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The Magic Moment

by Menzie Pittman • in
  • May 2019
  • Small Business Matters
• Created: May 7, 2019

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Let’s be honest: the music business is one made up of conversationalists and sales people. It is a marketplace of unusual buyers and sellers. As owners and managers, we must come to grips with the foreboding thought that we ourselves are the product, and, therefore, always selling ourselves every moment of the day. Once you sell yourself, selling music gear is cake because you have built customer trust.

This all takes place in an environment where customers not only judge us on what we say, but they also judge us on how we say it, and that truth certainly presents us with a daunting reality.

In addition, in sales everyone carries the burden of always having to appear to be “on.” And when we engage our customers, we always want to be prepared and ready to say the right things in any and all conversations. But the reality is that no one is naturally “on” all the time, and saying the right thing sometime takes a second to consider.

The Magic Moment

One practice I have learned to use over the years is to incorporate the “Magic Moment.” The magic moment is knowing when not to speak and knowing what not to say. It is the idea of letting silence do the work. It is a chance to pause and say the most productive thing instead of the most obvious thing.

Putting the Theory to the Test

Recently a potential adult student came in and spoke with me about taking lessons. She was excited by the idea of learning and happy that she had found a credible source to teach her. Oddly, she seemed eager to share that she had been mistakenly lured into taking a trial lesson from another area competitor, but she found it unsatisfying for a few different reasons that she was also glad to mention. So, here’s lesson number one in embracing the “magic moment:” don’t get pulled into the fool’s game of trash talking the competitor.

It’s low-hanging fruit, and it demonstrates a complete lack of grace, and worse yet, it gains you nothing. Take a page from my grandmother’s book. When the potential customer verbalizes his or her dissatisfaction and mentions your competitor’s name, pause, raise your eyebrows, and say, “I am sorry to hear that. Let’s see if we can get your situation fixed, and get you learning to play.” Put the focus of the conversation back on your business. The magic moment is the pause right before you speak. The pause shows that you have elected not to speak poorly of your competitor. The silence is very loud and does the talking for you. The eyebrows add a touch of Groucho-style marketing for a dramatic effect.

Think of the magic moment as the space between the notes in a piece of music. Isn’t that what makes the music magical? If great musicians understand this, great communicators and businessmen should too. Another use of the “Magic Moment” can occur when some part of your business is turbulent. Perhaps, as the owner or manager, you are dealing with another professional.

The Magic Moment works here, too. When you have been in the business a long time, generally you have had many experiences, both good and bad. That truth can make you quick-tongued. It can also make your quips sting unproductively. Every owner or manager I have ever met is capable of a fast, stinging response whose velocity can knock someone over.

The problem with fast and stinging is that it is generally considered mean-spirited. So, even though you feel vindicated, the damage from that approach can be long-lasting. Slowing the game down puts dignity back in the discussion. Sometimes if you interject an idea into your conversation with the client such as, “It’s an issue of core values,” that short, simple sentence can leave consideration in the discussion. The determination of right or wrong is now mute and left up to the individual. I should note here that catching your breath and not responding quickly or in a negative way, be it right or wrong, enables silence to be respected. It’s no different than a rest in a piece of music.

The Grand Pause is another term used in music that represents what I’m talking about. Whenever there is a dramatic pause – in a conversation or a piece of music or film – it creates tension and release. The tension enhances the drama, and the release brings relief. Think about it from the perspective of a kid asking his parents if he can have a sleep-over. Every parent hesitates before he speaks. He takes the time to consider before giving the answer.

In Closing

In today’s marketplace, it seems everyone wants to tell you how much he knows about everything. Today “opinion is king,” in a world where listening has become outdated. However, the best sales tools I know are focused engagement, attention, consideration, reflection, empathy, and suggestion. The color and tempo of how you interact with customers is where the playfulness comes in. Listen before you speak, and don’t hesitate to… pause and embrace the “Magic Moment.”

Menzie Pittman is the owner and director of education at Contemporary Music Center in Virginia (CMC). Following a performance and teaching career spanning more than 32 years, he founded CMC in 1989 and continues to perform, teach, and oversee daily operations. He has 50 years of musical experience as a drummer and drum instructor. Menzie is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center, and a freelance writer for MMR’s “Small Business Matters” column.

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