If you're hoping for temporary relief from those irritatingly persistent salespeople from XYZ Corp., try this old standard out: "I'm not sure I'm ready to move ahead, I'll need some time to think it over. Give me a call in a week or so." Unfortunately, it's certain you and your salespeople have been on the wrong end of that sentence. And every time you hear it, you fall victim to the biggest time-waster plaguing sales organizations everywhere.
It's the old put off - indecisive behaviour - "think about it." Why do we encounter it so much? Well, many prospects think it's the easiest way to get rid of you so they can focus on more immediate priorities. Some well-meaning buyers just hate to say no. But most of all, salespeople have a problem asking prospects to make a decision during sales presentations, largely because we don't want to hear no. So, we permit prospects to drag us through the purgatory of alternating hope and despair. And even though 95 per cent of prospects who "think about it" never result in any business, human nature compels us to hang on in hopes that, this time, things will finally go our way.
The end result: we waste valuable resources waiting for a sale that isn't going to happen. It takes forever to get a prospect who is "thinking about it" to finally say "no," which means we are wasting valuable time and selling resources. The "slow no" gives us a false sense of security and creates an artificially inflated forecast.
True, we must learn how to respond to prospects who always want to "think it over." Even better though, we can learn how to stop the indecisiveness from occurring in the first place. If your prospect is not convinced of a strong, compelling reason to buy today, then they will put you off indefinitely in favour of priorities that have more immediate impact on their business and personal situation. So why not get to "no" in the first place?
Here's how to get your prospects to make a decisive yes or no decision.
It's critical that your customer understands they always have two distinct and equal choices at every meeting:
1. To work with you creating the next steps in the process; or,
2. To end the process, and walk away.
It is critical that you let your prospect know that you are comfortable with either choice, but that "think about it" is not an acceptable option. To do this effectively you must start every sales interaction (phone or in person) with the following steps:
1. Gain agreement with the prospect that at the end of the meeting you will together decide on the best course of action.
2. At the end of the meeting, you and the prospect decide to move the process forward, or end the conversation because there is no fit. Gaining this commitment from your prospect at the beginning of the meeting will ensure the customer is comfortable telling you "no" and will not feel compelled to string you along.
3. Ask questions to understand why your prospect wants to continue the process. Have them convince that there is a reason for your continued engagement.
You prospect can decide to "think about it" or be indecisive at any stage in the sale, so don't make the mistake of thinking it will only come when you ask for the order. If you're having any doubts that there's a good reason for the two of you to do business together, tell the prospect, suggest to them that you think there is no business fit and be prepared to walk away from the deal. If getting "no" early means you have time freed up to spend on real deals, deals that are going to happen, it may be the most profitable answer you could get!
About the Author:
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.