Using Silence As an Effective Sales Tactic

Silent woman

One of the most under-discussed, yet powerful sales skills is the use of silence. In 1997, Steve Jobs was answering questions from developers at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference when one audience member took a shot at him. The first thing Jobs did was he took a pause, sat in silence, and thought... This pause gave him the time he needed to compose himself and come back with a thoughtful and remarkable response.

"Silence can be uncomfortable and awkward, but when used at the right moment, it can give massive advantages."

For sales, this undervalued skill is incredibly useful. You can use silence to do the following:-

1. Get a response

Sales should be about the buyer and their business, not about the salesperson and their product or service. To ensure the buyer gets exactly what they want out of a sales meeting, sellers should fall silent after explaining a point or presenting a certain argument. Silence can unearth more information from your prospects who seem averse to sharing or divulging. After you ask a question, be quiet, and listen to your prospect’s response.

However, on the phone, this may feel like an eternity. In an attempt to fill the silence, your prospect may feel compelled to keep answering your questions and will likely give you more useful information.

2. Close a sale

Silence allows you to close. When you ask for an order, ask and then be quiet. Too often people ask for an order and then immediately gabble on about why, when, how, etc. You should not ask for an order until you know you can provide real value to your customer, and when you know you can, then ask, and wait.

A salesperson must be prepared to remain silent after asking the closing question. The very best salespeople are masters in the use of silence during the selling conversation. Not only are they extremely good at listening to the customer and absorbing what he is saying, but they are also skilled at remaining perfectly quiet after they have asked the closing question.

3. Break disengagement

Sometimes when you are pitching to a prospective client you may realize that he is zoning out. Hold your message in quiet stillness for a few seconds and once your silence has accomplished its goal, touch base with your prospect and ask if you're still on the same page or if there is anything he may want you to clarify.

A common error during selling is self-absorption with one's agenda. We tend to be more interested in what we have to sell, at the expense of not listening to the prospect. This can put off people and cause them to lack concentration.

4. Let prospects comprehend your offer

A prospect who understands the solutions that your offer brings is more likely to buy than one who is confused or lacks knowledge. If your closing statement is met with silence it could mean two things - either the prospect is thinking about it or has rejected the offer. Your silence will therefore give him time to think through and hopefully move from rejection to a purchase. If you keep on talking and talking you will interrupt his thought process.

When your prospect also asks you a difficult question, take time to comprehend the question and develop a more complete, well-thought answer that completely covers all aspects of your prospect’s question.

5. Negotiation skill

During a negotiation, silence can provide you with a powerful tool that will help you get what you want. One of the most critical times for you to employ this tool is immediately after you have presented your value proposition to your prospect. You do not want to find yourself blabbering and contradicting yourself.

This is equally useful even when your prospect has presented an offer to you. It is at this time that you pause and take a deep breath as you ponder, digest, and engage your mind before answering.


Silence is an incredibly underrated and underused tactic in sales. It is a powerful tool that can help you gain more information, take control of discussions, think about your answers in a better way and deliver better pitches.

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