“I Need to Think About It” Does Not Mean “No”

A couple years ago, I was sitting with a client who was reflecting with me on how much he’d grown as a salesperson in his business that year. This client works as a solo salesperson and has experienced a significant level of success. He was explaining an example of his personal growth when he shared a story with me about a meeting he had recently had with two business partners.

They had a wonderful authentic sales conversation, and when they got to the end of the conversation, he was about to ask for their payment information. However, the conversation came to an abrupt halt and one of the partners said in a short, gruff, unfriendly tone: “I need to think about it.”

Ordinarily, my client would have stopped and let the conversation go at that point. He would have walked away and likely would have lost the sale, thinking that this man’s tone and assertion that he needed to think about it were meant to be read as a “no.”

But this time, he knew better. He didn’t end the conversation. He knew the next step.

He leaned forward, smiled, and said, “Tell me more about that.”

He allowed the silence to fill the air as this prospect thought.

Finally, the the other business partner spoke up. “Well, he doesn’t want to work with your consultant, he wants to only work with you!” And just like that, the objection was uncovered! He promptly told them that was not going to be a problem, and the contract was signed with payment in hand.

As we were talking, my client said, “Just think of all of the opportunities I have walked away from because I wasn’t willing to ask more questions.”

It almost hurts to think about, doesn’t it? Thousands and thousands of dollars was left on the table that could have easily been swept up!

So how many opportunities have YOU walked away from because your prospect said that they just “needed to think about it”?

See, what I’ve seen and experienced in years of sales and sales coaching is this: Almost every time, “I need to think about it” means, “I need more information,” OR there is a hidden objection that simply hasn’t been shared yet.

The key to uncovering that hidden objection is to ask more questions.

In sales, always keep the conversation going until you get a “yes”, a “no”, or a next step with this prospect.

Now, the kinds of questions that you ask in this process matters a great deal! Asking “yes” or “no” questions will only get you so far. Furthermore, if you ask only “yes” or “no questions, your client can get in the habit of saying “no.”

The solution is to stick mostly with open ended questions. And as they answer your questions, you can decipher the gaps in their knowledge that need to be clarified.  For example:

  • “I feel like I missed something. Can you please tell me more?”
  • “What would it take for this to be a great fit for you?”
  • “What would make this a “no-brainer” for you?”

Then, wait. Be silent. Give them a moment to process, think, and respond. Actively listen to them. Ask clarifying questions if you need to so that they know you are listening. Sometimes, when you allow them to talk, they will arrive at the conclusion that what you are offering is exactly what they need, and they end up selling themselves.

But first you need to ask the questions.

Understand this: when your prospect says that they “need to think about it”, it’s your job as the sales person to read between the lines of their words and help them unpack what they are really saying and what they really mean. They are not going to do that job for you.

“I need to think about it” is not the same as a “no”, so don’t take it that way!

Unless they say “no”, the answer should not be assumed as such, and it certainly should not be the end of your interactions with them. Rather, it’s an invitation to dig further and find out what is really going on. Help them navigate the “thinking about it” process and you’ll be surprised at the results you get!

Don’t deny your prospect or client the opportunity to buy from you what they clearly need!

So how can you refine your sales conversation? Don’t be afraid to ask more questions! “I need to think about it” is not the same as “no” – so don’t let it stop you!


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