I recently wrote a post about knowing when to stop selling….recognize when we see the “yes,” then stop and close the deal.
Similar to that is to know when to stop talking…embrace the silence. Use it as a power position - or, at least, a prompt position.
Silence is uncomfortable. If you ask a question, and your client does not answer it, it’s awkward. We all want to jump in and either clarify the question, ask it in a different way, or move on completely.
RESIST THE URGE.
EMBRACE THE PREGNANT PAUSE.
The Pregnant Pause is a sales weapon that takes practice and discipline, but when mastered has a tremendous success rate at getting deeper knowledge, thus advancing the sale.
The technique is complicated, so bear with me as I try to sum it up into a concise lesson. Here goes:
Ask a question, and wait for the answer.
Seems easy, right? It’s not. Silence is terrifying and uncomfortable. But as uncomfortable as it is for you, it’s also awkward for your client in the room. They want the silence to end as much as you do.
Or, maybe they’re just pondering the question. And if you jump in to save yourself from the discomfort, the client’s pondering stops, and you don’t get you answer.
The pause itself is pregnant because it bears within it the keys to the kingdom of knowledge, and knowledge is the key to everything (closing the deal, implementing a successful campaign, understanding your offering’s perceived service gap).
I used this technique recently in a presentation at an agency to a group of people. I’d asked a question about what metrics they use to determine whether a campaign was a success. I got quick answers back like, “We look at impressions, word of mouth, etc”
I asked a deeper question, “But what metrics, exactly, are you using to capture impressions and word of mouth, and how do you assign value to those metrics, and what, exactly, means it was a success or failure?”
For what seemed like an eternity, we sat in silence for the better part of 30 seconds. (Try to sit in silence for 30 seconds in a meeting room of 12 people. I dare you to tell me it’s NOT uncomfortable. AWKWARD!)
Maybe they were pondering the question. Maybe they didn’t know. But what I found out is they’d never thought about it….they really had no idea.
Why was this critical? Because I was about to embark on a campaign with this agency on behalf of its client, and nobody knew what the goals of the campaign REALLY were. And that leaves the door open for post-campaign wishy-washy stuff, and nobody likes to be evaluated on wishy-washy stuff. We then refocused the meeting and agreed on terms of success, which altered the focus of the campaign. Now, I could implement something successful, deemed valuable by the client.
If I’d moved on from their silence without the awkward pause, we never would’ve reached the Ah-Ha! moment that allowed us to set true campaign goals and metrics.
The phase “Silence is golden” isn’t just meant for toddlers during a long car ride.
It’s meant for all of us, from time to time. (Don’t ask my constituents if I always embrace silence…I’m a work in progress, too!)