Do you know why customers are saying “Let me think about it”..?
By Nial Adams
The five words you never want to hear a ‘customer’ say to you – “Let me think about it”.
So you’ve done your homework, found out what (you believe) makes a compelling proposition and presented your offer.
Your marketing has worked; the new customer is at your door – digital, or analogue – and ready to buy. The pace quickens and you’re sure you’ve got a sale in the bag.
Then, just before you complete the process and expect to land the sale, your new customer (or so you thought) utters the five words every salesperson doesn’t want to hear – “Let me think about it” – and you know that this is nothing more than a polite rejection.
So why does it happen?
Now every good sales trainer will tell you that a “No is simply a customer’s way of telling you they want more information”.
What utter nonsense. A ‘no’ often means no and there’s little more you can do about it. The question is why?
There is often a really good reason why that red-hot lead suddenly turns icy-cold. It could be that the price you’re pitching at simply doesn’t fit the expectation or the budget of the customer (you should have qualified this early on). Or there could be another very good reason.
So does it mean the sale is really dead in the water? No, not always. There’s always the chance that you new best customer genuinely wants some time to think about it.
There are really two main points here we need to think about:
1. How do you ensure that there’s very limited chance that your customer/prospect is going to reject your offer, even in the most polite of ways, and…
2. What do you do about it if it happens?
Let’s deal with the first one –
Before a would-be customer even gets close to making the final buying decision you should be sure that they have all the information they need. And this is something you should be checking as you go along.
An ‘informed decision’ may seem like the obvious cliche but it really is the case. You shouldn’t be expecting any customer to rush into a purchase unless they are sure it’s want they want and need and fulfills their requirements; that’s just good business.
In terms of your marketing you need to know what sort of questions they want answers to (the & Key Buying Criteria will help you understand this). Then you can answer as much of this as you can up front in your marketing.
Good website copy, good brochures and other point of sale, good packaging and signage, great sales letter or proposals all play an important part in making sure the customer knows what they are actually buying and why it fits their needs.
Remember, selling starts the moment you engage the customer and that very much includes the way you using your marketing.
Good marketing is always customer-focused, it doesn’t simply ramble on about you, your company or even your product. It needs to reflect the thoughts and questions your customers have in mind.
How can you know this; well there’s a really simple way, ask your customers! Find out what’s important to them. What situation or scenario has prompted them to want to find a product or service that could be the solution they’re looking for?
Now let’s look at the second point –
So your best new friend, the customer who was about to buy says “Let me think about it”. How do you react and how can you get the sale back on track, if that’s the right thing?
Behaving like a spoilt child will certainly win no favours and almost definitely kill off any chance that the customer will come back when they have thought about it.
So your first act should be to accept the situation politely and put the ‘customer’ at ease. Remember they may be feeling very awkward about it.
You may already know the ‘feel, felt, found’ model often taught to sales people. If so, be very careful when using this. It is a good structure for handling objections but there’s always the chance that the customer also knows it and that can then seem very manipulative.
I’ve been in this situation myself and rather that working it put me off completely. I felt I was simply being ‘processed’.
If you don’t know this model, here’s a simple way of applying the same concepts… but without the robotic script.
1. Acknowledge, in your own words, that the customer wants some time. Remember they genuinely may want to go away and consider it. They may even want to shop about and price test your offer. That’s fine, we all do it.
2. Rather than ask directly what the problem is, find the right way of inviting the customer to let you know what they feel they need to know in order to make a decision. It could be cost, it could be confidence. It could be that this simply don’t like you!
Also remember that there is always a chance that there was no real sales potential in the first place. You may have just been mystery-shopped, or they may just be looking for a price to use to leverage their existing supplier.
Next, use good manners and ask the customer for permission to ask what they need to know before committing to buy. “May I ask you..” or “Could you help me…” are generally good ways to do this but ask permission before you ask for reasons.
3. Then you can use one or two points to focus on to find out what the situation really is and if they have a genuine question. Most of all though DO NOT start off about asking about the price or their budget. Remember PRICE is never the issue, whereas VALUE often is.
It can be a good idea to run through a simple summary. Use this to check your understand of what their needs are. It could be that during the sales interaction the customer has actually realised that they don’t need or want what you have.
That’s not always a bad thing. Some sales were never meant to be and the last thing you should (genuinely) want is a customer buying the wrong thing and then suffering ‘buyer’s remorse’.
Above all, give the customer the chance to explain why they feel that way. It could transpire that they’re actually just a bit confused and they’re making a decision based on false information or poor understanding.
You should be looking for a way to give the customer the opportunity to explain exactly what they (think) they want and what they would feel confident in buying.
Like most good communication, you want the customer to do about 80% of the talking, your job is to listen and understand.
And finally, the biggest thing you can do is to ensure that the ‘customer’ leaves the situation with a high level of comfort. There’s a very good chance that they will indeed come back to you. Even if they don’t, you want to ensure that they have a positive experience and take that away with them.
It’s surprising how customers who never were, often come back months or even years later and do business with you, simply because you left them with a sense of trust and comfort. It’s also possible that they will recommend you to others. Sometimes as a result of feel some degree of reciprocity.
So next time you hear those five words – “Let me think about it”, stop, pause and think. It could be a very valuable lesson and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s the end of a good relationship.
PS. If you want to learn more about marketing take the Free Trial of Make Marketing Work – my new marketing course online.
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