On this episode of Sales Management Mastery we teach you how to use silent might to empower you sales leadership with 5 powerful techniques

The longer I used to talk to my salespeople, typically the more silent I would actually become.

This is not usually what sales managers do, and I certainly didn’t start out that way. I was always very much interested them in telling them how much I knew, and I wanted to direct them and lead them in the right direction, so instead of listening to them, I would typically not listen to them and just go on with my own agenda and what I thought that they should do in any particular sales situation.

I quickly learned that some of the best sales managers in the world do the exact opposite. That’s what this show here today is all about; silent might

If talking to your sales people about company strategies or goals, or interviewing your sales people, it’s more important to ask the right questions, than to wait patiently to get the right revealing sort of answers. Trying not to interrupt toward the end of the conversation, when they may let down their defenses and really tell you exactly what the situation is about. It helps you to discuss this critical, sensitive information.

We are going to give you 5 different techniques to use silent might to empower your sales people and enhance your own leadership.

#1 Convey your concern

When you are upset, you usually scold, lecture or yell. At least that is what most people do when they get upset. But try silence instead. You’ll find that a deliberate pause makes others understand that you are annoyed. By showing some silence and blurting out an answer and letting it get the best of you. Showing silence and letting them continue on with whatever they are discussing is a great way to show concern so that they air out their grievance whatever the situation may be.

#2 Build trust

If you are always looking for chances to interrupt or talk over people, they may figure out that you are not interested in their comments at all. Keeping quiet can signal that you’re attentive and sensitive to others’ needs.
During my sales performance appraisal, I will typically allow time to be silent and let them share what they think about the performance appraisal or work contact form. This way they can air out their concerns and talk about things that are specific to them. The only way to do this is and to find out what is on their minds, is to stay silent, and you will also build trust at the same time.
By being quiet, you give them an opportunity to express their opinions at their own pace.

#3 Demonstrate your curiosity

Silence is a good indicator of a well thought out response, instead of just shooting from the hip, because it carries more weight. That way you able to remain silent and stay patient, and it makes others realize that you intend to listen to them.
Demonstrate your curiosity and draw more out of whatever the situation is , a sales call, a sales strategy, a year end performance appraisal, any sort of given situation between yourself and your sale managers this is great opportunity to demonstrate your curiosity and at the same time underscore and reinforces your leadership.

#4 Act as a sounding board

If someone shares a tough decision that he or she is facing, your tendency is to rush in and give advice, and that is not always what the speaker really wants to hear. Silence shows that you are not trying to solve the problem necessarily. And not by saying anything, you can give someone the empathy that they are looking for. You relieve yourself of always having to come up with an answer as well.
They may figure out the answer to issue by continuing to talk. So act as a sounding

#5 Illicit input

When you ask questions, purge yourself of your discomfort if you don’t get a prompt response. Some people need a few seconds to think about things before they speak. I would usually start my meetings by asking lots of questions and then keeping quiet. Some of my best meetings that I ever had were when I had talked very little and the group talked a tremendous amount. People will start talking once you give them the opportunity and you remain silent. That gets us to a more open discussion. One of the best sales meeting that I ever had was when I had no slides, no agenda, just a wall chart with a bunch of magic markers and I said, “obviously there are some issues here, tell me what it is that is most concerning to you and then let’s have an open discussion on how we can collectively solve that particular problem.

Obviously me being the leader, I would help spearhead the solutions. This conversation turned from a bitch session, which I think most sales people are bound to, so make sure that you monitor this very carefully and make sure that it doesn’t turn into just a gripe session. “Gripes go up”, as Tom Hanks said in “Private Ryan”, they don’t go down, so listen to the grip from your sales people, because often behind some of the gripping you will find opportunity.

Another great thing to do as a silent sales manager, at the top of the agenda, say, “okay, you can make any complaint, and make any gripe, but there is one rule, you have to come up with at least one solution.” That way you let yourself off the hook, but also your sales people will come up with some very good solutions to issues, some may not be realistic, but there might be ideas that you have never thought of. Open discussions are tremendous ways to get resolution and creative solutions to problems that you and your sales force are facing, but also it reinforces your ability to be a silent leader.

