Fred Rogers is famous for the children’s show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS from 1968 to 2001. His objective was to use television to help children learn how to talk about emotions. His lessons are not only helpful to children, but also to those of us who want to be successful salespeople.
Mr. Rogers said, “Silence is one of the greatest gifts we have.” Silence is a tool all salespeople have but rarely use. Silence makes salespeople uncomfortable. Why? Why do we think when we ask a customer or prospect a thoughtful question they should answer immediately?
Silence can be used throughout the sales process in many ways.
Asking a question and listening patiently without interrupting, encourages people to think and allows them time to provide thorough answers. You learn what they value. This enables you to establish how your product or service is the best solution. Asking a question and being silent also encourages customers to continue speaking. Most of us are not comfortable with silence and fill the void with words. We learn much more about our customers’ needs by patiently letting them respond and actively listening.
Mr. Rogers once asked the children on his show, “Do you want to know how long a minute is?” To demonstrate, he turned on an egg timer, and just sat quietly for one minute. He believed slow space was not wasted space. Salespeople will sell more if they learn to use this slow space. Don’t talk over it!
Silence is even more useful when negotiating! We’ll have more on that in our next post.
Mr. Rogers said the best way to get children to share their feelings was to ask short, simple, direct questions and then wait for them to answer. When they responded, he listened, waiting for them to elaborate, then they would say a little more. He believed this was a great interviewing tactic. This is also a powerful selling tool.
Practice using silence when speaking with people. Before filling that void with words, count to ten slowly in your head. See for yourself what a great gift silence can be. Put silence to work when speaking with your customers and prospects. Reap the benefits of silence!
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