Cultivating Sales Communication Skills: The 70/30 Rule

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in blog | 0 comments

In this series of short skills exercises, we will focus on very particular communication skills that will significantly enhance your ability to talk to potential clients.


The 70/30 Rule

What do you think?  When you start talking to someone who is showing interest in the services and products you offer, whose speaking is the most important?  You might think that the correct answer is “yours”  because you are the one that can tell the other person about what you offer and “get them more interested,” but you would be wrong!  The most important person speaking is the potential client!

When I was taking a professional sales training back in 1995, I was surprised to learn about the “70/30 rule” from my sales trainer.   The 70/30 rule says that in a conversation with a potential client the potential client should be speaking 70% of the time; you, the sales person, should aim for 30%.  Why is this?  Because you can’t ever convince someone to buy, (stop your efforts right here and now!) people convince themselves and they have less opportunity to do that if YOU are doing all the talking.

If you are doing most of the talking, you are not giving your potential clients the opportunity to tell you: why they expressed interested, what is important to them about the services/products you offer, how would having those products change their life or the life of their family, what could potentially be lost, why is what you help save important to future generations of their family?  You cannot get to all these things without getting the other person to do most of the talking.

EXERCISE:  For the next week, anytime you happen to be in conversation, see if you can meet the 70/30 rule.  For one week, cultivate the art of listening and responding, more than talking.

NOTICE:  what happens when the other person gets the chance to feel heard, listened to, and understood.  Do they open up to you?  Do they come out of superficial “How are you? I’m fine” type conversation?  Do you start seeing the person in a different way than you did before?

IT IS TRUE: that some people will run away with the conversation and totally enjoy the fact that you are not trying to get a foot in the door.  They may never notice that they are doing all the talking. What you learn from this is how to tell the difference between someone who might actually make a good client and someone who really has no interest in anything or anyone but him- or herself. It can be quite interesting, actually, to meet a person who is totally self involved.  And it is a tremendous relief to start to recognize, from the get-go, the kinds of people you don’t want as a client and who you would.

ON THE OTHER HAND: It is also interesting to see if you can get people to go a little deeper than superficial conversation by asking simple, deepening questions based on genuine interest in what they are saying. “What did you make of that?  What did you think about it? Wow! what did you feel when that happened? What are you going to do?”  OR “That sounds important to you. What happens now?”

Because this 70/30 practice is not a “sales” conversations you have nowhere you are trying to go, nothing you are trying to sell, no obvious gain or loss.  You are simply cultivating the art of being a good listener, deepening conversation, and practicing “bringing others out in conversation.”  You will probably find that people start becoming much more interesting to you – and surprisingly, you will become more interesting to them.

Try it!  And if you have something to share about your experience, please come back and leave a comment below!

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