Sales People, Stop Talking & Start Listening!


Is there anything worse than the sales person who just talks AT their prospects and customers??!

We all know the type, and have all probably experienced it at some point. They get over excited trying to TELL you why you should buy their product that they don’t actually stop to ask any questions or listen to what you may actually need. It’s all “Hey look at how amazing my product is, look at these awesome features and benefits and here are a million reasons why you should buy it”!

I actually saw this first hand last week at the Sales Innovation Expo. There were hundreds of exhibitors all keen to generate sales opportunities across the 2 day event. Sales people lined up at each stand ready to talk to the thousands of attendees that were due in.

Now what you would like to see if a load of passionate sales people asking LOTS of questions, qualifying those that would benefit from their product and then discussing how it can help them.

Is that what happened?

Unfortunately not. Instead what I saw were A LOT of sales people who spent 90% of the time telling anyone and everyone who walked by how amazing their product was. It was just features, benefits, case studies etc

I can understand where this comes from. Sales people are often bought in, given aggressive sales training, high targets and told to go out and sell. That process builds them up to believe the right thing to do is try to MAKE people want their product. This is often even more extreme at trade shows and events where there is even more pressure to perform on the spot.

Does this approach work? No, not often!

I spoke to one of the UK’s leading sales trainers, Marcus Cauchi at the event and he told me about an experiment he did. A while back he attended a similar event and set out to speak to as many exhibitors as possible. In total he was only asked a handful of questions, with most of the sales people not even asking his name. Now if you’re qualifying a customer and trying to build a buyer-seller relationship, a name might be a good place to start!

Here is my plea to ALL sales professionals out there….

Stop talking so much and start LISTENING!

It’s probably worth noting that yes crocodiles DO have ears, but they are very small!

You have TWO ears and ONE mouth, so use that as your ratio for talking/listening to your prospects and customers. Listen TWICE as much as you talk. Use the time that you do talk to ask questions and show understanding whilst then encouraging them to talk and open up to you.

Let’s look at two possible situations……

Situation 1

Salesperson: Hi There, have you heard of our company before?

Prospect: Um….no I don’t think I have…

Salesperson: Well let me tell you were are a top 50 recognized provider of printing solutions to this industry, our product is award winning and used by lots of companies just like yours. Look at these amazing features that make our product so amazing? It’s pretty good right?

Prospect: Sure, sounds great…..

Salesperson: Ok so when can I book you in for a demonstration?

Prospect: Well I was just looking for information at this stage…..

Situation 2

Salesperson: Hi There, what brings you here today?

Prospect: Well I’m look at printing solutions. I work for a large company, we have around 25 printers but there are just too many problems with them.

Salesperson: Oh I see, what sort of problems are you experiencing?

Prospect: Well they break down on a regular basis and the time between logging the fault and getting it solved is way too long, we fear we may even be losing business due to these faults.

Salesperson: Ah I see, I can see how that must be frustrating and quite scary to think of the impact to your business. We actually have a 2 hour fault repair guarantee on our print solutions and we use the leading brand of printers to ensure our fault ratio is the lowest possible. Would you like me to book you a demonstration?

Prospect: Sure, that would be really helpful actually.

I’m sure you can see how in situation 1 we found out more about the salesperson where as in situation 2 we found out a lot more about the buyer. Now these are totally fictional situations and it’s not always as black and white as that, but if you think about it WHAT you say will have a huge impact on what you achieve from the conversation.

If you go into the conversation DROWNING them in information and basically aggresively selling to them, they’re going to put their defensive barriers up and are more likely to not trust you. If instead you ask THEM questions and LISTEN to them, they’ll feel like you’re interested and value what they’re saying. With what they’ve told you they’re also more likely to trust you as they feel that you know them now.

For a lot of sales people however talking is the first instinct, so you have to make an EFFORT to stop and listen. Here are a few things you can do that might help:

1) Keep a list in front of you! If you’re cold calling, have a long list of questions right in front of you or stuck to the wall next to you. It could be 10, 20, 30+ questions for any various situation, but they are there in front of you as prompts and reminders during your calls.

2) Bring questions with you. If you’re attending a meeting with a prospect bring a list of questions with you. You don’t need to read through them like they’re a questionnaire, but again use them as a guide, a prompt or a reminder to help you gain more information.

3) Write a list of the information you need. You should also write a list of ALL the information you could possibly want or need from a prospect. This will not only help you design the questions you need to ask but will also help focus your mind on why listening more will help you achieve that information. You’re certainly not going to get that information by talking at them!

4) Watch yourself when you talk! Keep an eye on yourself, if you feel that you’re talking too much, STOP! Be aware that you may end up talking too much so watch yourself.

To put it simply……..


If you ask more questions and listen more you’ll be able to:

  • Build better relationships with your prospects
  • Learn more information about them
  • Identify more buying signals
  • Find more pain points to help you sell
  • Build more trust with your prospects

You may not even realise that you’re talking more than you’re listening at the moment so for today start to think about it more than usual and see if by talking less and listening more you might actually achieve more!

If you agree with this then please click LIKE below and let me know your thoughts in the COMMENTS box. Do you think listening helps you sell? Are you a customer, would you like sales people to talk LESS and LISTEN more?

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

The Top 10 Sales Trends For 2018

The 10 Things That Will NEVER Change In Sales

Successful Salespeople SELL With Why…

The 10 Films You MUST Watch If You Work In Sales!

About the author: 

Daniel Disney is the UK’s leading sales writer and social selling expert and is alsp the Founder and Owner of The Daily Sales. With over 180 sales blogs written over the last couple of years read by millions, Daniel has become a source of knowledge, motivation and inspiration for sales people all across the world.

If you're working in sales make sure you follow The Daily Sales pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!

We share the best sales entertainment, motivation and the best sales blogs each and every day! Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the best sales memes, quotes, blogs and book reviews straight to your inbox.

Is there a book you would like us to review? Send us an email to