By Cheryl Snapp Conner @ Jan 9, 2013
This article originally appeared in my regular column at Forbes.com:
Sometimes, Silence is Golden
This is coming from someone who communicates for a living, and yes, it is true. I am here to tell you that the most important strategy of business communication, in my opinion, is the finely honed sense of when to not talk. Especially as a communicator, I can tell you (humbly, even) that the greatest business lessons I’ve learned have occurred during the times that my own mouth was shut.
Silence in the critical moments of a sales negotiations is a fairly widely known rule: He (or She) Who Speaks First, Loses. Fellow Forbes contributor Ken Krogue, of InsideSales, refers to this skill as The Paul Jarman Secret of Sales, in honor of a regional executive who uses the tactic exceptionally well.
Conversely, the inability to remain silent in negotiations can be deadly. For example, years ago, my partners and I were given 30 minutes to make our case in front of a senior executive. At the end of the presentation, my partner asked, “What would be your potential obstacles to hiring us?” We’ll never know what the CEO might have said, had he gotten a word in edgewise. The team member we’d brought along for experience filled the remaining air with praise for our company’s strengths. The prospective client was never given the opportunity to speak. Needless to say, we did not get the deal. (Nor did we ever take that associate into a sales discussion again.)
Silence is always golden when ego reigns:
1. Many a deal has been lost when someone feels the need to brag about a deal that isn’t yet closed (thanks for the heads up–perhaps it’s not too late to step in and win that deal?) In fact this is the way I’ve actually won several significant accounts.
2. Reputations have been tarnished when it’s just too tempting to blare your negative opinions of a competitor’s flaws. If you think good news travels fast, just see what this inopportune tactic will do.
To continue reading please visit my column at Forbes.com.