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Mouth Shut, Ears Open

In sales, silence is golden. Early in sales my career I heard the expression “Many a sale has been killed by the jawbone of an ass.”

My first sales manager shared that gem with me after he observed me on a sales call. He explained that I had a tendency to talk too much (for the record he wasn’t the first or last person to tell me that).

His coaching helped me learn that in sales it is best to assume a mouth shut, ears open mindset. In sales, silence is golden.

Shooting From the Lip

Over the years I’ve observed 100’s of sellers on 1000’s of sales calls do the same thing—speaking when it’s un-wanted, un-needed or un-necessary.

I call it “Shooting from the lip”.

The seller means well. They feel they are contributing to the process.  Providing more information. Answering possible questions or objections that haven’t been raised. Excited about sharing the features and benefits of their product or service.

Of course, the problem with talking too much is buyers feel they aren’t being heard. They don’t or can’t connect with you, your company, your product or service.

When your mouth is running it is difficult for them to grasp the real benefit of your offering because they’re overwhelmed with information and no time to process.

And, the truth is, they don’t really care about most of the stuff you’re telling them. They only care about what’s in it for them.

Three Silence is Golden Tips for Speaking Less and Listening More

Pause for Two Beats

Take a two-second pause after the buyer has spoken before responding or speaking again. In that short space (it will seem like an eternity) of mentally counting “One-one thousand, two one thousand”…the buyer will often share even more information.

An immediate response or reply can stall or short-change a conversation. This happens because one of the seller feels an immediate and overpowering need to fill any dead air.

Ask Them to “Tell You More”

Buyers are so used to being interrupted they seldom tell you the whole story. They’ll answer your question or provide some insight about where they are at in the sales cycle, but there’s usually more they’ll share if you prompt them.

After a buyer shares something important encourage them to tell  you more.

Follow up questions can increase the likeliness of learning more. Some of my personal favorites are;  “Why is that?” “And then what happened?” or  “Can you tell me more about that?”

Never Interrupt

As obvious as this seems it still remains one of the most frequent transgressions in sales.  In addition to being rude and putting you in a bad light it disrupts the buyer’s train of thought. Something important you need to know or learn will get missed.

Never forget the important lesson that my sales manager taught me: In sales, silence is golden.


Sales EQ Training arms sellers with the skills required to communicate effectively and build deeper relationships with customers. Learn more about Sales EQ training here. 

About the author

Les Lent

Les Lent

Les Lent is a Sales Trainer, Coach, Consultant, and holds 20 years experience as…

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