Seven years ago, the World Health Organization referred to noise pollution as a "modern plague" and said overwhelming evidence indicates "exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population."
The world has only grown more clamorous since then. Even though a lively store can indicate business is brisk, merchants need respites from the hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, they often consider meeting with merchant level salespeople (MLSs) to be far from restorative; they typically think of MLSs as part of the noise.
One way to mitigate this is to become friends with silence and let your prospects do the talking. In Good Selling!SM: The Basics, Paul H. Green wrote, "Although a meeting between a salesperson and a prospective buyer is, by definition, the salesperson's opportunity to present a product or service for the customer's consideration, in reality, the more the customer talks, the greater control the salesperson has over the outcome of the meeting. He allows the customer to talk himself into the sale."
Thus, silence on the part of MLSs is good for the bottom line – and even at times when the merchant and the agent's offerings aren't a good fit, the merchant will have had a few moments of respite from noise, a few moments when another person sat quietly, providing full, relaxed attention. That in itself is a gift that usually goes unnoticed, but it can leave a lasting good impression.
So next time you have the urge to jump in and hear a merchant begin to voice an objection you've heard many times before, wait instead. "The learned skill of 'shutting up' is applicable throughout the sales process," Green wrote. "Very often a salesperson will hear the first few words of a customer's objection (one so often repeated and familiar that the salesperson could answer it in his sleep) and cannot resist the urge to interrupt the customer."
Restraining the urge to interrupt can lead to having a more meaningful conversation with your prospect. "Sometimes the customer's expanded remarks reveal a deeper, hidden objection, one that will remain forever hidden if the salesperson interrupts," Green wrote. He added that interruptions are also rude and disrespectful and unlikely to endear the salesperson to the merchant.
"The art of being silent is, by itself, more powerful than all other selling skills combined," Green noted. "While it is possible to earn a living and even build a successful career without mastering this skill, the selling life is certainly easier and more productive for those who do master it."
Silence is something you can also give to yourself. Set aside a little quiet time before you go out on your sales calls. Step away from your computer, leave your phone at your desk, and enjoy a peaceful spot nearby or take a short walk down a side street. Give yourself a moment to be free of performance expectations. You'll boost your peace of mind and your health, and likely have a much easier time listening to merchants when called upon to do so.
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