Who doesn’t remember Seinfeld, the wacky “show about nothing?” In the episode noted above, a newly-minted phrase became famous when Marcy, George’s new girlfriend, talks with George and Jerry Seinfeld, and the conversation goes like this:
MARCY: You know, a friend of mine thought she got Legionnaire’s Disease in the hot tub.
GEORGE: Really? What happened?
MARCY: Oh, yada-yada-yada, just some bad egg salad. I’ll be right back. (She gets up)
JERRY: I noticed she’s big on the phrase “yada-yada.”
GEORGE: Is “yada-yada” bad?
JERRY: No, “yada-yada” is good. She’s very succinct.
GEORGE: She is succinct.
JERRY: Yeah, it’s like you’re dating USA Today.
As the episode proceeds, almost all the characters start using “yada-yada-yada,” which came to be known as Seinlanguage and is just a way to gloss over and shorten descriptions of things. It is much like people using “et cetera, et cetera” or “blah-blah-blah” or “and so on, and so forth.” This drivel.
After thinking back to the banter from that sitcom for a few seconds, I hope you agree how ridiculous it would be for you to come across sounding like those characters as you conduct sales calls. To avoid running the risk of being an unpaid entertainer, I want to warn you against dominating selling conversations, like those Seinfeld characters habitually did, so listen to these statistics.
If you were to randomly drop in on a typical sales call, 80% of the time the sales rep would be talking, which is four out of every five minutes that buyers and sellers are together. That’s a horrible statistic, but what’s worse is the fact that 80% of the 80% the rep is making statements rather than asking questions.
If that’s not scary enough, 80% of those statements aren’t related to the buyer’s needs, but rather to the features and benefits of what is being sold, whether the buyer wants to hear them or not!
This means that if your prospect/buyer grants you a thirty-minute appointment, the time would be spent as follows:
- The salesperson would talk for about 24 minutes.
- About 19 minutes of the 24 would be statements and not questions to the buyer.
- About 15 minutes of the 19 would be unrelated to the buyer’s needs.
- The buyer would have the remaining 6 minutes to voice needs and/or answer questions.
It should come as no secret that it’s impossible to talk and listen at the same time. Consequently, when you are the one talking, you’re not learning. So if you are one of the 80%’ers, it’s time to have an altar call and alter how you conduct your sales appointments, before you become a selling casualty.
You probably wonder why sales reps talk so much; especially since it costs you and your company so many lost sales. A group of sellers was surveyed with that very question and here are the top five answers they provided:
- “I was hired to tell them about what I’m selling.” – This seems to be based on the assumption that every buyer actually needs your offering, and non-stop yammering makes that point. If that were true, why not just send a recorded sales pitch to buyers and eliminate the sales force?
- “The buyer usually wants me to do the talking.” – This is a great excuse for not probing to determine buyers thinking, needs, and wants, and don’t think for a minute they really want to listen to you drone on and dominate 80% of the conversation.
- “I feel more comfortable when I’m in control.” – Folks, talking has no correlation with control, but many sales reps continue to believe this fantasy.
- “At times, I’m scared to hear their answers.” – I’m having a flashback to the Emperor’s New Clothes story my mom used to read me as a child. You avoid questions because you are afraid you might not like the answers and just live in a dream world of thinking you are smartly dressed, when in actuality you are sitting across from your buyer in your boxers or briefs!
- “Talking requires less planning.” – Of course it takes less time to parrot a bunch of features and benefits than to customize a list of questions that will lead to uncovering needs and opportunities. Who said this selling thing was going to be easy in the first place?
Now you should better be able to understand “Yada, yada, yada.” You would be wise to retool your ground game and spend the lion’s share of your face time asking questions and listening to buyers. You wouldn’t need as much time to discuss your offering, because your diagnosis would reveal what is relevant to the prospect, and you could then focus your time and effort there.
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