Phil Kriendler, owner of a multi-million dollar sales consulting business, says this is how the sales process works in reality:

Salespeople do 70% of the talking. The first opportunity they have, they go on and on about the features and benefits their company offers.

Of course, when asked, salespeople always say they spend 80% of their time listening and 20% talking.

That’s because they know what they’re supposed to say.

And the reason they don’t spend more of their time listening is they don’t understand the prospect’s problem.

So that’s how the sales process works in reality for most salespeople – even though you know it should be the opposite.

How Do You Shift Your Sales Team’s Focus Back to 80% Listening, 20% Talking?

For starters, gather evidence to see what’s really going on at your company. Record calls and have your sales managers listen to them.

Don’t talk to your employees about their “bad sales skills.” Just observe and get an accurate reading of the typical experience your prospects get.

Work with Your Sales Team to Prepare A Central Question Bank

Ultimately, the success of your sales team is on your employees. But as their employer, it’s up to you to give them the tools and processes they need to succeed. That creates a win-win situation for you and your employees.

It’s up to their professional judgement to learn which questions to ask, when, and why. But you can get them started going in the right direction.

Create a central question bank with your enterprise social network. Use Google Drive and give everyone access if you’re a small business. Create one in Salesforce if you’re larger.

Make it up to your employees to choose which questions to use. Remind them they cannot pitch your solution until they have a crystal clear understanding of your prospect’s problem.

Do You Have a Clear Vision of Your Ideal Prospect?

Another possible reason your sales staff spends all their time talking is they feel they have to “impress” the prospect. Of course, you know that doesn’t work. Because if you’re reading this, your sales numbers probably aren’t what you hoped.

Not having an ideal prospect in mind and knowing how to talk to them easily leads to diarrhea of the mouth.

If you have a good prospecting system down, your sales team should feel like they’re talking to people with similar pain points, concerns, and goals. They shouldn’t have to do much guessing as to what’s going on in the prospect’s mind.

So you should know the position(s) you need to talk to, the size of company they come from, the industry, and possibly their geographic location.

Work with Each Sales Team Member Individually

Everyone needs a coach. A guide. A mentor. You have to go beyond discussions of “not meeting quota.”

You have to get intimate knowledge of what each sales team member does. And then go through the major steps where you think they can improve.

Fix all those problems and it’s only a matter of time before you see your sales numbers grow.