Everyone in sales knows that you're supposed to listen more than you talk,but it's not as easy as it sounds. First of all, customers ask questions, andsome of their questions call for long answers. And then many customers will justlet the conversation die if you don't keep it going.

Here are some things I do to help customers talk more than I do:

  • Ask more open-ended questions than closed-ended. If you ask someone when she needs to receive the first delivery, she might just answer: "June 1." Ask the same person: "Tell me about your delivery requirements," and you'll get a longer answer.

  • Ask follow-up questions. If you do ask a question and get a short answer like "June 1," respond with: "And what additional deliveries might you need in the future?"

  • When the conversation dries up, ask about something that came up previously: "Earlier you mentioned that you were concerned about breakage. What are you doing now to minimize breakage?"

  • After you say something, pause and don't break the silence with your own words. The customer will fill the void.

Once you use techniques like these to get customers talking freely, they willloosen up and begin to talk more without your prompting.

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