Selling is hard—especially with higher priced products and services where the competitors are strong and numerous, and the buyers are educated, demanding, and busy. To succeed at this level it takes a deep knowledge of one’s products and services—and a whole lot more. It also takes the ability to understand the customer’s business and issues that go well beyond product knowledge.
With technology changes, there are certainly people in sales that aren’t doing all that much “talking” to customers, but that’s not the type of selling we’re talking about here. When the selling challenge has to do with getting in to see busy people, and convince them to choose our service over our competitors, then verbal skills are often the deciding factor. It’s not just what we know, it’s how well we can communicate what we need. The specific factors are our ability to:
- Explain complex things in a simple, easy to understand way
- Ask clear, relevant questions, listen and respond in a natural, non-threatening way
- Understand what matters most to customers and tailor our message to it
- Lead a conversation in a way that feels comfortable to customers
These are hard things to do when we consider the different personalities we deal with in sales. We have found that people acquire bad verbal habits that seem hard to break, and that are a serious speed bump for them in terms of generating sales results. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
- An inability to express ourselves in a clear and concise way. Taking too many words and too much time to say too little
- Speaking in terms of our own interests and not being able to phrase our ideas in a way that is appealing to the interests of others
- Poor listening skills. Interrupting too often and reacting too quickly to what we hear with our opinions instead of allowing our questions and curiosity to open up the conversation
- Communicating from the perspective of what we want and not being able to think and communicate from the perspective of what others want and being a help in making that happen
- Repetitive words that sneak into patterns that are annoying to the listener
These are really hard habits to break. In fact, it’s not easy to for some to even become aware of these ingrained habits, let alone change them. Unfortunately, for many, every time they speak, they reinforce these habits over and over.
So what can be done about it?
We’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to just think oneself out of these habits. The only way to replace bad selling habits is with a two-step process. First, listen to examples and demonstrations of better communication methods, usually by exceptionally good communicators. Second, work with a coach that can put you through verbal drills and repetition that breaks those habits.
Verbal skills are much more like athletic skills. The thinking part is important, but the verbal “muscles” are different than the knowledge we have. For instance, you can read and think about getting in shape or improving your golf game all you want, but at some point, you have to get out and start exercising–or hitting golf balls the right way— in order to improve. Verbal fluency is the same way. It’s not just practice and repetition, it’s practicing the right things the right way. Otherwise you’re just reinforcing more bad habits
It would be great if there was an easier way, but there isn’t, which is why so many salespeople are dull, uninspiring, and unsuccessful communicators.
That’s why we built the SellingGym. Salespeople need a place to hear examples of great communication, hook up with a verbal skills coach, and practice until the repetition and drills push the bad habit out and new habits can form.
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