How to sell like a boss: Keep it short

by Steli Efti

CEOs are in a better position to close a deal: they have a lot of experience, a deep industry background, they have more decision making power and a better understanding of the overall business. But one of the main reasons why CEOs are often brought in to seal a deal is just magical branding bullshit.

The CEO has a high status, and everybody likes to deal with high status people. That aura of importance can make a real difference in how people perceive you and your offer.

The good news is, you don't actually need to be a CEO to benefit from this effect.

Here's a simple hack to sell more CEO-like, without pretending to be something you're not: shorten your sales conversations. 

Simply open your sales call as follows: "Hey John, I'm super excited about the call today. I want to be respectful of your time, and I have another call in exactly thirty minutes. I think that's going to be plenty of time for us to accomplish everything we need, so let's get down to it. Let's talk about the objections and the questions that you guys have, and really move this forward."

Simple as that, but it sets the tone for the entire dialogue.

Why should you keep your sales conversations short?

  • By defining a clear time limit at the beginning of a sales conversation, you demonstrate that you're busy. Why does being busy matter? Because people equate being busy with being important and successful.
  • It gives the whole conversation a focused energy and clear direction.
  • It creates urgency in the conversation to move things forward.

Why some salespeople like lots of talking

If you go into your sales conversations as if time is not an issue, you'll create the impression that you're weak and unimportant, and that your time has no value. Yet, some sales reps believe they should engage in long small talk. Why is that?

  • Because they think it's a more natural way to have a conversation.
  • They confuse meaningless small-talk with building rapport. If you're good at building rapport, you don't need an eternity to build it, you do it quick. If you need twenty minutes of small talk to build rapport, you suck at building rapport.
  • They assume that the more they talk, the higher the chance that the prospect is going to buy.
Needless to say, all these assumptions are misguided. Sales is about selling, and that's what you should focus on.

How to interrupt prospects who love hearing themselves speak?

Some prospects keep on talking and talking about everything under the sun. Many salespeople will just let the person speak, lending them their ear, secretly hoping this will create enough goodwill and sympathy to help them close the deal. Wrong. Interrupt them to bring the conversation back on track. That will only make them respect you more. 

Here's what you say: "Hey John, let me interrupt you real quick, John, I respect your time immensely, I know that we only have another ten minutes on this call, I want to make sure that we cover all the important things. I know that we said that A, B and C is really crucial to you. Is there anything we're missing? Let's make sure that we cover every little point to make sure that we're really going to deliver the biggest value, and make this a tremendously successful deal for you. So let's focus, what are the core things that are really important to do?"

You're being polite, but determined. Use friendly strength to take charge of the conversation, and give it a clear direction. Prospects appreciate that, especially if you make it all about them. 

Be your own sales CEO

Long-winded conversations where you talk about everything between heaven and earth really defeat the purpose of sales. If you're not creating value for the buyer and your own company, you're just wasting time. 

Whether you're an entry-level sales rep or VP of sales, be the CEO of your sales conversations.