Conciseness and clarity. Two elements that enable you to articulate your ideas on a sales call.
When your message is clear, so is your value proposition. This is because it can be easily understood.
Truth is, there are things that inhibit this from happening.
A big one being talkative prospects!
The problem with talkative prospects is that they derail the meaningful part of the conversation. But the real trick is trying to understand if they are a naturally talkative person, or they are in fact a tyre kicker in disguise.
Knowing how to deal with this is the difficult part. But mastering how to deal with this situation makes sales a craft worth pursuing.
How do you handle talkative prospects?
The way to handle talkative prospects is by setting clear expectations. Outlining an agenda at the start of the call is an effective measure taken by sales professionals. It sets boundaries around the conversation and helps to ensure that only relevant topics are discussed throughout the call.
So taking this into consideration, let’s look at the all the best strategies to implement when handling talkative prospects.
1. Preventative Measures
When thinking about handling talkative prospects we can categorise strategies into:
1. Preventative Measures
2. In the Moment Strategies
Often when we can implement the preventative strategies effectively, you never have to directly rein in a talkative prospect.
Below are two preventative measures you can look to use.
Put Value on your time
The prospect isn’t going to talk about unnecessary information if they believe that you are someone who can truly help their situation. You need to position yourself as an expert, as this inherently puts value on your time.
Think about a time where you went to the doctors…
Did you discuss unnecessary information? Like what you did last week, or the type of car you just bought?
Of course not!
This is because you see the doctor as an expert in their field and someone who can genuinely help alleviate your current problem. This same kind of scenario is what you need to strive for.
So, what is the best way to do this?
We can do this very easily with our tonality. People inherently know what an expert sounds like and will defer to their opinions, once they trust their reasoning. This can be influenced by the way we sound. You have to come across as confident and direct, with a very clinical tone of voice.
Often salespeople get caught up with trying to get the prospect to like them, and their tonality is conducive to being very friendly. This just doesn’t work because it actually facilitates talking about irrelevant topics.
The point is, an expert is not trying to be your friend. They are problem solvers and you can hear that in their voice.
Check out this article around tonality on how to execute such a strategy.
Another easy way you can put the value on your time is by giving guidance and value to the prospect.
Oftentimes prospects become talkative because they have written you off as someone who can help their situation.
Without you even knowing you’ve turned into a soundboard for their day-to-day issues, rather than a problem solver for their business.
Before the call with the prospect be sure to do some industry research to show some trends and figures specific to their industry.
Outside of your solution, can you give them expertise to help other areas of their business? If you can give them some value or a way to better their business in the short term this will also help position yourself as an expert and put value on your time.
The truth is, if you put value on your time the prospect will never become talkative. They will be listening attentively to what you’re saying because they recognise you as someone who can genuinely help their business.
Set An Agenda at the Start of Your Call
It’s critical to use an agenda at the start of the call because it sets the tone and objectives of the call.
Setting the agenda means you’ve created a metaphoric boundary as to what content will be discussed throughout the conversation.
For example, if you have a clear objective to get the prospect up and running by the end of the call, this will be the focus on only related topics will be discussed.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about other aspects outside of the call objectives, because after all people buy from people. They don’t want to talk to a robot because prospects want a human experience throughout the sales process.
With that said, it’s important that you dictate the conversation on your terms and not the prospect’s. This will enable you to handle a potentially talkative prospect.
There’re many different frameworks for an agenda you can use but he’s an example that you may want to consider.
A = Appreciate
“Hi Tom, appreciate your taking the time for the call today”.
Prospect may reply
C = Check
“Just want to check with you that we are still all set for the 45 minutes you had booked in?”
Prospect may reply
E = Expectations
“So what we expect to achieve at the end of this call is “XYZ” and “123”, how does that sound on your end?
Setting an agenda like this firmly sets expectations for the call.
It is also a good idea to ask if there’s anything else the prospect would like to cover throughout the call, to respect their own requirements.
Always remember to keep the key agenda points as the focus though!
2. In the Moment Strategies
With these strategies the prospect has already started to talk about unnecessary ideas, so how can we rein them in?
It’s a delicate situation because you don’t want to offend the prospect but at the same time you need to safeguard yourself, and ensure you still maintain favorable outcomes at the end of the call.
Below are some effective strategies to use.
Know When NOT to Ask an Open Ended Question
In sales we want to ask open ended questions as often as possible to get information from the prospect.
In the case of a talkative customer, this isn’t always the best way to approach the conversation.
With open ended questions there’s no firm boundary to what the prospect can talk about, and this can lead to tangents that aren’t related to what you’re trying to understand.
It could take 5 minutes for them to finish their tangent! You just don’t have time for this.
In this scenario, it’s a good idea to start structuring your questions to get yes or no answers.
Hubspot gives a great example here:
Instead of asking“What are your top priorities right now?” you’d ask, “Would you say one of your top priorities is reducing employee turnover?”
This will give you a short, direct answer and help to navigate the conversation back into your control.
Remind Them of the Initial Agenda
When a prospect is very talkative, chances are they have forgotten the objectives of the call. An effective technique is to remind them of the agenda points that you laid out at the initial start of the call.
This gives more credence to using this technique from the start.
Doing so can help them get back on track because it reminds them of the key goals that you’re both aiming for within the timeframe of the call.
It would go something like:
“Yes that sounds really interesting.”
“Just in the essence of our call today I want to ensure we achieve on-boarding you.
So tell me, what platform is your website built on again?”
Don’t Be Afraid to Interject
Never be afraid to interject if a prospect is talking too much. Remember this comes back to the idea of putting value on your time.
Would a doctor or lawyer interject to get a conversation back on track? Of course they would!
Much like those situations you’re trying to help the prospect so don’t be afraid to do so the same way.
Now it’s important to maintain a high level of politeness about doing this because you don’t want to break rapport with the prospect.
There’s always a competing balance of sounding impatient, but wanting to have control of the conversation, and that’s where the finesse of doing this correctly really comes into play.
“Tom sorry to interrupt but I just noticed the time, we only have 10 minutes left. I know you wanted to explore “XYZ” objectives. Let’s get to that now.
I’d love to finish hearing about your camping trip after, if time permits.”
In this scenario you’re not dismissing the idea that they want to talk about, but you are reminding them you’re here for a reason.
At the end of the day, you want to help them out with their objectives first and foremost.
If you’ve established yourself as someone who puts value on their time and an expert, using this approach won’t be an issue.
After reading this you should see that there are many different strategies you can use to get a talkative prospect back on track in a sales call.
A lot before the conversation even begins.
The preventative measures you can take are often enough to ensure you don’t have to directly interject a conversation. They enable you to maintain complete rapport with the prospect.
A lot of this starts with preparation before the call, so it’s important to learn.
At the end of the day put value on your time. You’re helping these people improve their business – that’s worth a lot.
It doesn’t mean not opening up and talking about information outside of the agenda points of a call, but first and foremost your objective is to provide value.
If you show you’re always trying to help a prospect, you’ll always be able to rein them in when they become talkative.