An indecisive prospect will often tell you, “I need to think about it.” What do you do in this situation? All too many salespeople say, “Okay, why don’t you give it some thought, and we’ll talk again next week.”
When your prospect says, “I need to think about it,” what are they really saying? Are they going to think about something in particular? Do they even know what to think about? Perhaps the presentation was so overwhelming, they don’t even know where to start!
The next time you hear “I need to think about it,” think about this: if you take the path of least resistance and take the stated objection literally, you’ll either unnecessarily lengthen the sales cycle or you’ll lose the sale entirely. The minute you leave the room and you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind. So, what should you say when faced with such an open-ended objection?
Ideally, you’ll find a way to get your prospect to do at least most of their “thinking” while you’re still physically present to help guide the process. Here are four simple questions you might ask your prospect that would allow you to continue the discussion… and perhaps even land an affirmative decision before you leave the meeting:
- “How do you mean that?” This is a polite way of asking your prospect what exactly they need to think about in order to come to an affirmative decision. They may tell you what it is specifically that they have reservations about, and you can use this information to propose a solution to his concerns. If you find the prospect still floundering to provide an explanation of their reluctance, proceed to question #2.
- “Are you more interested in thinking about the savings we’ve been discussing or the costs of attaining them?” Giving a couple possibilities will guide your prospect to agreeing with one or both of your suggestions… or open the door to a totally different concern that has your prospect stalled in the decision-making process.
- “What are you feeling?” Ultimately, people are driven more often by emotion than by reason. Even in the context of expense-reducing capital projects, decisions are often made emotionally and then justified financially. Therefore, when a person says, “I need to think about it,” what they really may be saying internally is, “It just doesn't feel right yet.” If you ask your prospect what they’re feeling, it might be just enough to push them over the edge – to get them to turn off the verbal filter. They may say in response, “Well, honestly, I’ve never had much luck getting capital projects approved around here,” or “I don’t want to go to capital budgeting and ask them for anything – last time they made me produce a mound of proposal-related paperwork and projections. I wasted six months of my life trying to put solar panels on this roof and they still wouldn’t let me do it. And frankly, I don't know if I have the stamina to stand in front of them and our board again to defend any proposal, even if it would save the company a boatload of money.” Now you know that they’re unwilling to endure what they experienced last time to get a new project approved. In this case, move on to question four.
- “How can I help?” No one is going to throw a rock at you for offering to help. Your prospect may say, “Well, if you can help me construct a more compelling pitch than what I had to work with last time, I’d be willing to give it a shot.” Who knows, by helping your prospect refine an attention-grabbing elevator pitch, one-page proposal, and one-page financial summary, you might empower them to work more effectively with their colleagues in the future and get a lot more than your project approved!