Tired of hearing “I Need To Think About It”?
There’s nothing more frustrating for a small business owner than hearing a string of potential clients say “I need to think about it” at the end of your sales conversations.
And if you’re at a place where “I need to think about it” has become a phrase you are hearing more often than you’d like, this article is for you.
The first, and most important thing you need to get clear on is what “I need to think about” actually means when your client says it at the end of a sales conversation.
What they’re actually saying is usually one of three things:
- It’s a No, but I’m too polite to say “no” to you
What they’re saying here is: I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to talk to me, and I think you’re a very nice person but overall what you’ve told me hasn’t really convinced me and I don’t fully see the value in making this investment in what you say you can help me with… so I feel I need to think about it. In other words “I need to think about it” is actually a No. It’s just a very “polite” No. (Have you noticed how you rarely hear an actual “no” from a potential client?)
- There are concerns, worries or fears
Sometimes “I need to think about it” is “I really do think I want to do it, and when you were telling me about it I had this feeling inside that said Yes, but I’m not sure about the investment, it feels like a lot of money, so I’m not sure”, or “I’m worried that you’re going to ask me to do all this fancy diet stuff and I don’t know if I’ve got time”, or “My Mum is going into hospital next week so it might not be the right time to start”. So they are actually right on the cusp of going ahead, but there just needs to be a further conversation to help them through any of these natural concerns or resistance to going ahead.
- It’s part of their process
And sometimes “I need to think about it” is more process-oriented, as in “I need to check my bank account and see if I can afford it”, or “I need to just talk it through with my husband because the money is coming out of our joint account”, or “I actually think I’m going to do it but I need to sleep on it because I never make a decision like this on the spot”.
But how do you know?
Well, you don’t know – unless you ask them! So the secret, when you hear “I need to think about it”, is to simply ask them one more question. And that question is:
“Do you mind if I ask, what is it that you need to think about?”
“What is it specifically that you need to go away and think about?”
And the answer to that question will tell you everything about where the conversation needs to go next.
If their “I need to think about it” was really a polite No, they’re not going to be very open to that question. They will say something like “I just need to think about it. I’ve got to go” and the conversation will be shut down.
But if it was one of the other two categories, they’re actually going to tell you the truth: That might be “I think I want to do it but I’m worried about ‘xyz’, that it might not be the right time, or it seems like a lot of money.” or they might say “I think I really want to do it but I just need to figure out how I’m going to pay for it”.
Now you know where to go next. You will do either or both of:
1. Rescue the conversation
This is where you go into a deeper conversation about whatever is creating the concern or resistance. Maybe you just need to explain some part of your work in more detail, reassure them about something, or coach them around their fears and resistance – all with their permission of course as this is not about pushy sales. Most of the time in this situation you’ll find you can help the client find their way through any worries or fears about going ahead – but you can only do that if you’ve asked them for more information on what is causing them to hesitate.
2. Add a Bridge to the next Conversation
This is where you acknowledge their reason for needing to go away (providing you agree with that reason of course – sometimes you serve them best by challenging them), and schedule the time when you are going to speak next. This way you both have a bridge to that next conversation and you are not left wondering what is happening and worrying about how to follow up with them.
Getting the Internal Yes
There’s an important step that I’ve missed so far in this blog, and that is that the first and most important way of rescuing an “I need to think about it” scenario is to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the first place.
The “I need to think about it” normally comes up at Step 7 – right at the end of the sales conversation after you ask them to make a decision. So the secret to avoiding the “I need to think about it” is to conduct Steps 1-6 really well in the first place.
The step where all the magic happens is Step 6 – Present your Solution. In this step, what you are aiming for is the “Internal Yes” where your client gets their own internal feeling of “oh gosh, I think I really want to do this!”. They might not tell you that yet, and they might still have concerns or fears you need to help them explore, but that Internal Yes is the secret to that “I need to think about it” not being a “polite no”.
The 7 Steps to Yes!
You can learn how to do this with my “7 Steps to Yes!” structure for an authentic and comfortable sales conversation that helps the client see the value in working with you.
Following this process will massively reduce the number of times you’ll be ending that call on an “I need to think about it”.
There will always be those clients who are not ready to commit to the work, and “I need to think about it” will sometimes be a totally valid response, learning how to take your clients through an effective sales conversation will massively increase your chances of having them end that call with a “Yes please! How soon can we start?” and if what you hear instead is “I need to think about it” now you know how to address that too!