As seen in Creative Selling magazine

I’d like you to imagine three things. The word “Yes,” the word “No,” and the letters TIO, my acronym for the all to popular Think It Over. Ok, got all three in your mind’s eye? Well, just go ahead and put a big X over the TIO because people rarely think it over anyway.

 Now, I want you to think about sales and answer the following questions. Are you tired of wasting time with prospects that turn into nothing? Are you tired of the Think It Over excuse? If you answered “Yes,” you’re going to love this sales tip.

The overwhelming majority of sales people who accept TIO as a reason to end a sales call due so based on their own inability to make decisions.

Here’s what I mean. You are a consumer as well as a salesperson, right? As such, you have a decision protocol that influences the process of how you arrive at a decision. Some people are quick to decide. Others labor over decisions. Some people need to shop around. Others look for lower prices. Regardless of which it might be, it is still in your mind a valid reason to TIO. Let me translate your thoughts when a prospect tells you they want to think it over.

     Prospect: I want to Think It Over

     Sales Person: Ok, here’s my card

     Translation: Hmmm, well, if it were me, I guess I’d like to think things like this over a bit too.       

The idea that your prospect wants to think it over actually makes sense to you. Back in your sales role, you can easily become sympathetic to those who choose this stalling tactic because you believe it has validity. But again, how many people do you suppose really think it over at all? Many people just say they want to think it over by default or as a result of a conditioned response developed interacting with other salespeople. Some folks just can’t make decisions. Either way, you need to get rid of the TIO; otherwise, a prospect who would have bought from you today won’t, and may find a reason not to buy from you tomorrow. Or worse yet, because they should own your product or service you competitor makes sure they do!

Let’s look at how to handle it. The first thing we have to look at is our own predisposition not to challenge a prospect’s right to TIO. The main reason stems from your desire to avoid making the prospect upset. And, as well it should! However, if a prospect is sincere about thinking it over, they will usually be able to articulate what they need to think about. The only prospects that will get upset are those just using TIO as an excuse to shop your price or those who are simply uncomfortable telling you, “No.” It can be really tough determining which ones are sincere and which ones are playing you, so you’ll need to employ some tact here along with some strategy.

The first thing you will have to do is put your prospects at ease by making them think they’re off the hook to go think it over. Use a statement like, “Thinking it over makes perfectly good sense to me.” Your prospects think they’re home free and drop their defenses. You can then follow it up with, “So what would you like me to do next?” The prospects will most likely respond with, “We’ll let you know,” or some other wishy-washy answer. That’s just what you wanted. It’s now time to, get real interested, not curious or skeptical, just interested! Say, “I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you, between now and the next time we (get together or speak), what do you think you’ll think about most?” Remain silent or just look at them with the most sincere look of interest you can muster. They might try to elude your question with, “Not sure, I’d have to think about it, blah, blah, blah.” Whatever they say, respond in a playful, lighthearted way with, “Gee, if you had to pick something.” Use the same interested look or silence, and under no circumstance should you help them with a multiple choice list here. Just listen. When they finally pick something, don’t try to overcome it! Using a Surprised Expression say “That’s the last thing I figured you’d say!” even if it wasn’t. This will prompt them to further explain.

You are now actively facilitating their process of thinking it over, which is right where you wanted to be. The prospect who really needed to think it over now has and the others will develop the courage to tell you they are not really interested. Either way, you have freed up some time. You could use it to go home, hug your kid, or pet the dog. It sure beats wasting time with the wrong prospects. When you get really good at this, you’ll have so much extra time that your family will get sick of you hugging them. So, as an alternative, you could always go out and find yourself another prospect. What a thought!

All the best,