Don’t Say Anything At All!

What’s the first thing you should do when the customer objects during your sales presentation?

When we began discussing objections we said that the first step in our model is to make a statement of empathy or understanding, for example, “I can certainly understand your concern.”  But there’s an earlier step you can incorporate after the objection and before you speak, and if you can make yourself do it, you will find it to be incredibly effective.

Simply pause.  Don’t say anything at all!  This is a short hesitation (“one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three” is about right) and during this time make sure you appear to the customer to be interested and concerned, as opposed to scowling at him or looking flustered or exasperated.

Great communicators know how to use silence effectively and this is one of those occasions.  Let’s look at four helpful reasons why a pause after the objection is a good tactic:

1)       When you fail to answer immediately, it gives the customer an opening to keep talking.  If he wants to continue to object, that’s just fine. Let the customer talk.  Remember that when the customer is talking, he is buying.  Allowing a brief pause after the objection gives the customer this great opportunity to continue.  In my own experience this is sometimes enough to quell the objection as customers will often talk themselves right out of it:  “It’s probably not that big a deal; I shouldn’t even have brought it up.”  Your silence allows the customer to self-discover by sorting it out in his own mind.

2)      It demonstrates to the customer that you have taken the objection seriously. It’s a sign of respect and helps maintain rapport.  The customer will see that you are taking the objection seriously and not being defensive or combative.

3)      The next thing you say will be important, so it gives you additional time to think. Next you are going to make a statement of empathy.  Think about how you want to phrase it.

4)      The pause also tends to reduce the emotional tension in the conversation, restoring calm, which is just what you need.  Objections generally have some emotion attached to them.  You want to restore the quiet, tension-free level that preceded the objection in order to advance your sale.  Some salespeople think it’s important to counter an objection with a snappy comeback, so you look prepared and informed.  Not so.  The risk of the snappy comeback is that you cause the customer to think you are arguing with him.  Be careful.

We have more to discuss on this subject and in a future post I’ll help those of you who are sales trainers to develop the best responses to common objections that you can use in your workshops, as I do in mine.   You already have the best response to the price objection in my last post.

But in my next post I want to pick up on a topic I introduced in my e-newsletter, on some neat ideas for incorporating benefit statements and how powerfully they work.  This is a subject that is often taken for granted—“Oh no, not benefit statements again!”  It’s pretty easy to teach or train, but it’s seldom used effectively in the field.  We’ll talk about it next time.

By the way, did you receive a copy of my newsletter by email?  If you want to subscribe, just drop me a line and I’ll add you.

Meanwhile, remember to

Think Like Your Customer!

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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