A powerful (yet underused) sales technique

Asking good sales questions is vital to your success. But, that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Instead, we’re going to focus on what happens after you ask those questions. It’s no secret that you need to be a good listener—to most salespeople, that’s a big duh!

But here’s the deal: After asking a sales question, if the prospect hasn’t responded within 2-3 seconds, the average seller will simply jump in to fill the silence. That’s right—2-3 seconds is the most people can stand before they start blathering just to make some noise. They might talk about their company, product or service. Or, they’ll ask another question, hoping that will get the prospect talking.

But when you do this, you end up sounding like every other self-serving salesperson, and your credibility goes spiraling down the drain.

Research shows that if you ask a really good sales question—one which requires your prospects to think—it will take them 8-10 seconds to respond. This means that every time you butt in because you can’t stand the awkward silence, you lose information that could help you close the deal.

So what’s the solution? Learning to get comfortable with silence—one of the hardest things I ever did. It was painful to have to sit there and not say anything.

Then one day, I discovered a way to deal with it: I simply started counting in my head 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000—all the way up to 10. If my prospect hadn’t answered by then, it was time for me to reframe the question.

The result? I gained invaluable insights into my prospects’ businesses, priorities, challenges, objectives and decision-making processes.

So, the next time you’re with a prospect, give this stunningly underused sales technique a shot. You’ll be uncomfortable at first—that’s guaranteed. But you’ll also be amazed by what you learn.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.

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