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No More Chit Chat

Jul 1, 2008
Americans love to talk. Americans also love to be talked to -- listening to the TV or the stereo or talk radio -- anything so that there's no silence. Silence we seem to delegate to those few days a year when we get back to nature. In conversations, especially, there's a real fear of silence, an awkwardness that sort of permeates the in between spaces where there is no one talking and most people will do anything possible to fill up that silence with noise regardless of whether or not it's going to damage their chances of selling their product or service.

We chatter. We fill in the spaces with inane nothingness. I know that my students and those of you in sales are familiar with the cliche persona of the classic sales person who looks around his or her prospect's office and takes note of the photos on the wall or art or whatever, and begins to talk about the husband or wife, how are the kids, what's going on in the golf game, et cetera, and basically chit chats their prospect into non-compliance. The sale was in the bag, but not signed off on, and the odds are dwindling the more they talk.

Personally one of the biggest breakthroughs that happened for me in my career in sales is when I realized that I didn't have to spend a tremendous amount of time in chit chat. I can tell you I can't even count, as I was growing up and starting out in sales, the number of times when chit chat derailed my objective. It was a constant. I would say something wrong or I would go on too long about a particular topic and next thing you know, I was derailed.

I realized I was absolutely giving the prospect or client an out by chattering on too long. I wondered, why don't they like me more, why don't they want to be my friend? Why don't they want to talk about personal, day-to-day stuff with me? I can tell you exactly why. . . they were not getting from me the answer to the burning question within them.

I realize I have been blessed with the gift of gab. The shift in my thinking came when I realized I had to fashion what I was saying to focus intently on the prospect and their needs and not my own agenda.

And what is that burning question? Well, basically, it's "What can you do for me, Kenrick?" All our prospects really want to know is what's in it for them. What are we going to help them with. The only way to realize the answers is to ask the questions and get their criteria and stay out of their way well they tell us about it. After that, it's up to us to get to the meaning, the definitions, of this criteria.

Criteria and its meaning have got to be the foremost thing in your mind when making a sale, no ifs, ands or buts. Remember this, and you won't be derailed.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of affluent prospects using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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