7 Words we dread to hear from potential buyers

Thank you, James, I really appreciate you sending me this information and proposal, there is a lot to take in here so let me have a think about it and I will come back to you.

I remember those words vividly. It came from the Country Director of a large reseller partner who I was trying to convince to work with me and the company I worked for (3Com) at the time.

I had spent around 4 weeks developing a proposal about why they should partner with us and what we could offer them in a commercial relationship. With their commitment, we would see some significant volumes, and that in return was worth a large amount of commission to me.

He seemed keen. I had shared so much information with him about why we would be a good partner. He talked about how our products could be deployed within their network and how we could train their team to learn how to sell the range of technology we had.

It looked so promising and I took him at this word!

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited a bit more.

6 weeks passed and then I saw the announcement. They had chosen to partner with a competitor and it was at that point I realised I had been played.

Those 7 words ‘Let me have a think about it’ were in fact a distraction. A red herring. A scent to put me off and it worked. I did as they asked and said ‘Hey no problems at all, just come back to me when you have thought about it more. No issues at all’

And at that point, they were gone.

You see, they didn’t really want to think about it.

What he meant with those words (which I failed miserably to pick up on) was ‘something is not feeling quite right for me here and so I am not happy to make a commitment right now’

But I didn’t spot it. And as a result, I lost that deal.

Ever since those times, my ‘think about it’ antenna has been on full alert. Once bitten twice shy right?

Tuning into what the other person is REALLY THINKING is one of the skills we must develop if we are to win more deals than we lose.

This is a phrase that buyers use all of the time and sadly too many salespeople fall for it.

But what if they do actually mean it James? Some people may just need more time. They might I admit have Blue characteristics and just need some more time.

But in my experience, this is 1 or 2 times out of 10.

Once in a while, it’s sincere: The buyer thinks that an idea MIGHT be a good one, but they have their doubts and want some time to mull it over or read some stuff or talk to someone about it before reaching a decision.

But USUALLY, (and you can often tell by the tone/manner in which it is said), it simply means, “Look, I don’t want to say no, but that’s pretty much what I’m doing while trying to be polite.”

The problem is how do you handle this?

How can you avoid making the mistake that I did whilst also not pushing the buyer and pissing them off?

As with many instances in sales, its about being able to read the body language effectively of the other person you are with. It’s about adding up the other aspects within your conversation with them. It’s about understanding the dynamic of the person and seeing if this thought is consistent with what they have done in the past. If they have always been somewhat cautious and reserved then they may need that extra time to think about what to do.

In such cases, asking questions such as

‘I appreciate that x, tell me what you will be giving most thought to’

Or

‘I want to give you the time you need to think about things whilst also not losing momentum on this project. If we speak in 3 days time, will that give you the time you need to think things through and make a decision’

If however the conversations were frank and open and those 7 words have come as a surprise then deal with the issue there and then.

Ask this question in a soft, empathetic tone

‘Additional time in most cases won’t help you make a decision. What we need to make up our minds is the further information or greater assurance that the solution will work. Be honest with me, what are you really thinking right now and what can I share that will put those doubts to rest?

When you ask these types of questions, you can save yourself time and wasted emotion.

If I had known to ask them some 15+ years ago, I might have had a response of ‘I’m just not sure about this part of your solution’ or ‘I think your competitor has a stronger offering in this area’ and I could have at least tried to deal with the problem.

But when we just ignore the real sentiment behind the ‘let me have a think about it’ we lead ourselves into a false world, one full of blind hope than realistic expectation.

Don’t make the mistake that I did. Deal with the issue when it happens. Be in tune with your buyer and be brave to really find out what they are thinking.

Do that and you may not win every deal you come across but you will save yourself time and save yourself from becoming a prisoner of hope as I was all those years ago.

Take control of the situation. Ask the right questions in the right way and you can find out what is really going on in the mind of the buyer and move your deal forward one way or another.

As I always say, the worst word in sales isnt’ no, its’ maybe.

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