Selling with Silence

I enjoy a good conversation as much as the next guy or gal.  A highly engaging and thoughtful conversation where both sides are equally sharing their ideas, and feelings is something to value.  Likewise, I also enjoy the comfort of being with people I care about and not feeling like I have to say a word.  I’m comfortable with silence.

Being comfortable with silence is a skill.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, like any skill, silence needs to be practiced in order to be effective.  It requires trust, honesty, and perhaps most importantly confidence.

Sales people by nature are talkers.  In fact, sales people often have a reputation of being slick talkers.  Talk fast enough that you over-power, or blow past the buyer’s objections, tough questions, or key concerns.  However, a fast talking sales person is actually communicating the wrong message.  Buyers get turned off by fast talkers.  They become suspicious.  They become guarded in their responses, and many times they tune out, and walk away.

Great sales professionals understand the power of silence.  The power that comes with feeling confident in your message, your answers, your position, your knowledge.  Knowing when to be silent, versus when to speak, is a critical skill all sales people should develop, assuming they want to improve their win rates.

The buyer asks a question, the sales person responds, and then silence.  You’re almost begging the buyer to challenge you.  Your silence is a display of your confidence and conviction.  It also shows the buyer a level of patience and empathy by giving them time to absorb your response and determine their next step.  You’re putting the control in the buyer’s hands.  And while some may argue that the sales person should maintain control, I’d argue that by granting the buyer some control, the sales person is actually increasing his/her control of the sales and buying process.

Silence can be the ultimate neutralizer.  High stakes negotiators recognize the strategic benefit of using silence.  Yet keep in mind, that using silence as a tactic requires a great deal of preparation.  You need to understand your company, your product, your position, and your buyer.  Drop the ball on any one of those and the value of silence is diminished.

Next time you engage in a sales conversation, force yourself to be silent.  Can you do it?  Can you sell with silence?


3 Ways to a Strong Sales Finish


With 75 days left in the calendar year many salespeople find themselves in a crunch.  Either a crunch to hit that next multiplier level for bonus money, or a crunch to simply get as close to plan as possible.  Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum here are 3 things every sales pro should be doing right now:

  1. 70/30 split.  At least 70% of your time should be spent with your current customers.  You should be focused on understanding their business, providing value by educating them on possible solutions for their needs, and listening for trends, concerns, ideas, etc.
  2. Ask for the business.  The closest thing to a silver bullet in Sales is asking for the business.  Sure, you need to have earned the right to ask, but let’s assume you have.  Too often sales people assume that if the customer had more business they would have already given it to them.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!  It’s not their job to give you anything.  It’s your job to earn it, ask for it, and then deliver it in a way that makes you both memorable and remarkable.
  3. Be disciplined.  There’s no such thing as a 9 – 5 sales job.  If those are the hours you’re working you’re simply not doing enough.  Oh…you’re already at quota working 9 – 5?  Then I’d ask how much more you could have sold if you kicked it up a few notches?  It’s time to push.  Even if you’re at quota now a new sales year is right around the corner.  Plan your days.  Have your call list ready the night before.  Don’t waste precious selling time getting ready.  When you’re standing at the starting line it’s too late to train for the race.

Be sure you’re confronting reality.  If you’ve missed plan this year take an inventory of where things went wrong.  Be honest.  At the end of the day if you’re over plan it’s because of you and if you’re under plan the reason is the same…you.  You may be more expensive, of lesser quality, or longer to fulfill.  Regardless, you own finding a new path.  Once you accept accountability the path becomes much clearer.

Be calm.  Sell on.