When the customer goes silent, the first thing you need to do is let them think.
The worst thing you can do is jump in and start giving them a reason to not buy right now.
When you jump in too quickly, almost always the signal that you send is you’re willing to make a deal or you’re in a panic to get the order.
Either way, you lose and the customer wins.
The customer wins because they wind up getting a better deal or they walk away because they don’t have confidence in you and what you’re selling.
If you have taken the time to understand from the customer their needs and have structured your value proposition accordingly, then you have nothing to worry about.
Just because the customer doesn’t say “yes” right away is not a reason to worry. We all make our decisions at various rates of speed.
This again is where your sales process should have helped you understand a little bit about how the customer thinks and the speed with which they make decisions.
A question I like to ask during the selling process to find out more is, “How have you made decisions like this before?” Goal is to get them to share with you in advance what you might be able to expect from them when it’s time to close the sale.
If the customer goes completely silent on you and won’t give you any indication as to why, you should try one of the below methods:
If you’re still in the meeting with them or on the phone, use the assumptive closing technique. State confidently something like, “Well, would the 15th or 21st work best for you to start receiving the order?”
Yes, the approach also works in an email, but my preference is to always close deals minimally over the telephone if I can’t meet with them in person.
If a day or two has gone by and you still haven’t heard anything, approach them with a question that ties back to a critical need they have and link it to the urgency of time.
An example might be, “I know you have the new plant starting up in 6 weeks, and in order for everything to run smoothly, we’ll need to get the order moving forward by the end of the week.”
With this situation, you’re drawing attention to a key need they have and help them realize why they have been dealing with you from the beginning. You are committed to advising them on solutions.
Having a customer go silent is not the end of the road. It’s merely an opportunity for you to get paid doing what you’re supposed to be doing — closing sales other people can’t get!
Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.
I agree that the first thing is to let them think, but would offer a slightly different thought process and approach for moving forward. I think if you use the assumptive close, you are taking a very large risk of loosing the sale. This is a technique that is looked upon very cynically by most buyers and many will resent you using it on them. If you quote your price, on the phone or in person, and the customer goes silent, stay silent yourself. The reason being is that you might be the leader in the race for the business! They might be trying to figure out how to get this moving forward as soon as possible. You don’t want to blow it by giving the “alternative” close. If you start to act like every other salesperson they have ever dealt with at this point, your credibility is shot. And if you do have the need to speak first, simply ask if they have any questions on the price before we move forward.
Also, pressuring them on time-lines is somewhat risky from my perspective. I would suggest tying your comments back to the value you and your company bring to the table and then mention that with an answer by the end of the week, you can deliver that value in the mutually agreed upon time frame (six weeks for the new plant start-up) . You want to show that you are a partner, not just another salesperson.
Having a customer go silent can be a good thing. Most customers don’t negotiate price with all vendors they are getting bids from, only the one they want to do business with. So, your customer going silent on you can be a good sign!
Thanks for the opportunity to respond!