Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Miller (the Miller in Miller Heiman) at a fireside chat. He spoke about a variety of topics, told some great stories (“how the blue sheet became blue“ among others) but what stands out in memory is the discussion about golden silence.
Bob articulated the process
ask a question
allow the client to answer
stay quiet, stay focused on the client and count to 10
listen to the client‘s second answer
and that was the magic for him, using the silence for the client to expand upon their first response. Most sales people will take the answer from the client and ask another question. But that pause, that silence, allows a second, deeper, more reflective response to your question which often is truly valuable to you to gain a better understanding of the need, problem, goal etc. (hence “golden”)
As a sales person I used this all the time. As a sales leader I worked with my team to practice it. As a leader I tried to employ golden silence as often as possible. As a coach it’s known as “holding the silence” but it’s the same principal; creating a space for the client / colleague / coachee to speak, pause, reflect and speak again.