Have you ever gone out shopping for something and run into a salesperson that was a little too eager to show you exactly what you were looking for? And maybe the pressure you got from the salesperson didn’t help you feel warm and fuzzy about the buying experience.
So what did you do? You extricated yourself from a potentially awkward situation with that salesperson by uttering the magic words: “I just need a little time to think it over.” It worked. You were free!
As selling professionals, we hear this all the time, don’t we? Surprise, surprise: It means the same thing when prospects say it to us as it does when we say it to other salespeople.
Let’s be brutally honest. “I need to think it over” is really a coded message from the prospect. When you take the time to decode it, here’s what you are really hearing: “No.”
Here’s an actual story about the “think it over” response. Jim, a selling professional, was proposing a fairly large project to a prospect.
Near the end of Jim‘s presentation, she said things like, “Gee, it looks interesting.” And: “we have a lot of interest in what you’re offering.” And: “you’ve done a great job today.” All of those remarks gave Jim a good feeling, a feeling that his sale was about to close.
Then she said: “Jim, let us get back to you next week. This looks really good but we need to think about it further.” She was very pleasant as she said that.
When Jim made it back to the office, he told his boss that the presentation had gone great, and that he expected a “yes” answer in a week or so, as she had promised to do.
But then she didn’t get back to him. Jim kept her on the active list for weeks, and kept projecting income from that deal. He spent a fair amount of time leaving voicemail messages and sending emails to her.
He even spent time setting up and emailing a revised proposal - based on zero feedback from her. That proposal generated no response.
Did Jim ever really have a sale? Your own experience should give you the answer!
After all, you’ve probably used “I need to think it over,” often enough to know that the odds were not on Jim’s side.
Whenever we hear this “think it over” response, we need to remind ourselves that, more than nine times out of ten, the answer is going to be “No” – but just like the customer in the retail setting the prospect doesn’t want to say the word “No” out loud. It’s too awkward.
As selling professionals, we need to be okay with that awkwardness. If it’s going to be a “No,” we are much better off figuring that out right up front. Even though, on an emotional level, we may not actually enjoy hearing those words. However, from a rational standpoint, it’s vitally important that we identify what is really happening in the relationship.
So when you hear “I need some time to think it over,” consider a different approach than the one Jim took. Maybe try planning your feet, professionally standing your ground, and being willing to say to the prospect what Jim should have said. “I’m not quite sure how to say this the right way, Dolores, but your decision not to make a decision really is a decision. That’s typically a “No” in my world. And I’m OK if you tell me that.”
He would have gotten a much clearer sense of where he actually stood… And he wouldn’t have spent precious time, effort, and energy pursuing a sale that was never going to happen.
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