Unintended Consequences in Selling

For those of you that know me, recognise that I’ve always been on some sort of diet having struggled with my weight since I was 14. Just recently I changed a few things about my lifestyle and lost almost two stone in weight, now hovering around the 12.5 stone mark.

To maintain my weight, I now follow the 5:2 diet, which means for two days a week, you limit yourself to about 500 calories a day only. The rest of the week you can eat as normal, enjoying the more beautiful things in life.

There’s a strange unintended consequence of this diet. You train yourself to feel hungry; much of the time we’re eating because of habit. It’s lunchtime, so you reach for a sandwich. The day when I’m not fasting, I’m acutely aware when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m full. A crazy yet welcoming unintended consequence.

There’s plenty of these in sales. Last month, I was coaching some sales advisers who use the telephone to speak to customers. A couple of the team babbled – too speedy to comprehend what they were saying much of the time, so I gave them this feedback. “I’ve been told about that before” was the response and I struggle to change.

My next coaching advice is to keep the pace of the voice but to pause more deliberately:

  • After you’ve stopped talking, pause for a couple of seconds.
  • When the customer has stopped talking, pause for a couple of seconds.
  • In between your sentences, pause for a second or two

Don’t fill the silence, the customer may, and that’s the point. Pausing gives them time to digest what you’ve just said even if it was spoken rather quickly.

My salespeople did this well in their next coached call, but something bizarre occurred. They slowed down their voice as well. I don’t know why or care – this unintended consequence is very welcome.

In the same way, people struggle to control their eating, by asking them to fast for a day or so, makes them acutely aware of all that enters their mouth, and they cut down without trying.