Before Saying Anything …

May 1, 2012
Here are some sales truths.

Here are some sales truths.

We talk ourselves out of more sales than we talk ourselves into.

Every word that comes out of your mouth is nothing more than an opportunity to get into trouble.

The less you talk, the more you sell. The more you talk, the less you sell.

You don’t talk people into buying; you listen them into buying.

You were given two ears and one mouth — use them in that proportion.

How much should you say during a call? Only enough to make the sale.

Before saying anything, I ask myself five questions:

1. Who cares?
Have you ever caught yourself talking just to hear the sound of your own voice?

Years ago, I remember spending more than an hour trying to figure out how to get a married couple a better night’s sleep by adding more return air to their second-floor master bedroom, until I realized I was the only person in the house who cared. I stood there and made up my mind right on the spot that, from that point forward before saying anything I would ask myself, “Who cares?” If the answer was, “No one but me,” I didn’t say it.

2. Can I make the sale without saying it?
Probably, yes.

How do you find out whether or not you can make the sale without saying something? It’s not a trick question. The answer is that you try to close without saying it. If the customer buys, the answer is yes, you can close the sale without saying it. If the customer doesn’t buy, the answer is no, and you need to say it.

You can always say more, but once something is said, you can’t say less. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

When you give people the opportunity to make a decision, and they do anything other than buy, no matter what they say to you, they’re telling you that you have not yet given them enough reasons to make a buying decision.

That’s especially true in my case, because I tell them very little, and then give them a chance to make a decision. If they don’t buy, I give them more information, and another chance to make a buying decision.

That’s the key to being able to make multiple closing attempts without being obnoxious or a high-pressure salesman. If you say everything you’ve got to say about a given product or service, then give them an opportunity to buy, if they don’t buy, what’s left for you to do? Repeat yourself? That’s annoying. Try another “technique?” That’s annoying.

When you’ve told them very little, and they don’t buy, you can provide new and interesting information about the product or service. In my case, I don’t even tell them the best things first. When I start adding benefits and painting a rosy word picture about how great their lives will be once they have my product or service, I look for buying signs, like head nodding, verbal agreement or pupil dilation.

Frequently, they’ll say, “I didn’t know that,” or “Oh, why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?” When they do, I can say something like, “Based on this new information, is this something you’d like to go ahead with?”

3. Will this make them feel good about buying from me?
My job as a salesman is to make people feel good about buying from me. If what you’re thinking of saying won’t cause them to have a good feeling about owning your product or service, don’t say it. You can probably make the sale without saying it, and if it won’t give them a good feeling, saying it will be the very thing that stands in your way of making the sale.

4. Is this something the person wanting to spend the least amount of money can relate to?
I remember calling to confirm an appointment with someone who wanted to make sure I knew before I even got there that he’d only bought the home to renovate and sell; that he was never going to live there himself; and wasn’t even remotely interested in quality, efficiency, or warranty. He just wanted to add air conditioning at the lowest possible cost so he could tell potential buyers it had central air conditioning.

During the drive over, I told myself to make sure every word that came out of my mouth was something the person wanting to spend the least amount of money could relate to. I sold him on the first call.

On the drive home I told myself that that was how I’d handle everyone like him from then on, then it occurred to me that I could, and should, handle every call that way, whether or not they told me the initial investment was a big concern, and my closing ratio went up.

5. How can I convert this statement into a question?
Did you know that you can convey as much information by asking questions as you can by making statements?

Why convert questions to statements?

Do people ever tune you out or daydream when you’re trying to explain things to them?

Don’t questions keep them more involved in the conversation? Would you say that’s important?

Asking these five questions might slow you down, but is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Have you ever heard of a slick, fast-talkin’ salesman? You might be perceived as one of those, even though that’s not how you see yourself.

When people get excited or nervous they tend to talk quicker and the pitch of their voice rises. It happens to all of us and it doesn’t sound right. You’re supposed to be coming across as quietly confident.

Be acutely aware of your tone of voice and the rate at which you speak. Force yourself to speak slower and with a lower tone of voice. Also, make sure you pronounce well. People often cut off the ends of words when they speak, and it makes it difficult for them to buy from you when they can’t understand you.

A salesperson’s two best friends are questions and silence. Most salespeople don’t use either of them very much. When you take my advice and ask yourself these five questions prior to saying anything, there will be about a five-second period of silence when it’s your turn to talk.

That’s where the magic happens.

During that brief period of silence, people will say, “You’re thinking about your answer. That’s good.”

My challenge to you is for you to see how little you can say and still make the sale. You’ll find you’ll make more sales in less time.

Charlie Greer is the creator of “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD,” and “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD.” For information on all Charlie’s audio-visual products, visit his newly designed website,, or call Charlie at 800/963-HVAC (4822). Email Charlie at [email protected].