A great example of silent leadership is from James O’Tooles’ book, “Leadership A – Z”. He talks about Michael Eisner and how he would use silent leadership and questioning to lead the remarkable transformation of Disney Corporation. The Disney that we think of now is this mammoth media power house. But there was a time, twenty or so years ago, when Disney was just an old, aged, not very fresh corporation with an aging library of movies from the 50’s and 60’s. It was not the media powerhouse that it is today.

The man that was responsible for that transformation was Michael Eisner. He used a tremendous amount of silent leadership not only to turn around the corporation but to spurn and foster new ideas. Michael Eisner and his team had formed a design team to find out if either of these attractions could be turned into theme parks that made money.

The design team did all sorts of research for months and months, and they made a large presentation to Eisner. And Eisner listened carefully, and then asked each of the team members question after question. After he did it, it was clear to everyone in the group that he didn’t have any preconceived notion of what the park would look like, but he put himself in the shoes of his potential customers. What would they get for their money? How much would they spend in the park? Would they have lunch in the park? Would they make a return visit? All typical questions that he wanted to find out to determine if people would go to either of their places. Is this going to be a money-making venture for Disney?

Eisner grilled the team until they had realized that they weren’t as far along in their thinking as they had thought because he started to poke holes in their preconceived notions of what either one of these attractions could do for the Disney Corporation.

The team back to the drawing board but they had a slightly tighter deadline that he put them on to find out if they would exercise the options that they had on these properties.

A month later, they came back, and returned in front of Eisner. As he queried them, a consensus grew and built among the team members that they didn’t think that any their ideas could float. They eventually decided not to move forward on these lease options on either one of these properties. They still sit in Los Angeles to this day.

One of the people in the group said, “basically because of Eisner’s questioning and his long pauses and long silences, we finally got the answer to the basic questions that there was no way in hell that anyone could make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear!” As I said, Disney passed on the option.

Let’s look at why this is an example of silent leadership.

During the entire process, Eisner never issued a command, he never barked out an order, he never raised his voice, never badgered or punished or threatened anybody. He didn’t invent the strategy, he didn’t contribute any usable ideas all that he used was silence and questions in order to get his team to come to a conclusion so that it would be the best decision possible.

In this particular case it was to pass on the option.

It could be said, that because of his questioning and silence, he led that effort and led it brilliantly, because he created the conditions for his team to do their best work effectively.

Instead of investing millions of dollars, and finding out later on that it was a money losing venture, they passed on the offer because of his silent leadership.

This brings up a good point, you as a sales leader, do not need to know all of the answers, but you do need to know a lot of the questions. And when you ask those questions, stay silent, so that you can let you sales people give you the ideas and the fuel to create solutions and create more opportunities for enhanced sales. So that together you can lead your company and increase your revenues using the ideas from these feedback sessions.

Just like Michael Eisner did in determining whether the Spruce Goose and the Queen Mary could potentially be entertainment venture for Disney, you can do the same thing for your sales team.

To review

#1 Convey your concern
When you are upset, try silence instead. A deliberate pause often makes others understand that you are annoyed, but you are not coming out and saying that you’ve lost your cool, or that you are angry. It is a very powerful way to convey your concern.

#2 Build trust
If you are always looking for chances to talk over people, keeping quiet is an attentive and respectful way to draw out what others are thinking.

#3 Demonstrate your curiosity.

You’ll find that silence is an indicator of a well thought out response.
If you typically shoot from the hip and blurt out answers for whatever issues there are, you may not get much feedback from your audience. Demonstrate your curiosity and it will help your people your people come to their own conclusions as you guide them in the process.

#4 Act as a sounding board

If someone shares a tough decision that they are facing, by not saying anything you can give someone the empathy that they are looking for and you can relieve yourself of having to come up with the answers on your own.

#5 Illicit input

When you ask questions, rid yourself from the discomfort if you don’t know what the direct response is.
Some people need a few seconds to thing before they speak. Eventually people will start talking and that will lead to a more open discussion.

Use these 5 techniques in order to become a silent sales leader

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