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This Trick Made Me $18,000 in 7 Seconds

This simple negotiating technique ensures that you get paid what you and your product are worth.

The first time I used this negotiating technique, I made $18,000 in seven seconds. Since then, I've used the technique about 20 times, increasing my lifetime income by at least $250,000.

Here's the trick: Keep your mouth shut.

The first time I did this was when I was offered a job at a Fortune 100 high tech firm. Here's how the telephone negotiation went:

  • HR Person: "The starting salary is $80,000."
  • Me: [7 seconds of very uncomfortable silence]
  • HR Person: "How does $83,000 sound?"
  • Me: That's fine for now.

Since I worked for that company for six years, that extra $3,000 turned into $18,000. Just for keeping silent for seven short seconds.

The reason this works is that people (like this HR person) often come into a final negotiation with a price range. Typically, they'll open with a number in the lower range.

When you just say nothing, though, it puts the other person in a panic:

  • "Did I insult him?"
  • "Was the number way too low?"
  • "Why isn't he saying anything?"

Eventually, the other person will up the offer to the higher number, if only to end the silence.

Is this manipulative? I guess so. But, frankly, I was worth the extra $3,000 and more. And it was in their budget.

I've used a modified version of this technique when selling my services as a ghostwriter. As with any B2B sales situation, the initial conversation consists of swapping ideas and devising an approach that's attractive to the buyer.

Eventually, though, the conversation gets around to how much I'm going to charge. When price comes up, I say something like: "What would be your budget for this?" or "What makes sense to you?"

And then I keep my mouth shut.

In almost every case, the client offers me more money than I was envisioning. In one case, I was quoted a figure 10 times higher than what I expected. Needless to say, I agreed.

Put simply, when it comes to selling, silence is truly golden.

Last updated: Jul 17, 2014


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

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