Trying to do “Nothing” is tough!
I was training a new sales consultant, and as we came to the end of “the pitch” I explained that at this point, under no circumstance are you to say anything. I told her to let the silence sink in the room and at all costs let our future client speak next. My new consultant said she understood so we practiced. She finished the pitch by asking our “close line” and waiting for me, playing “the customer,” to respond. I waited. And waited. I coughed – waiting some more. I fidgeted in my seat and continued to wait. She was great! She didn’t say anything! The silence, even in practice, was dreadfully awkward, but she kept quiet. We were ready for the real deal.
I shadowed her on her first consultation. The entire pitch was perfect. Every nuance we discussed was executed flawlessly and as she came to her closing line I was confident the sale would be hers. Her closing line went like this,
“besides price or payment, would there be any reason we couldn’t go ahead and get this project started today?”
There was silence.
The prospects looked at us. We looked back at them. You could hear nothing in the room. I admit, it was awkward, but the hard part was done! We had asked them a question and now we just had to wait for an answer. All we had to do was shut up, and wait.
The silence continued for a moment longer and I watched my consultant fidget with her pen, and look down at her legal pad. I saw it coming from a mile away (the death of the sale), she took a deep breath and mumbled,
“so, does that sound like what you wanted? Or were you expecting something different? We have some payment options for you if you think maybe that would help.”
Inside I was screaming! What do you not understand about keeping quiet? They haven’t answered your first question, why are you asking them another question? Why are you asking them two more questions? Payment options? We don’t even know if they want to get the project started and you are bringing up payment options? AHHHHH!
Why was it important for the consultant to keep quiet and allow the prospect to speak next? It was important because the prospect’s response would dictate our next move. If we guess what a client is thinking, or what they might say, and respond, we are likely making more work for ourselves and risk loosing the sale!
If the prospect says, “Nope. I can’t think of any reason. Let’s get started.” then we can start signing a contract and work out the form of payment. If they say, “Well, actually I am going out of town tomorrow, would you be able to start the project in two weeks?” then we know we need to address that concern before moving forward.
People want to feel like they are being productive. Humans like to feel busy. Sales people are no different. It is hard for them to sit and let the client lead. Being quiet and letting the client make the next move causes the salesperson to feel like they aren’t working hard enough. To them, it feels better to be doing something (talking), rather than doing “nothing” (staying quiet), even when we know that doing nothing will give us what we want!
Happier Customers through Cardio
About a decade ago Southwest Airlines was receiving complaints from passengers about the long wait time for luggage at baggage claim. It took Southwest approximately 20 minutes to deliver luggage from the plane to baggage claim, regardless of the planes location. It took passengers only ten minutes to reach baggage claim. This caused passengers to stand around and wait for ten minutes, causing complaints. The airlines solution? Park the passengers further away from baggage claim.
By parking passengers further away from baggage claim, the passenger’s commute became longer. It now took twenty minutes for passengers to arrive at baggage claim; the same amount of time it took Southwest to deliver luggage. This eliminated the wait time and people stopped complaining. The passengers did not receive their bags any faster than before, it just took them longer to arrive at baggage claim. People felt productive because they were walking.
This proves that people, salespeople included, want to feel like they are being productive.
Don’t get caught in this trap. Sometimes staying quiet, is the best thing you can do.
Whether you are selling in someone’s house, on a car-lot, or online, selling is a like a dance and your client should always lead. The problem most sales people have is that they try and sell! Stop it! Let the clients sell themselves. The only way to do this is to be quiet, listen, and let them lead. If you are listening, then you are selling. If you are talking – then you are just going end getting parked further away from baggage claim.