You have the right to remain silent.
As a salesperson, you not only have the right to remain silent, you are often obligated to stay quiet! When selling, anything you say can and will be used against you in a negotiation; and you are always negotiating. In our last blog post, we discussed how silence is one of the most potent tools salespeople have. Well, it turns out silence may be the single most potent tactic you have when negotiating.
Silence is often perceived as awkward. Silence creates a strong urge within us to keep talking. Use it when negotiating to apply subtle pressure and the person with whom you are negotiating may share information they don't want you to know. At the very least using silence might provide you the insight you need to ask more profound questions about the other person's situation. In negotiating, information is power. Silence is a magnet for information.
The power of silence is often overlooked when answering questions. How often have we heard a customer ask, "How much?" and a salesperson replies with a lengthy explanation trying to justify a price they believe to be too high. Want customers to accept your prices? Then answer the price question directly, factually, and concisely with solid eye contact and be quiet. Allow time for your prospect or customer to respond. Let them tell you they are not happy with the price, don’t help them by volunteering that you aren’t confident about it either. That is a recipe for lower margins. Who knows, they may not even have a problem with it.
One of the worst things we can do in a negotiation is to talk ourselves out of a good deal with negative self-talk. Sometimes we must be silent to ourselves. Don't allow negative thoughts to cripple your ability to negotiate confidently.
Visibly nervous people seldom do well in negotiations. When we are nervous, we tend to talk faster and at a higher pitch. Silence helps you avoid looking nervous. You may be coming apart inside, but by remaining calm and talking less, no one will suspect it. Silence exudes confidence. Want to appear more confident in a negotiation? Talk less, ask more. Heck, you might even come across as intimidating . . . If that's what you want.
Silence slows things down and allows both you and your customer time to think and consider possible creative alternatives.
As with most forms of communication in a business environment, less is more. Avoid the compelling temptation to talk too much. Ask questions and patiently, quietly, wait for the answers.
Attend our next Value-Added Negotiating course to better negotiate on value instead of price.