Change in Approach Leads to 304% Increase in Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 09, 2019 @ 06:09 AM


You're famished and someone suggests that you go on a 2-day fast!

You're late, it's a two-hour ride by car to your destination and someone suggests that you walk!

You're exhausted and ready for a nap and someone suggests you should clean out your basement!

You've decided to eat better and lay-off carbs, and someone suggests ordering pizza!

These are all crazy opposites of what you were focused on and they cause you to ask, "whaaat?"

So now you'll understand how I responded when, during a two-day training program, I was asked about messaging for a talk track.

A talk track?  Given that we are trying to get them to take a more consultative approach to selling, shouldn't we be working on a listening track?

Salespeople don't think in terms of listening.  They think like, "OK, I'll ask a few questions so that I can talk about what I know."  There it is - the talk track.  They think they can control the call when they're talking.  They can't.  They think they can lead and direct the prospect.  They can't.  They think that they're selling.  They aren't.

But a listening track - now we're (not) talking! Listening informs our next question.  Listening helps us direct the conversation with our next question.  Listening puts us in control because we're the one asking the questions!

My favorite video for the power of asking questions is this one from the comedian Louis CK.  [note - after 11, 271 views I received an email complaining about my use of a Louis CK video clip to illustrate the power of questions. Louis CK took advantage of women, admitted it and this reader was offended that I used his material.  For this I apologize.  I was not and am not condoning Louis CK's behavior.]



The top 10% of all salespeople are 304% more effective at listening and asking questions than the bottom 10%.  Good salespeople don't need talk tracks.  They use listening tracks to ask great questions.  

How do you get yourself to ask better and better questions?  Leave your comment in the LinkedIn discussion.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, Listening

Talking - 4th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 @ 09:10 AM

Today, as part of my continuing series on the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture, I present:

#4 - You Can Talk - It's Your Mind that Has to Shut Up

I've written about this subject before -Beyond Listening Skills.

For more than 40 years, sales authors, experts and trainers have been telling their readers, subscribers and clients about the importance of talking 30% of the time and listening 70% of the time.  That ratio is not etched in stone.  Even 50/50 is acceptable.  The stage of the sales process dictates the ratio more than the ratio itself. For instance, if your salespeople are following the Baseline Selling process, they would talk 100% in the earliest phase of Getting to 1st Base, and probably 10% in the later phase of Getting to 1st Base.  They would probably talk 10% of the time while Getting to 2nd Base.  They might talk 50% of the time on the way to 3rd Base and 90% of the time when Running Home.

So it's not how much they can talk as much as it's when they can talk.  But more important than whether they talk or not, is whether their minds are active.  When they talk to themselves, several things might be going on in their minds:

  • plan several questions ahead;
  • strategize on the fly;
  • create solutions as they hear problems;
  • qualify in their heads;
  • worry about lack of progress;
  • get excited as they react to progress.

Their active minds will cause them much more trouble than talking too much.  If they are in a talk 10% of the time stage of the sales process and their minds are actively engaged in one of the activities above, they won't hear what their prospects are saying. When that happens they won't be able to ask the right follow up questions.  Instead, they'll ask the next question on their list, an appropriate question to ask at some point, but not as a follow up to what they likely just missed.  This important miss will cause them to be ineffective at going wide and deep, preventing them from uncovering the real problems and identifying the compelling reasons to buy from you.

So what can you do? Send them back to school for the 3 R's.

  • Role Playing
  • Repetition
  • Reinforcement

The 3 R's will help IF they have been taught, shown and demonstrated the proper listening and questioning skills in the first place.  And if they have any of the following weaknesses, the problem might be complicated further:

  • Need for Approval
  • Getting Emotionally Involved
  • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection
  • Being Too Trusting
  • Outlook Problem
  • Excuse Making Problem
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, selling, Sales Force, Listening, emotions

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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