Shhh! Silence Can Lead to Sales

Second in a two-part article offers three tips on how avoid talking yourself out of a sale.

Last issue I reminded readers that having a plan and knowing yourself will help you avoid talking yourself out of a sale. In this issue more reasons why silence is golden - or at least green.

Tip #3: Timing is Everything
Talking yourself right out of a sale is sometimes related to having no sales "timing." Timing for sales professionals represents the rhythm that is often experienced during a sales call. There is early discussion about your business, questions are asked, the customer admits to having some needs that you can address, and then "BOOM"… you confirm the sale!

Timing is based on reading the customer and recognizing the buying signs. While you may occasionally try an early closing effort and be rebuffed, that is OK. This effort, though shot down early, sends a clear signal to the customer that you are there to get his business, not just to enjoy his company. If you have a sales plan for each customer you will be more aware of where you are in the development, what information still needs to be gathered, and when it is time to pull the sales trigger.

Tip #4: Silence is Golden
It is often easy to temporarily forget about letting the customer talk. I have found that during difficult economic realities even the best of sales professionals can fall into some bad habits. One common bad habit is feeling like "If I don't tell them everything about my firm I may not get another shot." This is understandable yet it must be pushed back.

Silence, after asking a question, allows the customer to recognize that they have a part in this sales relationship as well. Silence also suggests that you don't hurry up their response by completing their statements or by jumping on their questions too early. Silence also sends a very clear non-verbal signal that you are confident, you are composed, and that you are not in a hurry. Your internal thoughts may be racing like NASCAR but you must maintain confidence and control of your emotions. When you ask a question, even a challenging question about why a prospect is not going with your company, SHUT UP and listen!

Tip #5: Be Flexible and Forgive Yourself
Contractors might be the most flexible business people around. Reading your customer, adjusting to his personality and needs, speeding up the process or slowing it down, you must be flexible. Yet, you still must work from a consistent platform, and that platform again returns to the sales plan.

In football it is quite common for the quarterback to "audible," that is, change the play that was called to a new play because of the opposing defense. The quarterback's job is to take a play that looks like failure and change it to a play that will be successful. You are the "QB" for your company in a selling situation. You must know as much about your product, your processes, your production, your customer, your customer needs in order to more effectively call the right play. At times, what you had in your sales plan will just not be effective so you "audible" to another strategy, question, or response.

It is also critical that you forgive yourself. Yes, you will inevitably experience that sales call where you recognized all the buying signs from the customer but rather than confirming the sale you kept right on talking yourself out of the sale. When that happens, and it will happen, forgive yourself. Learn from your mistake, make the appropriate corrections, review the corrections in your mind, and get prepared to jump back into the same sales situation again with a new strategy, focus, and purpose in mind.

Look, we all make mistakes. When you have experienced talking yourself out of a sale determine to "get back on that horse" and sell again. And don't think that you will never get another shot at selling the customer that you blew it with. In fact, I would suggest that you contact him again to see when you might be able to revisit his needs and expectations. If necessary ask him to forgive you but explain that you "get pretty darn excited about your firm's strengths." Many customers may actually appreciate your self-deprecating humor and allow you to come back.

Be confident, poised, quick to listen, and have a plan! Good selling!