What would telephone selling be like without a daily dose of “Let me think about it?”
Probably much easier and much less frustrating. But since the objection is not going to go away any time soon perhaps now is a good time to look at some ways to tackle it.
Is it Real?
When a prospect says “let me think about it”, is he telling the truth? Some prospects toss out this classic objection because they simply want to get rid of you. They say it, not because they mean it, but because it is a polite method of getting you off the line. The trouble is, if you are not savvy to this brush off, you can waste a lot of time and energy following up with e-mails and phone calls.
On the other hand, some prospects really DO need time to think about it. Some need time to ponder their options while others like to simply digest the information to ensure that they do not make a snap decision. The challenge here is that if you are a cynical sales rep who has heard the objection time and time again, you may not take the prospect seriously and fail to follow up and hence, lose the opportunity.
So how do you tackle this devilish objection? Here are four approaches.
#1: Say Nothing
Here’s how it works: when they tell you they want to think about it, say nothing.
That’s all there is to it. Just wait patiently.
Silence over the telephone creates a vacuum and most prospects get uncomfortable with the silence. After two or three seconds, most feel the compelling need to fill the void with words. You will be absolutely amazed at how well this technique works as long as you can discipline yourself to hold your tongue for a few seconds.
Typically, the client will elaborate on the “let me think about it” objection and this often uncovers the real objection. For example, they might explain that they have to speak to their boss or their partner. Suddenly you discover another player in the game. They may reveal that they are looking at other proposals and now you know you are in a competitive situation. Or they may simply not be interested at all. In any event, you have more information upon which to base your next step.
#2: I am Not Sure I Understand
This is a powerful response to the objection. When the client explains that she would like to ‘think about it’ pause for a second or so and then slowly say, “I am not sure I understand.” The trick here is delivery. Be subtle and use the tone of your voice to show surprised confusion, not belligerence. Do not utter a word. Let silence do its work. When the prospects hear the confusion in your tone they almost automatically feel the compelling need to ‘come to your rescue’ and elaborate further on their hesitancy.
#3: Give Them the Time and Get a Commitment
Another approach is to grant them the time but put a time limit on their pondering. For example,
Prospect: “Well, let me think about it.”
Rep: “I understand completely, Ms. Thomas. A decision like this needs some time. And what I would like to recommend is that I give you a call next week to get your thoughts and to determine the next steps. How does Wednesday at 8:45 look on your calendar?”
If the prospect accepts the recommendation the objection is probably legitimate. The client needs time for whatever reason. You know this because she has agreed to a specific time and date. It shows commitment. Again, the key is to not only get a follow up date but also a specific time.
This approach is very non-threatening and is perfect for prospects who legitimately want more time. They will appreciate your courtesy and understanding. This is why you deliberately empathize with the prospect by saying you “understand.” These types of prospects do not like being cajoled or pressured. If you push too hard, they will say no to your offer because they do not like you and your ‘aggressive’ approach. Your offer could be extremely valuable and well priced but these prospects value trust and relationship more.
If the prospect balks at your first suggestion, try another date and time and see if they positively respond. If they balk again, ask when would be a good time and date. If they cannot make a commitment chances are they are brushing you off and your time is probably better spent elsewhere.
#4: Probe for Legitimacy
Here are some techniques to determine the legitimacy of the objection. Begin by empathizing with the prospect and then gently ask a question to get the prospect to clarify. For example,
Prospect: “Let me think about it.”
Rep: “I understand completely. If I were sitting where you are now I’d probably want to think about it too. If I may, one quick question:”
“what concerns so you still have? Or
“what’ is causing you to hesitate?” Or
“what is your number concern about not proceeding further?” Or
“what will your final decision will be based upon?”
This type of probing gets the prospect to open up and to help you determine if the objection is real or otherwise.
#5 The Level With Me Response
One of the best ways to deal with this objection is to ask the prospect to be completely candid with you. Here is how it works:
Prospect: “I’d like to think about it.”
Rep, “Fair enough. But John, we’ve spent a bit of time reviewing your situation and there seems to be a good fit. Please level with me, “What’s holding you back?”
The technique has a few things going for it. Note the use of the prospects name. It is used deliberately to create a bond of familiarity. It also gets the prospect to listen more closely. Next, the rep points out that a “bit of time” was used up and the implication is that the rep is at least owed an explanation. In addition, the rep uses a colloquial expression – level with me- which in effect, is saying to the prospect ‘hey, no games here, let’s be honest with one another.’ Finally, there is the use of good old fashioned politeness when the rep uses the word ‘please.’ It is a wonderful approach.
Don’t let your prospect off the hook when you hear this objection. Try one of these five techniques and see how they work for you.