As a sales coach and trainer, it was important to teach key elements for successful results. The first element was to ask the right questions and discover the customer’s needs. The second was to develop trust. Once you have done all of your homework and you have funneled down to asking for a commitment, there’s one step that most sales associates forget. I call it “The Power of the Pause”.
In sales, we are driven to close the deal, solve the problem, and simplify the process for results. But we get so excited that we forget to stop. Stop talking. Stop working the angle. Stop formulating an answer to the objection and just listen, truly listen to hear what is being said. This is where the power of the pause can be impacting. It’s an opportunity to trust you have done all you can do to empower the customer up to this moment to make a logical decision. But it’s the space in time when you do nothing but wait. It can be maddening if you are not confident in all you’ve done up to this point.
The power of the pause can be seen across many life experiences. Waiting for the finalization of a divorce. Waiting for medical test results. Waiting for a response from a loved one. Waiting and realizing you can’t do anything to change the outcome.
In a divorce, it is much like the calm after the storm. You muscle through the turmoil and physical separation of two lives once entwined in what you thought would be forever. Now, you are waiting for the legal document that says you can move on with your new existence. You are not married, but you are not single either. In medical results, you have had tests and researched every avenue you can get your hands on. You aren’t diagnosed but you don’t have the clear bill of health either. In the waiting game for a loved one, you wait for a sign such as a text or email to receive a form of communication indicating life.
The Power of the Pause has been at work in my life. Recently I went through the steps to re-activate my physical therapy assistant license. Payments, character references, registration, research, and finally hours of studying to prepare for the four-hour exam that determines I am qualified to practice again. It takes 6-10 days to get the results.
I confess that the first few days were exhausting. It can be described much like the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel in the book of Genesis. Jacob wrestled until daybreak with the being that he named God. At daybreak, he asked to be blessed. The angel renames Jacob “Israel” which literally means “he who struggles with God.” (Genesis 32:22-32) My own fight is with fate as I recall vividly each question but hesitate on my confidence that I chose the best answer. I am changing the answers in my dreams and expend energy on forcing destiny’s hand to give me a positive result. Once I realize I cannot change the outcome, I mourn over the hours and dedication I invested in this event because I am preparing for the results to potentially be negative.
Then I pause. I cannot change my path. I gave 100% to the preparation. I do not have the power to change the result. I consider what I can possibly accomplish spinning “if only” over and over in my head. No. I will focus instead on asking myself, “What purpose can be served in the next 6-10 days of pause?” After all, there is no path, no plan, no closure, no identification, no forward motion, no title, just this abyss of space that is not good or bad.
The power of this moment is that it can be the perfect opportunity to learn how to sit. It can be when you learn to be with yourself during a time in which there is no label. This may when you learn to truly evaluate all of the good in yourself. Much like the sales associate listening to the customer, this may be when you listen to you. The results will come no matter what you do in the moment of pause. Until the results arrive, the bigger question that should be asked is “What do I need to hear in this quiet moment of pause?”