Sunday, July 15, 2012

Do You Practice 'Smart Silence'?

We’ve talked quite a bit about asking questions, but you’re not going to hear any data from the Decision Maker (DM) unless you zip it occasionally.
• Listen to each answer in full. Do not anticipate their answer.
• When they stop talking, nod your head -- a non-verbal suggestion they should continue talking.

When you don’t talk, the DM doesn’t know what you’re thinking. As a result, the DM often will start talking to fill the silence, which helps you gain more information and, when appropriate, can diffuse a confrontational situation.

Will some of the silence be awkward? Yep -- but use it to your advantage. Don’t speak just because the silence becomes uncomfortable for you. Silence -- even uncomfortable silence -- can be beneficial if you want to:
• Encourage the DM to talk more on the subject
• Change the mood of the meeting from casual/fun to serious
• Take some time to think
Maintain emotional control
• Take additional notes

Additionally, silence prevents the you from leading the DM towards the answer you are hoping for, forcing them to respond more accurately. In other words, wait as long as it takes to get the true answer from the DM.

You can harm your ability to gain information if your questions or comments are lengthy. The 30-Second Rule is a guideline that you should talk 30 seconds or less each time you speak, otherwise you jeopardize the effectiveness of the discussion. The 30-Second Rule improves communication and understanding between the sales rep and the DM because it keeps individual points separated, making them easier to digest and understand, even in long, in-depth conversations. If you talk longer than 30 seconds at a time, the higher the likelihood the DM will miss your point. This “rule” isn’t always literally 30 seconds, but it conveys a clear and memorable communication principle that you need to control your conversation with a DM.

To be effective with the 30-Second Rule, provide small pieces of information on the topic you’re trying to convey to the DM. Follow-up by asking a question or asking them for feedback. Doing this provides improved communication because you actively engage the DM in the conversation. While more complex topics require more explanation, the information will be more easily understood if you stop and ask for feedback during the explanation. Resist the tendency to keep talking until you exhaust the subject.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.