Silence is Money

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Silence Is Money

This article is an excerpt from my Wall Street Journal bestseller, Selling Boldly:

Want to know the most underutilized technique in sales? Silence.

That’s right.

Not talking is a rare commodity in the sales profession.

In fact, salespeople are constantly talking to your customers.

Here’s What I Mean by Silence

Silence is:

  • Asking for a referral and waiting for the answer.
  • Asking for a testimonial and waiting until the customer answers.
  • Asking for the business and not speaking until the customer responds.

Silence means not filling the pauses with your nervous chatter.

Too much money is lost when you fill the pauses with nervous chatter.

Why We Are Not Silent

Why do we talk into the silences?

Because we are nervous.

We don’t “do” silence because we think the customer is unhappy, or uncomfortable when he is quiet. In actuality, he is merely thinking, and when we jump into that pause, we interrupt his decision-making.

Let your customer think and consider your question. Let them answer.

Then, you go.

How to Be Silent

Here are two ways to use silence to your advantage.

Ask a Question and Then WAIT

Here is how to be silent: Ask a direct selling question—like the did you know question or the reverse did you know the question or a closing question—and then stop. And wait.

If you are together with the customer, just look at them, and blink. Breathe. Be confident and comfortable.

Count to 100 if you must. Sing a song in your head.

(When my kids were younger, I’d have them sing their ABCs while they washed their hands with soap. Otherwise, they’d just touch the water with their fingertips and then turn off the water.)

Do what you have to do to not talk first!

During Conversation

The other powerful use of silence is within a conversation, during the back and forth.

When the other person finishes up what they’re saying, don’t start talking right away. Wait for two beats. If they don’t say anything else, then you start.

You will find that the other person may jump back into that silence with something you wouldn’t have even known to ask about.

Many times during my testimonial calls with the customers of my clients, there are long pauses because I take notes while the other person speaks. And because they talk faster than I can type, I am frequently catching up with what they are saying. So, as I type, I simply say,

“Catching up,” and the other person almost always says, “No problem” or “Take your time.”

But then, in approximately half of these pauses—which is multiple times per phone call!—the customer jumps back into the silence and volunteers information I would have had no idea to ask about. Something like: “And then there was the time he got in his car and drove the product over here. How amazing is that?!” There’s no way I could have inquired about this if the customer did not bring it up.

It works the same in conversation.

The customer might say, “Well, we’ve got that project at the school that you know about already.”

You: One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two . . .

Customer: “But we ran into a problem that you might be able to help us with …”

That’s how this works.

Don’t be the person who starts talking before the customer finishes their sentence.

You will find many people communicate this way. They can’t wait to tell you their piece.

That’s insecurity and discomfort coming through in their portion of the conversation.

I find this with about one-third of the people I talk to.

That’s okay.

I still pause before taking my turn in the conversation.

And they think of additional things to say during the silences that are often of high value to me.

Use silence to help the other person think of new things to share with you.

Silence is rare.

Silence is a sign of confidence.

Silence is a feature of an advanced and outstanding salesperson. Use silence.

Because silence is money.

Get your copy of the book from which this article is excerpted — Selling Boldly — on Amazon for just $12 here

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About Alex

My clients add 10 to 20% annually to their sales -- every year -- by taking simple action repeatedly and systematically. My clients are manufacturers, distributors and service companies in mature industries like lumber, pipes and valves, chemicals, and steel. If you would like to add 10-20% to your sales quickly and easily, call me directly at 847-459-6322.