On average, we inhale and exhale over 17,000 times per day. This process comes naturally, without any thought or attention. As salespeople, we don't care much about breathing - except when we're on the phone or meeting face-to-face with prospects and all of a sudden, we find ourselves suddenly devoid of words, just breathing, ... that dreaded awkward pause. But, if utilized effectively, this lull in conversation can help us control the conversation, uncover pain points, and drive more value from your call.
"The Pause" is one of the most valuable tools a sales person can master. A slow, long, and sometimes incredibly awkward but expertly placed pause can change the entire course of a conversation. Giving yourself a quick break will allow you to think of your next question without adding a droning "umm" or "uhhh". As a result, the conversations will become more focused, logical, and tailored. When used correctly, you'll be able to envision the direction of the conversation and gain the control you need to get the answers you're digging for.
By pausing, you do something very special for prospects as well. You allow them to take a moment to digest and process the information you're providing, and make connections. Well-timed pauses are the difference between the prospect believing you're simply talking at them like every other sales call and what feels like genuine intentions to ease their business pain.
Utilizing The Pause can also help uncover your prospects' pains. People hate awkward silences. I was once on the phone with a prospect that was clearly not enthralled to be speaking with me. Question after question only led to one-word, monotone, and uninformative responses. It wasn’t until I said “so it seems like it’s going well, then...” and followed up with an uncomfortable five-second pause that I finally had a breakthrough. My prospect began with a “Well...” and suddenly, she was telling me the trouble she had with the smug SEO consultant her team had hired and that they weren’t seeing the return on investment from their marketing efforts. All that from an awkward pause.
Remembering The Pause will help you gain control of the conversation and help the prospect process and understand your intentions. It will help you match the pace of the conversation and it can uncover hidden pain. The Pause costs no money, saves time, and as you begin to utlize it, you will start to see the ROI. We breathe over 17,000 times a day - make them count.
What do you say during pauses during your sales calls? Do you have any suggestions for your fellow salespeople on how to turn awkward pauses into awesome opportunities?
Rebecca Goldring is a HubSpot Business Development Representative and a star baker. You can follow her at @becca_bakes.
Originally published Sep 16, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017