In sales, be interested, not interesting

Often when I’m at a networking event (in person or online) or I’m watching someone sell (or sell to me), I see the same behaviour… people making themselves the focus of the conversation.

It’s not that they are being intentionally self-centred or arrogant, they are usually simply talking about their company or their product or service.

Now, the caveat I always put on this, is that sometimes people do this because they are nervous, or they don’t know what else to do.

So, if you are one of those people who talk a lot when you’re trying to sell something, note, it’s not a crime! But there are some ways you can make your conversation more successful.

Just recently, I caught myself talking a little longer than I ordinarily would when someone asked me what kind of work I do. It’s not as if their eyes glazed over, it was only that I was aware it was time to share the air-time.

Imagine your sales meeting (yes, we call it a ‘sales meeting’ because ideally we want to sell something, right?) as a pie chart (pie image for reference also because it looks delicious).

If you could split up the time in your sales meeting between you talking and your prospect talking, what would it look like?
The first sales meeting I have with a new prospect takes between 40-60 minutes and on average, I am only talking for around 20% of the time. The rest of the time is filled with 2 things:

  1. My prospect talking
  2. Strategic silence (which makes the conversation calm and considered)

For those who have been following my content for a while, then you’ll be familiar with how I talk about ensuring that your sales meetings are purposeful and deliberate. The opposite of this of course, is just ‘winging it’.

Tip for new players: If you wing it, you won’t win it.

Aside from being purposeful in your sales meetings, you MUST resist the urge to make yourself the hero of the story. Your sales meeting should allow your prospect to be the hero, so ensure you are not stealing all the air-time. (Credit to my client Melissa Packham – a brilliant strategic marketer – who has allowed me to use that rationale).

To help you to be Interested and not Interesting in your sales meetings, I’ll share with you the format I teach in my Infinite Sales System program and you can see how this might work for you.

1. Outline a very brief agenda of what the meeting will cover

2. ~30 minutes asking strategic questions about their situation and their business. RESIST the urge to fast-forward this part just so you can get to the bit about you.

3. Summarise what you have heard

4. Now you get to talk about you, but make sure you do it in a way that makes them sit up and pay attention

5. Invite objections (yes, invite them, do not run away from them!)

6. Agree what the next steps are in your process before the meeting concludes

This is the format I follow in my sales conversations and it is yet to fail me, or any of my clients. Why don’t you give it a try?