In the world of sales, much ink has been spilled on closing techniques. Knowing what to say is an important skill, and listening perhaps an even more important one. But there is one technique more important than speaking or listening.
What I mean is, the issue of closing should be taken literally — closing as in knowing when to keep your mouth closed. The less said the better when an order is on the line.
My uncle was one of the greatest closers I ever saw, and I’ve seen a lot of them. The most interesting thing about his closing technique was that he hardly said anything. He’d ask for the order and then keep his mouth closed. Often there would be a prolonged, awkward silence. Eventually it was the buyer who cracked, usually by saying something like, “I guess I’ll take some.”
Most people can’t stand those awkward silences in a sales conversation. But salespeople should avoid the temptation to speak, because anything they say is liable to put the order further out of reach. For instance:
- Talking about your customer-friendly return policy leads the buyer to question the quality of your product. The buyer will infer you honed your return policy thanks to the great volume of products being returned.
- Talking about how terrific your price is tempts the buyer to ask for a better deal.
- Mentioning your promotional price ends at the end of the week encourages the buyer to wait until the end of the week to order. In the meantime, who knows what could happen.
- Blurting out something like, “If you’re not able to order five, I’ll give you three at the same price,” encourages the buyer to ask for one at the same price. (Never negotiate with yourself.)
Don’t mistake silence for reluctance when a buyer is quiet. A well-trained buyer knows what we’ve been discussing here, and may be using silence as a negotiating technique. Or, the buyer may simply be thinking it over, in which case interrupting him or her isn’t going to be helpful.
In short, when an order is on the line, silence speaks louder than words.