There’s a saying in our business.

Sales people talk too much. Poor sales people talk even more. And failed sales people – well – they talk themselves straight into different careers.

We call one of our most popular sales effectiveness workshops “Shut Up and Sell!”

Simply put, it’s about getting yourself out of your own way to success.

It’s about listening more and talking less in your conversations with prospects and customers.

It’s about being interested and not just interesting.

And most importantly, Shut Up and Sell! is about asking relevant questions to lead customer conversations in the right direction (without leading the witness, so to speak).

We don’t point fingers in our workshop – that’s not who we are. We recognize it’s often hard to gain perspective on the behaviors that drive or limit us.

You can argue that talking too much is ingrained in our culture. And I don’t mean just in our sales culture but in “The National Culture of the United States.” Bear with me for a moment because this is about gaining perspective on why we act as we do.

If you’re familiar with the pioneering work of social psychologist Geert Hofstede, you know all about his theory of cultural dimensions.

Hofstede’s theory – introduced in the 1970s based on his work at IBM and refined over the years – describes national cultures along six dimensions:

  • Power Distance
  • Individualism v. Collectivism
  • Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Masculinity v. Femininity
  • Long Term Orientation (or Pragmatism)
  • Indulgence v. Restraint

The framework has been used for many years to plot national cultures along those dimensions.

And it’s been helpful for guiding governments, organizations, businesses, sales people, and individuals in cross-cultural communications.

It provides insight into big questions like: “Why don’t they just get it? And why don’t they get me?” And more importantly, it helps negotiators and others craft communication strategies that build bridges.

One example of the Hofstede cultural framework plots the US and China in the Individualism/Collectivism dimension.

The US is near the top of the scale in “I,” whereas China is near the bottom, which makes it more of a “We” culture.

That begins to explain why “I did it my way” resonates in the individualistic US and the West. Less so in collectivist cultures found in China and the East, which favor harmony and groups.

So back to “Shut and Sell!”

In our US culture, you could argue it’s natural for us in sales to focus on the “I.” Sales people indeed are the “I” in selling – and that’s OK. Or is it?

Once we gain perspective, in “Shut and Sell!” we teach you that it’s not about you. It’s about the customer.

Your customers have wants, needs and desires, and you have products and services developed to solve those wants, needs, desires. And the art of gaining and retaining customers is about finding the sweet spot between what they need and what you have.

Being Great isn’t about selling yourself. True differentiation in your skills comes from gaining perspective, from being interested, not interesting. And everyday greatness is about finding that sweet spot between your products and your customers.

And isn’t it curious that Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters?