When LESS is MORE: How Silence Is A Powerful Sales Weapon

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Post by BlogPaws CEO Yvonne DiVita

Demystifying Social Media 4 Business-cover“We offer complete blog design and development,” we told the new business owner across the table from us. We smiled and waited for her to respond.

It was eight in the morning on a sunny summer day. We were seated in a bustling coffee shop near our offices. Yes, at that time, we had offices. Our new client was sipping her espresso while she gazed searchingly at our faces.

Tom and I had evolved our publishing business to include blogging services as the creators of Demystifying Social Media for Business. We were seeing much success blogging (indeed, I was invited to speak at a national conference because of my Lipsticking blog, and it generated a lot of attention online, bringing us business for our publishing focus), and we wanted to share that with other small business owners. Our Demystifying Social Media for Business involved a day of training. As Tom loved to say, “First we teach you why to blog, and then we teach you how to blog.”

“I’m not sure about this blogging thing,” the client said with a sigh. “Phillip, my partner, mentioned it and said it could help jump-start my business, but it sounds so overwhelming!”

“We know,” we sympathized with her.

“Do you have a newsletter?” I asked. She nodded. “Blogging is very much like having a newsletter,” I said. “We work with the University of Rochester and they actually decided to close down their student newsletter in favor of a blog.”

The rise of her eyebrows told me she was clearly impressed.

We talked some more. We discussed the differences and similarities between a blog and a newsletter. We, Tom and I, gently nudged her with our assurances that she could, indeed, blog if she wanted to. We shared some outcomes she might see:  increased visibility; more attention nationwide; a way to tell her unique story; recognition as an expert in her industry.

“It sounds like something I might try,” she finally said.

We said nothing. We smiled. We waited while she reread the overview we had given her; the document outlining our boot camp and how she could participate. Included in the document were benefits, including the ones I just listed above, but also the benefit of having a website you take care of yourself. Because of her status as an entrepreneur, just starting out, we could build her a blog that functioned as a website, and we could teach her to manage it on her own. Or, she could have someone in her office manage it. The key was, she wouldn’t need a web master.

The silence was broken by laughter from the table next to us. A group of what appeared to be high school kids were sharing stories they found humorous, their laughter pinging off the windows and ceiling fans. Across the coffee shop, we could hear the next person in line serve up their order, a mocha-soy-no whipped crème. The exchange of money was quiet, but the young man making the purchase dropped coins in the tip jar, sending the clatter of coins on glass reverberating through the small room.

As we sat there, the sun rose high enough to invade our space, causing us to squint.sunlight and laughter

Tom stood up and adjusted the blinds. Just enough to allow us to see, while still allowing the sun to shine through. In Upstate NY you don’t block out the sun! It appears so rarely, the residents of Rochester, NY pull it around them like a favorite sweater, or a welcome blanket, no matter when it shines!

“You’re saying I can set a schedule – twice a week,” our new client said, looking first to me, then to Tom.

We nodded. “We recommend three times a week,” Tom said, noting the line on the document that said so. “Yvonne actually writes every day.”

“Every day!” the woman’s eyes grew large. Their blueness took over her face, reflected from the pretty, mauve scarf, edged with blue, around her neck.

“You’re not me,” I assured her. “Two or three times a week is a good start.”

No one spoke after that. The client reviewed the documents in front of her. Tom and I watched, without staring. The clock ticked.

Early on in my sales career, I learned an important lesson. I learned the power of silence. I learned that silence exists for a purpose. I learned that not every exclamation or comment or even every question, deserves an answer. As a salesperson, silence can be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.

SalesMarks.com has a great article called, “The One Thing Sales People Can’t Stand”.  This paragraph is so perfect, I have to share it:

text box sales silence

Confession: I have fallen into this trap, many times. In my early days of being an entrepreneur I felt a strong need to justify my work, my prices, my very existence on the planet! As if my years of experience and the testimonials from happy clients weren’t enough. I sometimes find myself falling into this trap, even now. But, if I remember to step back (figuratively if not literally), I reassert my authority of the situation, and I remember: I am worth the pricing; I am worth the time: I am worth the relationship.

So are you.

Back in the coffee shop, the woman gave a big sigh and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Tom and had been certain she would. You get a feeling for this, after a while. You know going into a meeting whether the client is open to your proposal, or if they are going to “nickel and dime” you. It’s mostly a gut feeling, and I recommend trusting your gut. Because your gut is a reactive measure of your intuition. Intuition is sometimes nothing more than being prepared.

We had endured the long, long silence. Trust me, silence is generally something you endure, it’s not something you feel comfortable with, not when the reason you’re biting your tongue can spell the difference between paying next month’s grocery bill, or eating PB&J for three weeks! We had maintained our composure. We had relied on our presentation and our proposal.

How long did we wait? Probably one minute.

That’s all. One minute.

We allowed our client to make her own decision, based on the short conversation we had over coffee, along with the small proposal we had delivered to her the day before. It took one minute.

Not all sales calls end in the one minute time frame I’m talking about here. Sometimes, you have more than one meeting. In each meeting, whether in person, as this one was, or on the phone, or even by email, remember, less is more. You must train yourself to stop talking when you’ve made your point. Stop writing when you’ve completed your thought. Let the silence do its work.

Here’s the ultimate truth: the saying we most generally attribute to silence is more than the three words most of us share, over and over. The phrase is, “Speech is silver; silence is golden.” Which do you want to line your pockets with most – silver or gold?

(Shutterstock: People across a desk)