Having a moment of silence during a conversation can be uncomfortable, especially for sellers who may feel like a pause slows down momentum. But when used thoughtfully and methodically, a pause in speaking and actions can make a powerful statement. It can also pave the way for opportunities to connect even more with others.
3 times to pause during the sales process
“Most of us fear pausing while communicating with others,” explains communications coach John Millen. “Few of us plan for a pause — the intentional space when we will stop ‘saying’ and, simply, wait. This is critical because what you don't say can be as important, or more important, than what you say.”
Taking a moment before and after speaking has benefits for both you and your audience. But when should you interject pauses? Writing for Sales Gravy, Jim Domanski shares several times when a pause would be appropriate and beneficial. One of the best opportunities is after you ask a question. In fact, most sales advice encourages sellers to stay quiet following a question. This can be effective any time, whether you’re in a one-on-one meeting or presenting to a large group. By taking a moment, you’re giving others the space they need to ponder your question and give you a quality response.
One tip to help yourself put this into practice is to keep a glass of water nearby when possible. As Mark Jewell, president and co-founder of Selling Energy, suggests, ”If silence makes you uncomfortable, keep a glass of water in front of you. Ask the question, then take a leisurely sip of water. This gives your prospect the time to think so that he or she can respond with an honest answer.”
During a sales pitch or presentation
Another time a pause can be impactful is when it’s taken during a pitch or presentation. Find points during your talk where you can fit in a pause, especially after a piece of information that you really want others to retain. “As counter-intuitive as it may seem, you actually connect on the silence,” writes Patricia Fripp for SalesFuel. “This is when your audience, even if it is one person, digests and reflects on what they have heard. If you rush on at full speed to squeeze in as much information as possible, chances are your prospects will remember less.” The pause can even give others time to not only process what you said but also generate questions or feedback.
If you include storytelling in your talk, Millen recommends adding in at least one pause. Storytelling is an effective way to connect, and you can strengthen that connection by simply taking a moment’s break from your story.
After an objection
Even if hearing an objection from a prospect doesn’t leave you speechless, it can be a good time to simply take a pause. Rather than frantically trying to come up with a response to the objection, give yourself a moment to absorb what you’ve heard. Understandably, this may go against your natural response.
As Marc Wayshak points out, “For most salespeople, discomfort over objections typically leads to a nervous verbal tirade, trying to persuade the prospect of why they must buy…In your head, take a two- to four-second beat and simply wait before responding. Show your comfort, show your confidence, by pausing before reacting.” You’ll demonstrate that you are being thoughtful about what they’ve said rather than quickly dismissing it. It also gives you time to gather your thoughts and come up with an appropriate response.
For sellers, a pause during a conversation or speech may feel like putting on the brakes. But there are times during the sales process when it can be beneficial. Considering these tips, take time to find moments when you can use a pause to create opportunity for deeper engagement, connection and overall impact.