Don't Talk Yourself Out of Sales

If you are in sales long enough you will experience the "talk myself out of a sale" experience.

Ouch! You don't even realize it until after you have done it! You had such a great conversation going, it appeared that the customer was really interested. So you just kept talking about your company, your strengths, the benefits of hiring you — and more.

You knew that getting that customer's business was critical so telling her everything about the company, the product, you? wasn't that critical, too? Yet, after all that talking that you did the customer was polite in saying that she would need to "think about it."

"Think about it?" What was there to think about? You told her everything you knew about the best contractor in the world! Five minutes later you're in your truck preparing to drive away wondering, "what just happened?"

Reviewing your notes you realize that you don't have many notes. "Oh my gosh!" It finally hits you that you did all the talking. You talked your sales effort right by the asking, confirming, and closing!

Has anything even remotely close to this scenario ever happened to you? If you are in sales long enough you will experience the "talk myself out of a sale" experience. It is an extremely humbling situation, not to mention that it keeps you from selling.

So what do you do? What can you do to insure that you stay "in control" of yourself and maintain the poise needed to close the sale? While every selling situation is different and every sales professional's personality must be considered, in the next two "Tailgate Talk" columns I'll give you five tips you can employ to strengthen your selling effort - and help you avoid talking yourself right out of a sure sale.

Tip #1: Have a Plan

This is almost too easy to overlook doing. "I have a plan?to sell!" Yes, selling is the final objective, but there are things that you need to plan for that lead to closing the customer.

What should be in "the sales plan?" Consider the plan to be a strategy of taking the customer from some point to the next point. You could use a series of questions to do this. Record the questions that you want to ask, in the order you want to ask them, to lead to a natural "confirmation" along the way. Have the questions written down and in your possession as you are conducting your meeting.

Also, the questions should be based around the knowledge you have of the customer and the information you still need to acquire. If you don't plan your strategy you will, like the experience presented earlier, tend to just keep right on talking.

Tip #2: Know Yourself!

Do you enjoy relationship building and talking? Good! Most good contractors do! However, the same contractors realize that their strength in these areas can be a detriment to closing more sales. You must be very honest about your own personality, strengths, and weaknesses. If you are effective at breaking the ice with a customer, great, but have a sales plan. If you are effective at digging out helpful information about the customer, great, but have a plan that reflects that information. If you are effective at persuading customers, great, just don't over-shoot your effort to close the sale!

Do you get a bit nervous when customers aren't as quick to provide responses or appear to be holding back information that you need? This situation can cause some contractors to increase their talking out of pure nervousness. Remember, stay calm and collected!

Know what you are also timid about. Interestingly, many sales people are actually afraid to ask for the order. Can you believe that? The very specialty of the profession that is responsible for getting sales can include individuals who are timid when it comes time to "pull the trigger." If this is something that you suffer from then recognize it, develop your plan, write out the statement you will make at the right time to close the sale, and close!

Next column, three more tips to keep your sales effort focused and to help you avoid talking your way through the ask, confirm, and close.

Until then, have a plan, know yourself, and good selling!