Telling vs. selling is an area that can certainly be taught. There is a very big opportunity in North America for the average sales pro to improve their communication habits and become more of a consultative solver through dialogue, not monologue.
Most people, even if they are trained professional sellers are unaware of the difference between telling and selling. I have some unconventional biases about the profession of sales — such as that it is a very admirable profession (since nothing happens till someone sells something). I am also biased that I´d take a great person with average selling skills over an average person with great selling skills because these skills can be taught and developed.
What is much more difficult to teach are actual traits, such as an empathetic style, an open mind, and strong listening abilities.
Order-takers and those who sell commodities can be successful at telling. They can simply run off facts, figures, features, delivery schedules, and policies.
The rest of us who do want an ongoing client/provider consultative relationship need to find ways to add value in every transaction and conversation.
Here´s how you can evaluate a customer interaction. Next time you meet or speak with a prospective customer, work to really hear what they are asking or saying. Try to read between the lines. Part of being a professional seller is being a bit of a mind reader. You almost need to anticipate what your prospective client will do or say next, based on intuition and what you have learned from them. After the interaction, review what you said and what they said. Did you ask open-ended questions to get them to talk?
Only until you hear the "story behind the story" from the prospective customer´s standpoint will you then know whether or not you have a possible solution for them.