silence1.pngIf you want to be successful in sales, you need to effectively communicate. However, the ability to fully articulate your value and differentiation hinges on how well you listen.

Think about how frustrating conversations are when you feel like the other person is not hearing what you are saying? You never want your buyers to feel that way.

Questions are important to your discovery process, but it is just as critical that you listen to the answers. First and foremost, the ability to listen and remain silent with a prospect shows genuine interest in what that person has to say. Buyers are used to reps overlooking their viewpoints to push forward with a sale. When you ask questions and listen (be quiet), you demonstrate your willingness to understand their current state.

Your Question Track

When executing a discovery session, you should have an idea of the key discovery questions that will help uncover pain. However, don’t be crippled by your question track. The answer to one question should inform the next question you ask. You may have great discovery questions, but if you simply run through your list on the Value Framework without tailoring them to the immediate conversation – they won’t do anything to help you advance the deal.

Borrow from Journalism

When you are conducting discovery, you’re essentially interviewing your prospect. You may balk at the fact that you are comparing sales to the news. But – hear me out. Your sales discovery session may not be 60 Minutes, but the skills are the same. A reporter needs a particular interviewee to shed light on the story, provide information and reveal facts that may not have been previously known. Your goals are very similar.

In journalism school, one of the first techniques you learn about interviewing is to be quiet. People are uncomfortable with silence, so they will often keep talking to fill the noise gap. Have you ever noticed on a news interview show, like 60 minutes, the interviewer waits for the person to answer and has no issue remaining quiet?

One of the best ways you can get people to elaborate is to remain quiet. Nod your head. Provide some validating statements and wait several seconds to see if the person continues.

Silence is a powerful tool in selling. For many reps, the ability to listen quietly and intently to a prospect is unnatural. They have a burning desire to speak. By learning to listen, you can show empathy to a buyer, learn all there is to know about his situation, and ultimately convey a strong value proposition.