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Vows of Silence

Trappist Monks take a Vow of Silence.  They believe that it clears their minds for the purer contemplation of God.

I’m not suggesting we become Trappist Monks but I am suggesting that we vow to use silence more in our selling. The general rule of listening and talking is the customer talks seventy percent of the time.  If we hear ourselves talking for more than three-four sentences in a row, an alarm should go off – ASK A QUESTION! (The person asking the questions controls the call!)

Silence is best:

At the end of our customers sentences. Customers often give us a thought, pause a little, and then give us more details about that thought.  When we give our customers time and room to breathe, think, and talk they will offer us more. If we jump on the end of their sentences, we miss valuable information.  Often a customer gives an objection and then overcomes it on their own, if we let them.

Customer: “This market is too high, I can’t buy right now.”

(The rookie rushes in and begins to tell the customer why the market is going up.)

Master seller: …………….. (silence)

Customer: “…but my inventory is so low I can’t afford to wait, what have you got on 2×4 for quick?”

When asking for the order.  We ask for the order and SHUT UP.  In poker it’s called “trailing your bet” when we push out chips and then try to bet more.  It is illegal in poker and should be illegal in sales. When we talk after we ask for the order, we destroy the “Moment of Close”.  We interrupt our customer’s thoughts.  This is rude, unsettling to our customer and will not lead to sales.  It is our customer’s turn to speak. Let them have their turn!

In trouble calls. Next time we are in a sales situation that is not going well, let’s take control of the conversation by saying,

“Mr. customer, I understand what you are saying, but let me tell you why you should buy this from me.”

Then, pause and enjoy the silence.  Customer will stop and listen.  The silent pause is key.  If we rush our explanation, we seem to be “fast-talking” our customers.  When we speak too quickly our customers think, “Why is he talking so fast, is he trying to hide something?”  Silence shows confidence.  The pause and silence set the correct tone: I am going to say something important.  (What we say next is important, so we prepare our value statements and Close – Ask for the order.)

In Negotiation. Many objections are not objections but “Tests of Confidence”. We must know the difference. If a customer gives us an objection before the moment of Close it may be just a “Test of Confidence”, silence is our best option.

Recently, I was selling to a customer.  In three of the pre-Closing calls the customer mentioned he was interested in training, but the price was too high.  Sensing we were not in a Closing call – the customer wasn’t ready to buy – I said, “I hear your price objection, we will cover that when the time comes”.  In another call he said, “I want your training but it’s twice as high as I was thinking of paying.”  At the same time he was telling me he didn’t have time to talk, (but did have time to tell me my price was too high – interesting, right?) so I sensed again that we were not in a Closing call.  “When can I have sixty minutes so we can have a serious discussion about sales training?” (By asking the question we control time and agenda.)  “Next Monday at 7:30”, he said.  In our Closing conversation, we did discuss price, but I had prepared my value arguments and was ready to defend my price, which in the end I got.

Ignoring or not directly addressing customer concerns is delicate, intuitive work.  In general, if a customer mentions an objection once and sends cross-signals (I want to buy –  The price is too high.) We use silence.  If a customer mentions something twice or more, we address it directly.

Silence is our friend when selling – Let’s vow to use it.

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