Harvard Study Explains Why Sales People Talk Too Much
An article in today's Wall Street Journal caught my eye, "Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much." It talks about a Harvard University study that finds:
"Talking about ourselves...triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money..." It goes on to say "In several tests, (the neuroscientists) offered volunteers money if they chose to answer questions about other people...rather than themselves...Despite the financial incentive...(volunteers) willingly gave up between 17% and 25% of their potential earnings."
Ask a sales manager who has been on a joint sales call recently and they'll tell you the test subjects got off easy. When sales people talk about themselves instead of engaging the prospective customer in tough, timely questions they almost certainly give up more than 17% to 25% of their potential earnings!
This is one of the most common issues we run into when we work with a sales team. Instead of asking good, tough, timely questions....questions that help the prospect think about their situation in a new way....questions that challenge the way a prospect is doing things currently....questions that reframe the issue and create urgency....questions that highlight the consequences of NOT acting to fix a problem....questions that help your sales person earn respect and credibility....questions that uncover compelling reasons for the prospect to move forward and more importantly to move forward with your company. Instead of doing all of that, what do most sales people do? What do your sales people do?
If they're like many of the sales people we meet when we first get started, they probably do exactly what the test volunteers in the Harvard Study did. They talk about themselves. They talk about their product. They talk about the features and benefits of their service. In short, they puke all over themselves and stick to what they know rather than engaging the prospect in a real conversation by asking great questions.
What would happen to your revenue growth if your sales people learned a different lesson from this Harvard Study? What if they learned how to ask good, tough, timely questions that got your prospects talking about their problems and challenges? About their strategies and plans? About their company and their job?
This study cuts both ways. When your sales team learns to get out of their own way and ask questions that get your prospective customers talking, you'll have more awards to hand out and bigger bonus checks to sign at the end of the year. How many of your sales people are capable of making that transition? Do you have a sales team or just a group of professional braggarts? How does your sales team measure up?