If you follow The 90–10–90 Rule, ideally when you’re talking with a prospect the prospect is speaking 90 percent of the time. Of the 10 percent of the time that you, the salesperson, are speaking, you should be spending 90 percent of that time asking questions.
How much time does that leave for you to tell your story or deliver your “value proposition”? If you’re only speaking 10 percent of the time when you’re with the prospect, and spending 90 percent of that 10 percent asking questions, that leaves you exactly one percent of the time you’re with your prospect to be telling your story!
The exception to The 90–10–90 Rule is that you can speak as long as you want to, if you are answering questions your prospect posed.
Be careful, though. You must be responding to questions your prospect asked, not questions you thought that he should ask, or that you thought he’d want to know, or that you thought were pertinent. Talk as long as you want, but only when answering the questions he asked. If he’s not asking, you should not be talking, you should be asking more questions.
If you’re dying to talk about something else, the most you can do is inquire (that means it must be in the form of a question):
“Mr. Smith, I was just thinking that the warranty on something like this is important. Would you want to talk about that for a minute?”
“Mary, talking about the audit reminds me that we should talk about taxes, too. Shall we take a moment here on the subject of the taxes you’re paying?”
If the prospect says he would like to talk about whatever you’ve brought up, you get to talk about it. Otherwise, move on and ask your next question.