Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Sweat Down

You've all had the pleasure of meeting Weymon, so now I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to my SE, Michael. He's 5ft 10 in tall, bald, and might be a little overweigth. No one makes me laugh so hard as Michael does with his crude humor and childish antics. If you met him, you would never expect him to be so funny because his shyness would get in the way. But over time, as he warmed up to you, he'd become one of those friends who makes too much information seem like an understatement.
Picture the two of us across a big wooden desk that fills a relatively small office. This is my second sales experience with Weymon and I am asking him to sign off on another six figure project. This time I've taken the time to make sure there are no errors in the proposal. I've also taken his cue from our previous meeting and included a discount on the pricing page. We are talking amongst ourselves when Weymon comes in, proposal in hand, and sits across from us.
He says, "I've taken a look at your proposal. No errors this time, I see."
Me, "I did triple check it."
Michael, under his breath is calling me a monkey at this point.
Weymon stops, "I see you've included a discount on this proposal. Is this the best you can do?"
I look across at Weymon and without hesitation say, "Yes, Weymon, I got that discount approved for you. It is the best I can do."
He sits there, transfixed on me, and suddenly I feel like I might be playing an unsolicited game of "blink". The room is silent. The room is silent. Did I mention, that the room is STILL silent?
Michael is sweating. His face is turning red and his hands are gripping the chair. I am twenty four years old and don't know what to do, so just sit there. Finally, Weymon breaks the silence. "Well, I guess this IS the best you can do. Alright, I'll get you a PO. Now git outta here."
I'll never forget that day. So many things were learned during that long silence. The biggest lesson learned: keep your mouth shut. Sometimes, you just have to be quiet. In this case, I didn't actually know what to say, so ignorance kept my mouth shut. Now, almost 15 years later, I still must remind myself of this lesson. We are so trained to respond with numbers, justifications, approved discounts, that we forget the value of silence.

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