marketing & sales: Listen, Don’t Speak
Most people don't realize the power of silence when negotiating a deal. I recently observed someone discussing a deal with a prospective customer.
The customer described his situation and, after a few moments, he paused. It was an ideal time for the salesperson to make a comment or talk about her product and service. However, she remained silent, sensing that the customer had more to say. Her intuition proved correct—a few seconds later he continued talking about his needs, and when he had finished discussing his point he kept quiet again. The salesperson refrained from speaking and her customer began talking again.
During this last monologue the salesperson learned the exact information that she needed to close the sale without resorting to discounting. If she had spoken during those moments of silence, she still may have closed the sale but not as effectively.
The next time you meet with a client or customer—either face-to-face or over the telephone—bite your tongue. Resist the temptation to talk immediately after they have spoken. Instead, pause for a few moments. Because most people are uncomfortable with silence they will automatically continue talking. This is a very effective recruiting technique and it can be used in the sales process as well.
Here are a few other situations when biting your tongue will benefit you:
1. After you ask a question. I've seen more salespeople answer their own questions instead of holding back and allowing their customers to talk. Let customers tell you what's on their minds and encourage them to give you more information. This is easy to do when you refrain from talking after asking someone a question.
2. Anytime you ask for the sale. When you ask a person to make a financial commitment, you need to give them time to think about their decision and to respond. Too many salespeople talk themselves out of a sale by continuing to talk. On one occasion, a salesperson told me he would give me time to make a decision even though I had told him I wanted his product.