There is a whole lot that can go wrong during the sales process. If you’ve been in business for a while, you know exactly what I mean.

That’s why the process of closing the deal is so important—once you’ve got a prospect interested and willing to pull out his checkbook, it’s essential that you capitalize. But it’s not always that easy. Whether it is a case of cold feet, a competitor swooping in at the last moment, or a change of heart, there are plenty of factors that can cause a promising prospect to fall through.

Many of these obstacles are outside of your control. One of them, however, is not. Over the years, I have seen plenty of business owners and sales professionals fail to close deals simply because they won’t stop talking!

Many salespeople seem to have been trained from a handbook which reads “the more words you speak, the more likely you are to close.” This approach couldn’t be more backwards. The truth is that, in an ideal world, it will be your prospect doing most of the talking! They’ll describe their problem, their frustrations, and their need for help. You or your sales rep must simply explain to the prospect exactly why and how your product or service will meet their stated needs.

What typically happens instead is that the salesperson goes on and on about the product or service, rattling off a list of features and benefits that sounds impressive, but often doesn’t address the needs of the prospect. And the reality is that 20 seconds of focused, relevant information is infinitely more valuable than 10 minutes of facts and information that don’t matter to the prospect.

So here’s what I’m suggesting that you and your sales team do: shut up! At least, until you’ve gotten the information you need from a prospect in order to tailor your sales pitch to their situation. Find out what problem they are looking for you to solve. Find out if they’ve tried other solutions and if so, why they didn’t work. It may be hard, at first, to avoid talking more than you need to. But over time, you’ll learn the discipline. And the result will be that you’ll spend less time on the phone, while closing more sales.