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Dialog 3 : "I Need to Think About It"

Scenario

You've made your sales presentation, and all seems to have gone well. Then you are hit with the dreaded, "I need to think about it." The statement could mean any number of things, including "I'm not yet convinced that the benefits you've presented are worth the costs," or "I want to check around to see if I can get a better deal some other place."

Figure 3.3 I Need to Think About It.

Strategies

You'll probe to determine the true nature of your prospect's objection and direct your dialog accordingly. If you sense the problem is that your prospect is a habitual procrastinator, you'll use strategies that aim to expedite the decision-making process, specifically the Why-Hesitate and Act-Now strategies. If the true objection centers around your product or your presentation, you'll readdress those issues through the Ben Franklin strategy, so that your product's benefits and values are clearly conveyed. In this practice, attributed to Ben Franklin himself, you'll invite your prospect to join you in listing on one half of a sheet of paper the advantages of buying and on the other half the reasons for waiting.

Insights

"If you want to make decisions, then eliminate all the alternatives with the power of factual data. If you do not want to make decisions, then do us all a favor by staying out of the way."
—John Mott

Insights

Thomas J. Watson Jr., when he was chairman of IBM, asked an employee how he had come to a certain decision. The employee said he'd just listened to his gut and made a "visceral decision." Watson responded, "Well, if there are going to be any visceral decisions around here, I'd like to use my own viscera."

Further Considerations

Engage the power of the senses to help persuade prospects. What can you include in your presentations to help people see the vision you have of how your product can help them succeed? How can you illustrate its impact or results? In addition to charts and graphs, perhaps you can include photos of your product being used by satisfied customers? Can you show samples of the solutions you've crafted for other clients? Is there any relevant way to utilize sound to help sell your product? Perhaps a recording that features audio elements of your product? Or a recorded endorsement from a loyal client? Is there something for your prospect to touch, or taste, or smell?

Experience Shows

Deadlines are among the most effective tools for getting people to take immediate action. If you have no particular deadline to work with, then focus on the costs of waiting (for example, "There may be a rise in price"; "This item may be gone next time"; "You'll miss out on the immediate increases in profits and productivity this product provides"; and so on).

If you're so inclined, prepare a customized sample of your product as it applies to your prospect's business. The more easily a prospect can see how your products benefit him, the more persuasive your presentation will be. Such samples also help sell an initial meeting (for example, "I'm really excited about how this mock-up turned out, and I can't wait to show you!"). However, be careful not to invest too much time in preparing a sample for what may turn out to be a dead end. Also, avoid giving away an idea that could simply be copied by a current supplier.

What the Experts Say

Experts in the field of communications say that men and women often have different styles of communication. In a "typically male" style, a person thinks through an issue in his head in order to reach a conclusion and then makes a statement about the conclusion he's reached. In a "typically female" style, a person will converse with others in order to help sort through her thoughts and feelings on an issue. She examines pros and cons by thinking out loud in order to help her come to a conclusion. Be aware of different communication styles when selling.

Be Careful

Don't be too quick to fill a conversational void. When you've asked a question, remain silent until you get a response. Sometimes a little silence can be golden in more ways than one!

What the Exemplars Do

Peter Drucker, author, academic, and all-around business expert, says this about taking time: "Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time. "

Ask Yourself

  • If I'm hearing a lot of "I need to think about it," do I need to improve my sales presentations so that they're more persuasive or convey more urgency?
  • Have I prepared a list of all the reasons why it's important to "act now" in regard to my products or services? Do I have the whole list memorized?
  • Do I have some examples to share about times when a customer of mine was glad he didn't wait?
  • Have I prepared a Ben Franklin–type form, and do I carry plenty of blank copies with me to sales presentations?
  • In my own life, do I notice what motivates me to act rather than delay? Do I try to incorporate such motivations into my sales presentations?
  • Do I analyze how much time and energy I'm willing to invest in a particular prospect and compare it with the potential gains I might see if this prospect became a life-long customer?
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