No Bull: In Sales Silence is Golden

Aug 13, 2010 | Sales

By Hank Trisler, Author of No Bull Selling: 2010 Edition, and reprinted from SalesGravy

Silence used to terrify me. When I was a much younger man, just beginning to learn how to sell, I was convinced that selling equated to talking. If I wasn’t talking, I wasn’t selling and if I didn’t sell, I’d starve to death. That’s terrifying.

I immediately set off to rectify this situation on two fronts. First, I determined that I would learn every single feature and benefit of my product, so no customer would be able to ask me a question I couldn’t answer. I was trying to sell Oldsmobiles at the time, so I learned the differences between the 88, the Super 88 and the 98 models. I learned the piston displacement of the engines, I learned the cubic footage of the trunks, I learned so much my poor baby mind was just slopping over with product knowledge.

I couldn’t keep ahead of them. The customers still asked questions I couldn’t answer, as I hadn’t thought of them. Besides, the answers kept changing. I’d just learn one set of numbers and a new model would come along and it was a whole new game.

The second front was I studied talking. I read a couple of books on the subject and joined Toastmasters® International. They taught me not to say “Ah,” and to button my suit coat, but still people weren’t particularly interested in what I was saying.

I determined that if they weren’t interested in me, I needed to talk louder and faster and I did. People would come into our dealership and I’d holler, “Good morning and thank you for coming in to Fleet Service Oldsmobile. My name is Hank Trisler. How may I help you this lovely day?”

And they’d say, “Just looking,” or “Looking for the Parts Department,” or “Where’s the men’s room?”

People didn’t want to hear me babble. They had their own agenda when they walked in and fulfilling that agenda was of primary importance to them.

I learned to simply say, “Good morning,” and then to shut up. They would then tell me about their agenda and I saved a lot of time and wind.

Silence is frightening, as silence is a form of vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum, so someone’s words will always rush in to fill the vacuum. If you don’t know what to say, the silence will be frightening, as it makes you realize how little you know.

Don’t sweat it. If you just shut up, the customer will very likely talk, just to fill the vacuum. The pressure you feel is also on the customer. The first person to talk loses control of the conversation.

The central issue, then, is how to remain silent in the face of the enormous pressure of silence. If you’re like me, you’ll simply crack and begin to babble, just to make the quiet go away.

Try counting. Every time you ask a customer a question, or make a statement, count. That’s right,  “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi, Four Mississippi…” NO, not out loud. Do it under your breath.

Having something on which to concentrate will allow you to focus on keeping your mouth shut and eliminate all the fear from silence. Silence is your friend. Use it for fun and profit and believe your customers will appreciate it, too.

Hank Trilser, CEO of the Trisler Company, has been inspiring exceptional sales performance for more than fourty years.He brings to bear his rich experience and common sense tactics in this newly revised 3rd edition of his classic, bestselling book. Sprinkled with humorous anecdotes and hypothetical situations, No Bull Selling tells you what you need to make that sale. 


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