As a follow up to my last article, “How to Stop Talking to Yourself," you may be wondering what to do with all that new-found silence you find yourself sitting in. All businesses wish they could do a better job of explaining the benefits of what they do to potential customers. This passion for their products or services usually leads to lots of desperate talking and explaining. No matter how much you talk or explain, people just don’t seem to “get it.” So what if I told you that you could communicate better without trying? Communicate better through shutting up.
Questions Are Better than Answers
When you are lucky to find yourself in a meeting, it usually means that you are talking to someone who is aware of some need they have, and they have a set of criteria in their head about how to fill that need. Jumping into a huge pitch before you know what that criteria is means you are more than likely to talk yourself into being unqualified to them. Instead, asking questions about what the clients need, what caught their interest about you, what their goals for their business are, etc. will help you understand what “hidden criteria” they have.
Educate as You Go
My favorite piece of sales advice I've heard is “don’t answer an unasked question.” You may think a client would hire you if they only knew everything about you, but you’re wrong. You don't need to tell them everything because you have something to hide, but rather because you have no way of effectively communicating everything about yourself to a client without tripping over misunderstandings and irrelevant information.
Keep your sales pitch to a minimal representation of your values, products and services and then wait for the customer to ask you questions. No questions? Then YOU ask questions. Just don’t stand there talking into an abyss while you guess what they want to hear. No matter how long you have been in the business, what have you, don't guess. Answer their questions and then ask them more questions.
Letting Customers Sell Themselves
Politicians know this trick really well. If you speak in terms of positive moods, emotions and vision, you leave the door open for people to “imprint” their criteria on you. This is mostly because everyone knows what they want, but no one knows how to get it. Every now and then you get someone clear minded enough to know exactly what they want, which is fun (as long as what they want is what you can fulfill). Otherwise, most of the time you are navigating a fog and the best thing to do is lead the client one step at at time.