Any salesperson will tell you that closing deals is not a matter of luck. It's about skill, about perfecting your sales processes and about overcoming the objections that would keep a deal from closing.
In this blog, I'll show you the strategies that I use when a prospect says “Let me think about it” or some other version of a “soft no”.
These are some of the most common objections that you'll deal with in sales, so mastering them is key to success.
Hermann Ebbinghaus, a renowned psychologist, is famous for a study he conducted on memory. He found out that within 24 hours most people will forget 75% of what you've told them. This gets worse: within 30 days they forget 90% of what you told them and, of the remaining 10%, they recall, half of it is inaccurate.
So, when you're following up with a prospect to close a deal, after a month, they've forgotten almost everything that you said in your presentation.
On the other hand, when is their memory at almost 100%? Right at the end of your presentation! The end of your presentation is the finale and that's when you close. Not tomorrow, not next week, not at the end of the month.
The Reason Behind a "Soft No"
The reason why prospects respond with “I'll think about it” is a form of what we call “Buyer's Remorse in advance”. When they have to commit, they put themselves in the line there's almost palpable tension. They are too afraid to fail or to make the wrong decision. It's actually this fear that makes them want to postpone the actual decision-making and say things like “Let me think about it” or “Let's circle back at the end of the month.”
A good salesperson understands that it's their responsibility to uncover the real reasons behind this objection. So, the next time your prospect tells you “Let me think about it”, don't make the rookie mistake of saying:
“Sure, Mr. Prospect, I understand you need some more time to think it over. How about we meet next week?”
Because as soon as they walks out the door, your chances of getting the sale drop dramatically. Remember: By the next week the've already forgotten 75% of what you told them!
Instead, you should gauge their interest. Push back on the objection gently and say in a measured way:
“Mr. Prospect, when someone tells me that they have to think about it, they're telling me that for one of these two reasons: They're not interested in us or they are interested, but not sure. Which is it?”
By asking this, you put your prospect in a position where they feel they need to answer this question since it's a reasonable one. If they say they’re actually not interested, you're not going to get a deal. However, most people will reply by saying: “Well, Steve, I'm interested but I'm just not sure.” This means that you missed something during your presentation or at some point in the sales process. You didn't demonstrate enough value. You either didn't address a key issue or you didn't tackle an objection sufficiently.
When they're interested but not sure, the objection is usually one of these three things:
The first thing you have to do is to ask them and figure out which one of these things it is. Say something like:
“No problem. It's just my job to get you the information and make a fully informed decision. What aspect are you not sure about specifically?”
They’ll probably respond something that points you in one of those three directions to understand what is really making them unsure or uncomfortable. If they're worried the product is not a fit, they'll say something like: “I'm worried it won't be compatible with our existing environment.” If it's about functionality, they might say: “I'm interested but it seems complicated”. When the objection is about finance, they'll say something like: “It's probably too much money right now.” Based on their answer, you’ll have earned the right to re-engage and tackle the real objection.
How to overcome each one of these objections:
This objection is fairly straightforward since for most products you can either try it out, or you can provide them with examples of the product working within environments of the same characteristics.
If your prospect is worried about the functionality of the product, it means they feel there is a risk that your product or service won't be able to do what you say it will do for them within their organization. Risk is a big reason if not one of the biggest reasons that deals don't get done.
People are worried (and often for good reasons) and it's important that, as a salesperson, you empathize with their thinking. Just imagine: If they make a big purchase that doesn't work out, they might not get that big promotion, or worst, they might get in trouble. They could even get fired!
You need to uncover what they think the functionality risk is and then, you'll be able to overcome the functionality risk objection.This means that you need to get to the objection behind the objection.
Let’s think about the different reasons that a product might not work for the prospect:
First, the product could actually not work, meaning that they're buying a car and the engine is just bad. You can overcome this objection by showing them the product working and and letting them use it. You're lucky as a salesperson if you can let the prospect try the product out.
Second,they could be worried about implementation risk, like the ability to get people that are going to be using the product to actually use the product. In this case, you can show them similar organizations with similar people who have successfully come to speed with the new product.
Finally, they could be worried that your product can't deliver what you say it can deliver. The key to minimizing this risk is providing the prospect with references and case studies that show other companies using the product successfully.
This is one of the most common and most difficult objections that salespeople face: When the prospect says some version of “This seems too expensive.”
The key to overcome these objections is being able to show the unique value that the prospect will receive if they acquired your product. Help them add that value up!
You should frame things in terms of what they lose if they don't buy your product, as opposed to what they gain if they do buy your product. Remember: People hate losing things!
Another tip worth mentioning is how you can turn an objection around on a prospect. This technique is called “The Objection Sale.” This is when you turn their objection around into a reason for buying.
You can neutralize the objection to make it sound like this:
“Mr. Prospect, if I prove to you that with our training and a little bit of practice you can master the product within a week, will you be able to buy the product?”
The benefits of this strategy are that it can set you up for a close and it can also uncover another real objection. So, if they answer that question saying: “No, even if we fix the training issue, I would still need to get the CEO’s approval for this purchase.” Then, you just uncovered something really important
Now you can use these powerful techniques to get your prospects to tell you the real reason why they feel they can’t sign the deal. Remember: The best salesperson will ask the specific questions to get the specific answers that they need to close the sale.