Sun Tzu, the an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, said ‘Move swiftly to overcome resistance…’. In selling that is interpreted as closing when you get a buying signal.

Yet how many times have we heard the story about the sales person who is so excited about their products they get caught up in convincing the client of their buying decision by continuing to list the associated benefits thus missing the client’s buying signal only to lose the sale?

The buyer gives the sales person a clear buying signal like: ‘Where do I sign? When do we start? How many can I get?’ and so on. And what does the salesperson do? They carry on telling the prospect about additional features and benefits, none of which are of real interest to the buyer who has already made a decision to purchase. Sound like another story? Don’t be fooled there are too many sales people how have sailed past such obvious buying signals and lost sales.

Upwards of 70% of sales opportunities are lost because sales people forget to shut up!

So what should happen instead? If you get a buying signal, ask for the order and then keep quiet. But… it’s not that easy because as sales people, we get just as excited by the fact that prospects see the value we are offering as they do. And then there is the other, bigger hurdle. We don’t listen!

Here is a tip that will help you improve your listening skills and in the process, stop you from blurting out ‘nice to know’, but irrelevant additional benefits after the buying signal has sounded… After the buyer has said something, where you are required to give a response, paraphrase your understanding of what has been said, then respond. For example…

Prospective Buyer: ‘I think that your offer sounds like good value for money.’
Salesperson: ‘So you’re saying our solution matches (or addresses) your needs (or priorities)?’
Prospective Buyer: ‘Yes.’
Salesperson: ‘Great. Well let’s get started and I can now set things in motion for you.’

When you paraphrase you give yourself and opportunity to internalize what is being said. In this way you avoid the trap of not focusing on what the prospect is saying.

As tempting as it is to go over the top, less is more in this instance. Remember selling has a lot more to do with active listening and good questioning skills that it does with you being a ‘good talker’. So don’t make the fatal mistake and talk yourself out of a sale.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett,

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