How to Keep Your Sales Prospect Talking

Are you a good listener? New research shows the connection between keeping your sales prospect talking, and winning their business. In this post, we explain how.

January 30, 2017

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The rise of social selling has also given rise to the misconception that social selling eliminates the need to have a phone call with a sales prospect. While effective social selling does eliminate the outdated concept of the cold call, many prospects still prefer to conduct business over the phone.

We recently wrote about a comprehensive study that revealed the behaviors behind successful sales calls. Its findings are significant and prove why your listening skills are more important than ever during a phone call with a sales prospect.

It’s not just that the study validated every sales manager who’s preached the “listen more than you talk” mantra. It’s the extent to which we should listen that was surprising. The study found that calls in which the prospect talked for a four-minute streak were much more likely to be successful. It’s easy to understand why: Allowing the prospect to talk for that long helps you better understand how you can help them, while also making the prospect feel understood.

Here are four tips that can help you not only keep your sales prospect talking longer, but also gain a better understanding of how you can help them.

1 – Learn to Love Qualifying Questions

Qualifying questions don’t just keep your prospect talking. They’re an excellent way to gain a deep understanding that separates you from other sales professionals. After all, if you’re the only one with a detailed understanding of the business problem, you’ll be the only rep who can offer a relevant, detailed solution. Examples of qualifying questions include:

“Interesting. Tell me more about that.”

“Help me understand where that fits into your process?”

“Can you give me an example?”

2 – Have a Plan for Addressing the Competition

If the competition is discussed early in the sales process, it can actually improve your chances of advancing that prospect. Often, the prospect will bring up the competition as a way of referencing a feature they want, or a solution they are looking for. This can be an excellent cue that the prospect is about to communicate what’s important to them. Plus, your credibility surges when you can tactfully discuss a competitor and then steer the conversation back to the business problem at hand.

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3 - Provide Verbal Cues to the Prospect That You’re Listening

It’s easy to forget that prospects can’t see your head nodding. You may be listening intently, but they’re met with complete silence. Short comments like “I see” or “that makes sense” lets the prospect know that you are paying attention.

Also, if you are taking notes, let the prospect know as it’s easy to focus on your writing and stop participating for a few seconds. You may want to try recording your calls and listening back to them as it’s a great way to identify areas of improvement.

4 - Answer Questions with Questions

This is especially helpful if prospects haven’t given you enough information to properly determine their needs. Keep in mind that this tactic isn’t about being evasive, which can irritate prospects. It’s about improving your understanding.

For example, it’s common for prospects to ask, “How much does it cost?” In this case, you could answer with, “What else do I need to know before I put together a detailed proposal to solve this problem?”

By following these four tips, you’ll help prospects do a better job of explaining how you can help them. And as a result, you’ll be better equipped to help. It’s a classic win-win.

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