Please Stop Talking

Who is always the least interesting person at a party?  The guy who talks about himself all the time.  And who do people find interesting?  The girl who asks questions, shows genuine interest, and is engaged in the conversation.

Most sales people (including me) love to hear themselves talk.  Its hard to ask open-ended questions and wait for your customer to finish, intently taking in their answers.  Instead of listening, we’re preparing the rebuttal, anxious to take over the conversation so that we can dive into our pitch.

In a recent post, Wil Brawley @ Schedulefly.com suggests that asking “why” like a five year old forces you to justify the decisions you make – and make adjustments to your business based on the answers you come up with.  His post reminded me of how important it is to ask questions, and how valuable (although difficult) it is to let your customer do the talking.

Try this:  The next time you talk to someone (in a social or business setting), make a concerted effort to ask questions and listen intently.  You may be surprised by how much you’ve been missing.

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2 Responses to “Please Stop Talking”

  1. Paul DeMore Says:

    Why would I want to do that? If I did what questions would I ask?

    Just practicing! : > Good Advice

  2. Wes Aiken Says:

    Matt – great post! I could not agree more – as could most – I suspect. The one problem I find with this in social siutations, while I agree 100% with your thoughts, is that finding someone enjoyable to listen to and someone from whom you might learn something valuable is getting harder and harder to do now. I think this push to get everyone in the world on Twitter and Facebook and Linked in – and getting them to tell the world what they are doing every few hours via status updates – is leaving less time for real engaging conversations. People are just constantly updating their staus, telling you what they are doing and showing you with a photo stream of their life. Seems like I meet more and more people now who just tell me stuff. They are like a real live Twitter page – just an quicky, fast, list of updates about their life. So the listening strategy actually backfires in social situations because the annoying friend of a friend realizes he has the attention of someone to listen….a warm body to hear all the greta things they have going on. Just a like Twitter- you can tell 574 people, at once, all the great things going on in your life and never hear them respond…or care to.

    On occasion I do find someone interesting to listen to and learn from and they usually they feel the same way about me – which is why it works. It is a true conversation. We smile, we nod, we laugh, we agree and we dig deeper to learn more from each other. I guess my point is if you only listen and you do not have an opportunity to balance the conversation so both sides learn and enjoy – its usually a waste of time for the listener. In sales – this may be different – but since sales is usually about building a relationship I would think both sides listening and learning (instead of just listening to customers problems)and letting them talk your ear off) would be a win-win in the end.

    Keep writing man – these are great posts.
    Wes

    p.s Im off twitter, facebook, linkedin and all the others….and my life is calm and lessy noisy – jsut like it was a few years ago. my neighbors get an occasional status update from me at weekend cookouts – but only after they ask for it.

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