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Another sales myth: Prospects need time

Even though salespeople often believe that prospects will need time to think a decision over, the reality is that (most of the time) they don't. A "think it over" is nine out of 10 times just a polite way of saying no. Unfortunately, the salesperson believes that the prospect needs time to decide, accepts the "think it over", and leaves thinking, "I got one!"

This myth is so prevalent because it is so tempting to believe. If we think people just need some time to decide, then we don't have to force ourselves to ask the tough questions in order to get them to make a decision. This enables us to fool ourselves into believing that the deal is right around the corner. Prospects rarely need time to make a decision after we have made our presentations; they usually know what their answer is. As the salesperson, our job is to persuade them to tell us the decision and their reason for it -- even if the answer is no.

Sure, there are instances where prospects need some time to make a decision. If you feel you've run into one of those instances, be sure that you know all the reasons they have for needing more time. People often do need more time because they have other quotes coming in, they have to speak with another decision maker, or they have to finalize the budget, etc. Almost every valid reason for a "think it over" can be negated if a salesperson deals with these reasons before attempting to get a final decision from the prospect.

If someone needs more time, you need to know specifically why they do, and when you can expect a final decision. A belief that a prospect needs time to decide often evolves from when a prospect says, "This looks good. I need a few days to review this information and then get back to you. I think it might be a good fit." The salesperson then leaves, feeling comfortable in the knowledge that the deal is a few days away. But what the prospect is more likely saying is: "The answer is no, but if I tell you no, you will continue to badger me with questions and presentations. If I tell you I need some time, you will leave and I can hide from you."

Don't allow yourself (or your prospect) to believe in the "think it over." The only one of the two who will usually think it over is you, the salesperson! Ask some follow-up questions to the "think it over". Nurture the person. (As a general rule, if you are nurturing and the prospect becomes upset, most likely he is not telling you the whole truth.)

If you handle the situation correctly, both you and your prospect can get to the heart of the matter and come to some concrete decisions. Even if the answer is a "no" for good reasons, at least you know that and don't have to waste your time following up. Don't believe that prospects always need time to decide - usually they just need a little help from you to tell the complete truth.
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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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