Your Biggest Selling Mistake

Dec. 7, 2009
A person’s biggest selling mistake is overtalking and underlistening. Karen Cortell Reisman explains why the emphasis should be on listening.

by Karen Cortell Reisman, MS

Selling is an exchange of information.

Wherever you are, you’re selling your vision, your vegetable peelers, or yourself. Before you can sell to the next guy, you have to know what he wants, what makes him tick, and what will ease his pain.

I had the honor of being on the selection committee for the new executive director/president of a prominent nonprofit agency in Dallas. The group of eight professionals culled the list down to five worthy finalists. Each candidate exemplified leadership and communication skills, or so I thought.

We interviewed each candidate for two hours and began each session the same way. We introduced ourselves with a two to three minute description of our background. Then the chair of our selection committee said, “Thank you for meeting with us. Why don’t you take this opportunity to tell us a little about yourself.”

We already had their resumes. We knew about their background. That’s why we picked them picked as finalists.

Guess how long they talked when telling “a little” about themselves? Four out of the five spoke for over 45 minutes! Only one spoke for five minutes and then said, “Oh, let me stop talking. What questions do you have?”

A person’s biggest selling mistake is overtalking and underlistening. Our two-hour interviews should have been group conversations, not monologues.

Selling does not equal talking.

For many reasons, we picked the five-minute orator. But the ability to listen and talk — in that order — was a huge bonus in this person’s favor.

Your Dentistry IQ Challenge:
Listen more than you talk.

PS: Happy Holidays to you and yours! As I reflect on this past year I am deeply grateful to you. Thank you for your support of my work and for allowing me to help you continue to communicate, sell, and thrive.

Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, author of two books, speaks about Einstein, her cousin, in a one-woman show, "Letters From Einstein," intertwining personal letters from Einstein in a message about hope, resilience, and brassieres. She also speaks about how to Speak For Yourself® so others listen to you and trust you. Watch Karen "live" at