If you’re talking in more than nine second soundbites, you’re wasting your words, losing the attention of buyers, and positioning yourself as just another long-winded person trying to make your case. From soundbites on broadcast news to politicians delivering provocative statements to posts on Twitter, we’ve become a society that consumes information in smaller and smaller chunks. According to research at the University of California, the incredible shrinking soundbite has gone from 43 seconds in 1968 to a mere nine seconds today. As a result, when you communicate, especially when selling, you need to choose your words carefully while delivering them with impact, passion, and enthusiasm. Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re an outgoing person whose default factory programming as a human being is to share your gift for gab.
In many instances, less is more and this is certainly the case when you commit to being masterful in conversation. This starts with a belief that what the customer has to say is always much more important than anything you have to add to the conversation. When you speak, your questions must be provocative enough to evoke a thoughtful and detailed response, and when it’s time for you to comment, it’s at these moments that being a “soundbiter” will have listeners hanging on to your every word, wanting to understand and retain the valuable things you have to say.
Becoming an effective soundbiter begins with three simple steps:
1. Listen to how people communicate in person, on the telephone, and via television and radio. Pay particular attention to those that capture your attention while keeping their comments brief, noticing how they convey their ideas through their selection of words and use of volume, tone, and inflection.
2. Conduct a personal debrief after conversations you have with others. Pick statements you made during the conversation and develop alternative ways you could have made your remarks in more of a provocative soundbite fashion.
For example, in response to a prospect saying they’ve had bad experiences in the past when working with companies like yours, the long-winded response could be:
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I often hear this about our competitors. It’s unfortunate that they give our industry a bad name and a tarnished reputation. I know as a consumer myself that these kinds of previous experiences make me incredibly hesitant to go down that path again. I’m sure if you give us a try you’ll find that we do things differently and, as a result, you’ll change your opinion about the value you can receive.”
The soundbite alternative becomes:
“That’s exactly why you should work with us. Three of our recent new customers had the same complaint and have volunteered to provide references as to how we are different and better than other providers.”
3. Strive for progress, not perfection, by using select conversations as an opportunity to practice saying more with less words. Personal conversations are a safe and easy place to start.