. Here’s something that many people don’t understand about sales. The customer could not care less about your product! Let me say that again. The customer does not care about your product. Additionally, they don’t care about how you were inspired to create it. Nor do they care about that magical formula you discovered or the key ingredient that makes your unique. They don’t care. I promise you.
Here’s what they care about…. are you ready? They care about what it’s going to do for them!
So, if you want to have more success in sales, here are a few bullet points for you:
- Talk less. Let the client talk 80% of the time. (Side note, in one client meeting, my “Sheldon Cooper” spoke for 58 minutes and 30 seconds out of one hour, no joke).
- Listen to them. And I mean “really listen to them”. So, put down the phone (keep it in your pocket or leave it in your car or office). Give them the opportunity to speak 58 minutes out of the hour. My personal target is 80/20. Remember, let them talk 80% of the time.
- Make a connection. It’s great if we can connect with a client on a personal level. But if not, at least connect on a professional one. Maybe you have some common connections or have worked on some similar projects.
Learn the difference between your “why” and your “how”
Simon Sinek has made “finding your why” everyday speech in today’s business lexicon. And I agree with him 100%. But far too many people confuse their “how” with their “why”. This is where entrepreneurs often get into trouble. They often are so excited about their new concept, that it becomes the primary thing they want to talk about. Let’s examine some differences:
- Your “why” is that you believe the method for handling small business loans is unfair and makes it difficult for small business owners to get financing
- But your “how” is that you discovered a flaw in how traditional businesses are financed and you came up with a new method
- Your “why” is that you want to help people communicate
- But your “how” is that you created a technology that vastly improves video communications between remote locations
- Your “why” is that you love to help others be successful
- But your “how” is that you started a business coaching and training company to help business owners be successful
It’s not always easy to separate your “why” from your “how”. That’s because the “how” is what gets us excited as entrepreneurs. But it’s the “why” that engages potential customers.
Where do you go next?
Here are some tips for those struggling with this “talk less sell more” concept:
- Put a timer on you in your next few client meetings. Maybe you have someone come along with you to do this. Or record the conversation and play it back later. Who speaks the most? If you are over 40% you are talking way too much.
- Get involved with a networking group that can help you hone the skill of talking about your “why”, and doing it succinctly. Most BNI groups and other similar groups limit your pitch to 1 minute or less. This is a great practice. Toastmasters is another organization that helps you hone the skill of communicating clearly and succinctly.
- Work on your listening skills. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Try using them in that proportion.
- Go back to some of those lost opportunities and ask for their honest opinion. Hopefully, you will find one that will give you an honest critique.