Silence, please

‘The meeting had gone exceedingly well. We were in London, and one of our executives had just made an excellent presentation to some British businessmen. I was sure these gentlemen were quite impressed. A kind of dramatic silence occurred as they looked at each other to see who was going to respond first.’

But just as one of them was about to speak the executive began summarising the positive aspects of the concepts he had just presented. This happened a few times.

Finally, someone laughed and said to him, ‘Ah, the joys of silence… let someone else speak.’

A lot has been written about the use of silence in selling, for good reason.’ – What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School, Mark H McCormack

There comes a point in a sales pitch where no one should be talking. Silence has so many different applications. 

There is enormous power in silence.

You might learn something if you allow yourself to stop talking and start listening, but you knew that already… 

What you didn’t know is that even if you don’t learn, you’ll have a chance to collect your thoughts and stop yourself from saying more than you need to. Better yet, the other person saying more than they mean to. 

This isn’t deception, just common sense, really. 

The real skill is in knowing when to be silent, and how to feel comfortably uncomfortable while you let it do its work. 


Silence is the best void you’ll ever find

Silence is a void and people feel an overwhelming need to fill it, don’t let it be you. When asking for some information and you find that the answer is unsatisfactory, remain silent. After the slightest pause, that person will likely start to elaborate and tell you things you might need to hear.

It might be direct sales, negotiation or a conversation over kitchenette cups of tea. If you want to pitch something; once you’ve asked for commitment, don’t reinstate your case.

Avoid, ‘I know it’s a tough decision but…’

Don’t help them out.

If they answer a question, answer monosyllabically. 

Let the deafening silence sit there. 

Once you’ve got to the heart of your purpose, let it sit.. 

You’ll make even the most trusting person question their decision if it’s followed by, ‘You won’t regret this’, or ‘Best decision you’ve ever made.’ 

Change the subject. Talk about their holiday, kids, where they live (for more see our recent social post on ‘Meaningful Conversation’) – Read it now

Wait and confirm the details later, and in writing. Allow your conversation to end on an upbeat note. 

Wishing you the greatest silence, from this day forward! 

Let us know if you have any questions, but we’ll probably answer monosyllabically.