The magic of “Oh?”

Have you ever been at a complete loss of words after a client or prospect has said something so outrageous that at first you find it hard to believe they may have said it? Or have you ever gotten a question or a statement during your close that you just haven’t known how to answer? Or, have you ever reached the end of your presentation and asked for the order and your prospect said something that gave you no idea of what to do or say next?

If you’re in sales, then I know this has happened to you before. When it does, 90% of sales reps have no idea how to respond and they either freeze up or worse – they just keep pitching or talking over their prospect. Obviously both approaches are wrong, so what DO you do?

Years ago I learned a technique so simple, so powerful that the first time I tried it I couldn’t believe how effective it was. In fact, at first it was so simple that I found it hard to use! The magic of the technique isn’t just in the small word, but in what you do immediately afterwards. And here it is:

Whenever a prospect or client says something to you that you either don’t know how to respond to, or – and this is really important – if they give you an answer and you don’t have enough information from them to know which direction to go in or what to say next, then simply say:

“Oh?” And then immediately hit MUTE and listen…

OK, I know what you’re thinking – “Oh, Mike, that’s cheesy, it’s not going to work and they’ll probably say something like, ‘What did you say?’”

Do me a favor and put your skepticism on hold for a moment and try it. In fact, you don’t even have to take my word for it – try it for yourself and see how powerful this technique is.

What you’ll find is that as soon as you ask them, “Oh?” – and by the way, you have to use this with a questioning tone and really mean it like you’re confused and want and need to know more – and hit MUTE, it will be during that silence when your prospect or client will give you what I call, “The Gold.” In other words, they will almost always elaborate on what they really mean and it is this response that will finally tell you what direction you need to go to close the sale.

There was an old saying years ago in sales (by the way, I never fully endorsed it, but it sure was true) that the first one who talks loses. I agree that saying IS a little cheesy, but it does have some truth in it. You see, if you don’t know what the real objection is or how to answer an objection or stall, then if you talk over it, you WILL lose.

The magic of this technique is that your prospect or client will almost always give up the Gold. No matter what they say, the more they talk, the more you’ll learn. And the more you know, the more you’ll know how to proceed.

Again, don’t take my word for this. Instead, give yourself the week to try this technique and make sure and hit your MUTE button after you do. I guarantee you will benefit from it and one of the best parts is that it will teach you and your sales team how to start listening.

And listening is still the greatest skill any sales professional can possess.