How to handle a chatterbox client

We've all met people who talk and talk, and talk some more. You politely wait for a pause so you can get a word in, but it never comes. They can somehow continue pouring out their stream of chatter, without taking a breath. If you want to close the sale and move on to your next appointment, you have to stop it, or at least steer the conversation back on course.

Talks too much

Talkers aren't bad people - more likely they're just lonely and don't have many people to talk with, or they may not even realize they're turning a conversation into a never-ending life story. It can still make for an awkward and unproductive meeting - one that shold last an hour, but stretches to two or more if you don't reel it in.

So what do I do?

This article on Lifehacker suggests a few options:

Cut them off early

Ask them pertinent questions, and keep steering them toward the answers you need. Don't let them build momentum in their stories - keep jumping in with questions.

Interrupt politely

That opening in their monologue may never come, so you may need to just jump in and talk over them for a moment. Chances are they are already used to this happening.

Place a time limit on the conversation

Tell them up front that you only have 30 minutes or an hour, and remind them that you have several things to go over before you leave. If you can't get a word in, be prepared to just get up and leave.

I've summarized quite a bit here, but for more information, see: How to Deal with Someone Who Constantly Rambles (Lifehacker)

In the end, it all comes down to experience. Each experience with a talker is a learning opportunity for you. Be sure to take a moment after the meeting and think about what you could do better next time. It may be a judgement call: if a client seems interested in what you're selling, it may be worth putting up with some extra rambling. If they are more interested in having someone to listen to them, it may be best to get out of there fast.

What are some of your techniques for handling a Chatty Cathy? Let me know in the comments below.


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