Selling Isn’t Telling: How to Talk Less and Sell More!


by: Ursula Mentjes, Sales Coach Now

Raise your hand if you think you have to talk a lot or know exactly what to say in order to sell a lot.

Hands raised?

Those are lies.

The truth is that the less you talk, the more likely it is that you will close the deal. There, I said it. Talking less WILL bring you more sales success, but the idea of silence during a sales conversation scares most people. But during the sales discussion you need to give people the time and space they deserve in order for them to make a decision.

After all, selling isn’t telling; selling is asking questions. Once you really “get this,” your sales power will be unleashed.

Top sales people train themselves to ask powerful questions. They often use the same questions over and over again. I once met a salesperson whose company had trained him to ask 14 powerful questions in the same order every single time! Yes, the same 14 questions and he had to have them memorized. Just imagine how good he got at asking those questions. He told me that by asking the questions in a certain order, he could tell very quickly whether or not the prospect was a good fit for his services. It was that easy for him. And it is the same for you.

There are powerful questions that you can ask your prospect that would help you discern very quickly whether or not you can help them. The key is to work backwards. What are the questions you would need to ask your prospect to discover whether or not your products and services are a good fit for them? Sure, you can have 14 questions if you’d like, but I’ve found that 7 powerful questions will move you quickly toward figuring out whether or not you can help the client.

By asking the right 7 questions, your prospect will actually be able to sell themselves. The questions help the client see just how your product or service will make a difference for them. That’s why it is so important to choose the “right” questions.

I’ve created 7 general questions that will hopefully get you thinking about what the best questions will be for you to ask. Please use these examples to help you create your own.

  1. Where are you now? This is my opening question. What I’m really asking is “how much are you selling now?” This question helps me create a baseline for my client. If I know where they are now, or what they’ve been averaging in the past three months in the area of sales, I know pretty quickly how fast I think I can help them move. You need to assess exactly where your client is now to get a clear picture of how you might help them.
  2. Where do you want to go? Once I understand their current monthly and annual sales level, I then want to get a clear picture of how much they want to grow their sales. And I’m not just asking for a small sales goal. I want to know their stretch sales goal[J1] . By asking this question, I can begin to uncover any limiting beliefs they might have about sales, selling, money and more. Getting a clear idea of your client’s goals is the next step once you’ve assessed their baseline.
  3. What are your top business challenges? I really like this question because I can learn a lot about a client when I can understand what is challenging them right now, specifically in the area in which I can help them. For example, I would simply ask, “What are your top three sales challenges right now?” That question will allow me to unearth the problems they are having in sales so I can suggest a product or service that will help them.
  4. What are your top business successes? I want to know what’s working in their business. For example, I would specifically ask them about their top sales successes. They might share some of the important clients they are doing business with. This will usually help me see who their top 20% is and we can then figure out how to help them find more clients like that.
  5. What are your expectations regarding _________________ (your product or service)? Once I know the problem that I can solve for the prospect, I would ask this question to figure out if I think their expectations are realistic. Perhaps they want to double their sales in 90 days. That may or may not be realistic, depending on what type of business they are in. If it’s a service based business and they are under 7 figures, sure it’s possible. If they are a manufacturing company, then it’s going to be pretty darn tough. I would need to make sure they were being realistic.
  6. What have you done in the past in the area of ______________? With this question, I would ask them if they’ve had sales training in the past. I want to know if they’ve already asked someone to help them in this area and what their results were. This question is also related to figuring out what their expectations are and whether or not I think I can manage them.
  7. How will this product or service make a difference in your business/life? This question helps me understand the “why” behind their desire to grow their sales. What makes them tick? What motivates them? Is it money? Family? Giving? This question helps me create a sense of urgency because if they truly want to increase their sales and make more money so they can give more to their non-profit, then what are they waiting for? You have to know your client’s “why.”

As you are asking your prospect the questions, remember to give them time to think and answer. Silence is golden in selling and you have to give people the space to answer your questions. The more space you give them, the more thoughtful their answers will be and the more likely it is that they will buy from you. Like a counselor, remember to practice active listening and repeat back to your prospects what you heard them say so they know you are listening to them.

When you “get it in the muscle” that selling is not telling, your sales will really skyrocket! While it sounds like a simple solution, don’t underestimate the power of asking the right questions. By asking the right questions, you can guide your prospect through the process of making an intelligent decision about your product or service.


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