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To pause or not to pause

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Mastering the art of pausing can be a powerful tool in the sales process. There is however, a time to pause, and a time not to pause.

A time to pause…
The pause can be used most effectively by a sales person after they ask a client a question. Obviously, the idea behind asking any question is that you are hoping to get an answer. Sales people, at times, have been guilty of asking a question and then answering it for the client. For example, they may ask, "How important is safety to you in your next vehicle? (ever-so-slight a pause) is for most people and safety and fuel economy is where this new model really beats the competition!... it's got this new crash zone technology that… blah blah blah".

Sometimes this happens very deliberately where the sales person doesn't really want to hear the answer to their question, and sometimes it happens because the sales person simply doesn't pause long enough after asking the question to let the client answer. Remember, the sales person may have asked that same question every day for the last year and also knows they will likely get a fairly typical response. The client, on the other hand, hasn't heard the question recently and may need a few seconds to think before responding.  They have valuable information and will give you the reasons they will buy – but only if you ask a good question and let them answer!

Another place the pause is effective in the sales process is after a client finishes telling you something. Just before you reply to the client take a second or two to pause. The purpose behind this is to make sure the client is actually finished. They may just be regrouping their thoughts and getting ready to tell you something you really want to know – something that will help you make the sale. The side benefit of pausing before you speak is that you will give the client the impression you are really listening (you should be, you asked the question) and that you are very thoughtful and purposeful about your responses.

When NOT to pause…
Pausing at the wrong time in a sale can create some unwelcome results. If we pause at the transition points in the sales process we create an uncomfortable silence that the client may use as an opportunity to leave. For example, after a complete product presentation if we pause then the number of people continuing to demonstration falls. Instead we need to continue with a transition statement like: "Mr. Smith, may I show you what I think are the two most impressive features of this vehicle that I haven't shown you yet? (pause and they will say yes) great, that's the ride and handling."

Another time where pausing can cause trouble is after you present the price. Never leave pricing hanging because people will focus only on it. Summarize the features of the product, the personal benefits to them, review the figures, and immediately ask a closing question like: "when did you want to take delivery?" It is a low percentage approach to pause before the closing question and hope the client will jump in and say that they will take it. The client will fill the silence with an objection or stall like: "I'm going to go home to think about it."

Think about when you should or shouldn't pause. Pausing at the right time in your interview makes you a good listener and gives you a better understanding of the client's needs. Not pausing during the transition points and the close increases your odds of having the client say yes and decreases the odds of getting an objection.

"Opportunity follows struggles. It follows effort. It follows hard work.
It doesn't come before."
–Shelby Steele

Automotivaters is highly recognized and one of the most respected automotive training and consulting companies in Canada. Since 1987, the company has acquired an international client base throughout Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, French Polynesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and New Zealand.

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Copyright © 2017 by ISI/PAL Automotivaters Inc. If you share this, print it out, or reproduce it in any way, please retain this copyright statement.

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