A former asshole boss of mine pointed out a HUGE mistake, that was preventing me from meeting my sales goals.

Of course he didn’t spare my feelings by presenting it delicately. I’m thrilled he didn’t, as I may not have heard him so clearly.

After a ride-along (something sales managers do in the pharmaceutical industry), my boss turned to me in the parking lot and said, “when all you do is talk, there is no way you are learning anything about your customer….plus it’s overwhelming and annoying.” ???.

My lord, I felt so deflated, embarrassed, and stupid. I immediately understood his point, I just needed some time to soothe my broken ego.

It’s funny because as a TV journalist, I did little talking as my job was to ask questions and get the subject to talk. When I changed careers in to sales, for some reason I thought I was to do most of the talking. So I went back into my reporter mode, and the results were amazing.

My customers (all well-known doctors), became my friends, confided in me, shared their frustrations and needs. All because I shut the hell up, and allowed them the space to share. Plus I felt less exhausted as the end of the day. Doing all the taking, all the time is draining AF.

After my boss word-smacked me, I exceeded every sales goal to this very day.

Start asking your potential customers and current clients open ended questions. Not yes and no questions. Ask them: “how can I best meet your needs?” “What resources and materials do you value the most?” “What problem in your life, would you be thrilled to have solved?”

Then shut the hell up and allow them to answer. Even if there’s a looooong pause (these use to be so painful for me).