85. When should you use a carefully planned pause?

"Silence is a tactic used by seasoned and experienced sales people. If you find that you are doing most of the talking, the customer is probably using your information to see how much they can find out about you or your company. If you ask a question and fail to get an answer from the customer, do not jump in and answer for them. You will end up putting all your cards on the table before the game begins. Instead, use the power of the pause."

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When you use the pause, you freeze the sale for a moment. You step away, physically or psychologically, to review the work you have done up to that point and check over your plan for the rest of the presentation. You take a break. It may be purely mental, it may be imperceptible to the customer, but you give yourself whatever time it takes to review matters before you continue.

Using a pause gives you the opportunity to review the entire process of the sales presentation and to make sure that you are not overlooking anything. It allows you to avoid getting boxed into a corner. By using a pause, you keep your emotions from ruling the presentation.

Everyone has a different way of using a pause. Sometimes, how you pause depends on the situation.

In a selling situation, having someone with whom you have to consult before giving a final answer is a convenient excuse for pressing the pause button. Simply say, "I will have to run this by my partner (or consultant, sales manager, etc.) and get back to you at 9:00 tomorrow morning."

Taking notes is helpful at many points in a sales situation. One of the best times to pull out your pen is when you need to pause. Writing down statements that are confusing or upsetting is an excellent way to use the pause. Rather than stating an inappropriate remark, tell the customer to hold on while you write down the statement. Ask the customer to check what you have written to be sure that you got it right. The process of putting those words on paper almost always causes the customer to backtrack, amend, or, better yet, erase the words altogether.

Use a pause at each critical moment to review the presentation or to decide when to close a sale. Use a pause whenever you are feeling pressured or under stress.

Sales people can get caught up in the emotions of making the sale. They are afraid to lose. They fall in love with the idea of the sale and ignore facts that are important to decision making. They let their own moods, or the moods of the prospect, rule the presentation, causing things to wander off course. These problems disappear when you use a pause.

Pause before you give into a price discount. Your moment of reflection gives the price discount some significance. You must treat the discount as significant, or you are not perceived as having given a discount. No price discount is unimportant. By emphasizing each discount in your own mind, you have not given ground for nothing.

The obvious and easiest example is conceding a price too quickly. Too often, a quick response robs the customer of the good feelings that they get after making a good buy. It leaves the customer feeling that they could have gotten more if they had been smarter. Although that may be true, what advantage is it to you that they feel that way? None. Worse, now they are out to prevent that mistake from occurring the next time you negotiate, or they compensate by taking a hard line on another aspect of the sale.

Some buyers use pressure to get what they want from a sales person. Sometimes, the pause tactic is your only defense against being pressured into making a decision based on the buyer's deadline.


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