A majority of us dread the sound of dead air. We try to fill up the quiet because it’s deafening. You are not alone here; pregnant pauses induce uncomfortable feelings. When we are presenting an idea and it is met with silence, our imaginations go wild. We believe the customer might say “I hate it,” “I hate you,” “This is the worst product idea I’ve ever heard,” “It costs way too much,” and “You are a fraud.”
So before we hear anything we might not like, sometimes we throw something in just to be sure they “get” what we are trying to put forth. We cut “fantasy” (because we don’t know if it’s true or not) bad news off at the pass. This is a sucker’s move.
When you propose something during what feels like an awkward moment of truth, and it gets quiet and they are contemplating – DO NOTHING. WAIT. Yes, it will seem like an eternity, but wait for a beat or two. Practice being with the quiet, and it will get easier. She who speaks first isn’t in the power position.
When the customer does respond, instead of employing a knee-jerk reaction, digest what she’s finally said. Buy time and clarify by asking, “Were you saying… ?” If you don’t wish to ask directly, you can be psychic and try to read into what they’ve just said by playing it back to them with your interpretation. If they say, “No, I didn’t mean it that way,” than either your listening is off or your prospect is confused, playing/testing you, or her/his phrasing is just unclear. That’s when you should ask them to repeat it. This way you get on the same page.
Try some self-psych self-talk by saying this: “I am able to handle whatever comes my way.” Make it a habit to count, “1, 1000, 2, 1000, 3, 1000,” in your head so you give customers time to formulate a reply. This also keeps you busy so you don’t blurt.
As you allow for more silent spaces when you have conversations with friends, kids, mates and customers, you will find how they enjoy being heard and trust you more. Once that happens, you can continue to advance the sales conversation and confidently head to the close.