Should I let you think it over?
Even if you have only been a salesperson for one day you have probably heard this from a prospect: “I need to think about it” or “I want to think it over.” It’s almost like the retail kneejerk reaction to “Can I help you?” “No, thanks. I’m just looking”
Why do prospects say things like that? After all you may feel you have heard answers to your probing questions which established the buyer's need for your product or service? And to top it all you know you have given a compelling benefit filled presentation that has linked their need to your solution. On the terms you are offering it is surely a no-brainer?
Why do so many prospects need more time to make up their minds?
Some prospects simply need the right kind of nudge and they will buy. Of course there are some prospects that never had the intention, or the authority to make a buying decision in the first please so simply trying to get rid of you. There are those that genuinely do have a more complex decision making process within their organisation so they do have to consult with others or go through various steps to ensure they fulfil their responsibilities. Some individuals don’t like making on the spot decisions when it means parting with hard earned cash, and some who simply want to avoid making any kind of decision ever…
Be warned 60% of the time, or more, people will stay with the status quo; that is, make no decision even taking the various scenarios above into account. Unless there is a burning platform of their side you may be facing this default inertia.
Officially this is a stall and not an objection
What confuses many salespeople is how to handle this non-descript objection. Well the good news is you cannot. Why is that good news? You cannot handle this objection because it is a stall not an objection. If that is all the prospect has said – I want to think about it / I will get back to you – there is no question or concern to answer, they are not being open about what is going on in their mind or about what they really intend to do next, they are blanking you.
Rapport and empathy are key
Whatever the cause for the stall, handling it isn't a science, it's an art. The art is in helping the customer see that you truly accept and understand their right to hesitate or slow the buying momentum now. You have to show patience and understanding, on your face, in your voice and in what you say next. It is vital that you acknowledge that you heard them and provide some reassurance that you consider this a normal valid response that you are OK with.
You might say something like: Mr. Prospect, that’s a good idea. No important decision should be rushed.”
Your behaviour and words need to get the prospect to relax a little so that he or she can be more open with you when you ask some questions.
Stop any form of telling or closing, this is a time for opening your ears and asking questions. It is time to politely probe behind the stall, to start a new conversation and draw them out. Only once you have their real concerns, their real questions or find out about the internal hurdles they previously not mentioned can you make progress.
Ask, in a warm, friendly curious tone of voice: “Mr. Prospect obviously you have a good reason for wanting to think it over. Tell me what is on your mind?”
Or: “Mr. Prospect I want you to feel 100% comfortable before going ahead, so what do you and I have to discuss first before you’d feel 100% confident?”
Or: “Taking on a new supplier is a big commitment. Typically, what type of criteria do you use to judge a proposal of this kind?
Be patient and silent
Remain calm, warm and perfectly silent while you wait for his answer. In many cases, he will think about it for a few seconds, often working out if he trusts you to be open. Prospects like to buy but they do not like to be sold or told. If he believes you are going to bounce and twist his arm, then you are unlikely to hear an answer, if you do it will not be a truthful one.
If the rapport and trust is there then he will give you his real concern or be open about the official steps he has to go through first. He will finally tell you what is really on his mind. He will tell you the real reason why he was thinking of hesitating.
Probe for more
BEFORE you answer the new question or concern, confirm there is nothing else preventing a sale. Probe for the WHY behind his WHAT. Ask things like, “What do you mean, exactly? Why do you say that? Why do you feel that way? Apart from that what else do we need to discuss?”
Provided there is nothing else major and if you can satisfy him on this final conditions, then you can go on to conclude the sale.
Genuine need for more time
Occasionally what comes out is that you missed a more complex decision making process or the fact more people are involved in the decision making process; or the prospect hid those facts. Either way they will need to “think about it”
The key here is to test the validity and their level of interest by asking for a follow up meeting, face-to-face or a telephone appointment, something that have to commit to now that will happen unless they cancel it. If they agree to a time slot for a follow up conversation, then they are being real. Accept their commitment gracefully.
If they won’t then you may have a lost cause on your hand. If people won’t be real with you, then you are better off moving on to another prospect. Secure what follow up actions you can and move on to your next prospect.
When you hear any typical stall, remain polite and calm, help the prospect relax by slowing down and even packing up to leave. Stop telling and closing instead be curious, ask polite probing questions and when you are 100% sure you’ve got to the truth then move to close.
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