The Most Powerful Sales Technique in the World

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I’m about to reveal to you a sales technique that will make you more money, close you more deals, and bring you more sales opportunities than any other sales technique that I know of. If you master its usage and can bring the emotional and mental discipline to bear to use it, you will profit. It’s that simple.


Shut up

Shut up.

Yes, that’s the technique. Shut up. I have seen more salespeople lose deals or carve themselves into unprofitability from nervous speech than from any other sales technique failure. Marketers are especially bad at not shutting up. Once you’ve shared some information that should provoke a reaction, learn to keep your speech turned off  (and I say that because it includes text chat, email chains in your inbox, replies on Facebook, and conversations on the phone and in person) and wait for the reaction.

Why shut up? Because people think and process at different speeds. I’ve sat through sales presentations of mediocre salespeople that are literal 25 minute marathons of speech, uninterrupted. No chances for questions, conversation, or thinking, just a long run and a hope that by the end, the prospect is ready to buy. Rarely ever works out that way.

Why do we do this to ourselves? One of our failures as content generators, as content creators is the mistaken belief that we need to be providing speech as content all the time to keep a prospect engaged. Nothing could be further from the truth, but constant content seem like something we should be doing because of our online culture. Sometimes it’s from nervousness or a sense of awkwardness, but more often I think it’s from a sense that we should be constantly providing content as speech.

Here’s the even more secret flip side: if you master the ability to shut up and wait for the other person to say something, chances are their own nervousness at uncomfortable silence will provoke them into saying something first, and then it’s your game.

So how do you shut up? How do you subdue that sense of awkwardness, anxiety, and discomfort that comes from silence in a world that is anything but? Everyone will have their own methods that work best with them. My favorite that I picked up from my sales training days is to have an earworm stuck in your brain that you can invoke when needed. This song and video will buy you 5 minutes, 7 seconds of silence, more than enough to win any deal. Just replay it in your head:

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The bonus of something funny like this video is that it will put a smile on your face as you replay it and enjoy it. Instead of playing a virtual or real staring game with sweat pouring down your face, you can mentally relax yourself in the middle of a meeting and reset any anxiety you’ve built up.

Learn the power of shutting up, and you’ll have an advantage that very few people are prepared to deal with.

And with that, I’ll shut up and let you talk in the comments.

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11 responses to “The Most Powerful Sales Technique in the World”

  1. Fantastic! There are so many times when I’ve wanted to kick somebody on the table to get them to shut up and give the other guy a chance to respond. They say the first rule of sales is Ask for the Sale but I think that’s the second rule. The first rule is to shut up long enough for the other guy to talk. Extra credit if you listen while you’re shutting up.

  2. I once made a sales call with my boss to a new client prospect. Other than introductions and basic pleasantries, the two of us said nothing while the prospect talked non-stop for an hour. At the end of his talk, he stopped and said “you guys are the smartest guys we have met” and gave us his business.

  3. This is so true. I have seen this technique taken even further in that even when you do finally talk you still don’t say anything. An example in the area of pricing. Instead of telling a renter that their rent is going up x amount, explain that it has been some time since the rent was raised and it is time. Ask the renter suggest an amount they can live with. Each time the renter has suggested an amount larger than was expected. I have heard stories from others doing this and done this myself.

    The power of shutting up and listening is immense. Asking for the buyer/renter to suggest an amount avoids losing the sale/renter, makes them feel involved and implies trust, makes you seem fair and in most cases earns you more than expected financially too. And of course if they say something stupid you can just raise the rent the old-fashioned way. I have never had to do that though. If you pick the right situations this can be a very useful approach.

  4. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched someone testify on a bill in a legislative committee, win over the panel members to his position and then…keep on talking long enough to say something that turns the tide against him. Great advice, Chris. You’ve go to know when to Shut Up!

  5. That gets ten times harder when you’re selling through written word. Like you said, Chris, we feel like we have to constantly provide the content. Waiting for that reaction can feel like the world’s longest, most awkward lull in conversation.

  6. Sherman Rockwell Avatar
    Sherman Rockwell

    So smart and support one sales truism: We there’s a deal going down, the first one to speak loses.

  7. Good point! I once took a public speaking class and our professor stressed the importance of silence in any kind of speech. Unlike other professors who would lecture the entire time without pause, this professor would include long pauses in her lectures so students could reflect and internalize the information. We would then be more prepared to discuss and synthesize the information we received.

  8. Great video and even better reminder. As you know, shutting up is not my strength. That being said, as I’m doing more sales (again), I’m finding enormous value in speaking for a bit, then checking in* with the person on the other end – asking questions, ensuring that we are on the same page. The worst thing you can do in a sales call is blab for 15 minutes then take a break and the person says “Wait. What did you just say?” Or “That’s not really at all what I asked.”

    The key is those “check-ins.” My old boss at my last job called them “trial closes.” Questions like, “Assuming that we could get the pricing in line with your expectations, is there anything else that would prevent you from becoming a new client?” The idea is to get them talking. It’s kinda like the advice one would give on a (first) date.

    Ok. Now it’s my turn to shut up. Is anyone listening anyway?

    *Sometimes I’ll also pause/check-in to see if AT&T dropped my call.

  9. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

  10. Thank-you, Christopher! I have done this far too often – you sell it, then buy it back.

  11. Love the powerful video Christopher => you made the sale !!! ; )

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