How Much Information Is Too Much Information

Tips for finding the right amount of information to share with a customer without the risk of talking yourself out of a sale.

You're face to face with a prospect that seems to be interested in considering your company for their work. While the buying signs appear to be faintly present you have much more information that you could share but you're worried that it might be overkill. What do you do?

First of all, if you have found yourself in this same situation congratulation! Most contractors and estimators never challenge themselves with such smart considerations and push right on through to unload as much information as possible…and live to regret it!

Knowing "how much is too much" information is an area of customer interaction that must be met head on. Consider the following tips or risk talking yourself right out of the sale and even the client's long-term plans.

1. Have a Strategy Prior to Meeting
This is good practice whether you are in a sales situation or discussing personnel issues with an employee. You should always plan on setting some objectives prior to meeting with a prospect. This step alone can keep you more conservatively tied to a script that allows for some flexibility without shooting your foot!

2. Identify Early What Prospect Prefers Regarding Information
Some prospects will be all about viewing pictures of past jobs completed by your firm. Some will enjoy visiting about their friend or business peer who recommended you and your company. Some prospects will simply want the facts and that's it! Whatever preference you spot from the prospect look to stay close to such preferences and only venturing outside this when it feels right to transition.

3. Take Notes Throughout Meeting
This sale "basic" allows you to control more of the information exchange and can actually slow you down a bit prior to just dumping more info on the prospect. Taking notes encourages the prospect to slow down a bit in their talking or request making and encourages a more methodical flow of exchange.

4. "Leave em' Wanting More"
Better to withhold a lot of additional information or brochures on your way out of the meeting than to overwhelm them with loads of reading material, which they are most likely to file or throw away. Just dumping a bunch of material on a prospect, especially on your way out, projects "I'm not getting this sale but just in case…" behavior and is less than championship selling.

5. Briefly Explain Information & Its Purpose
This is a great technique to use that is not often taught in Sales "101" classes. When you do have several brochures or fact pages to share, be careful to explain the primary purpose and importance of each document. In fact, I often attached a Post-it Note with a hand-written note containing a brief explanation. I have found that later when the prospect sees the Post-it Note there is a subliminal thought that they had made the notation and will be less likely to throw away.

6. Ask the Prospect What Specific Information They Need
Nothing like going to the source to begin with, right? Prospects, until they really get to know you better, will basically read only what interests them the most or what they think is important. So…. ask them! This not only cuts to the chase but also directs your attention to where they are in the buying process.

Even with these techniques in place knowing exactly the right amount of information to give a prospect can still be a "crap-shoot." Obviously if the prospect's eyes are rolling back due to the overabundance of info that's a good sign that maybe you have crossed the line.

A safe rule of thumb is to have the information available for those "info crazed" prospects who actually believe that the contractor or estimator with the most information is the best BUT only give out what your heart tells you they will address. Like your crew's effort to produce consistent quality you too need to find that quality mix of providing valuable information without presenting too much that overwhelms and more often confuses your prospect.