Thinking things over seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. That is why so many poor performing salespeople accept this objection at face value when they hear if from their clients. The “I need to think about it” objection can be a hard one to get past, until you know how and why you should. This is a long post, but we’ll tackle this often thorny issue, so if it is one that gives you trouble, please read on.

First of all, you need to realize that “I need to think about it” is indeed an objection. In my book, Mastering Your Sales Process, I define objections as “questions that must be addressed after the proposal has been presented.” For the sake of contrast, questions asked BEFORE the proposal is presented are a normal part of the needs analysis process. I mention this now, because the best way to avoid objections is to get the questions answered during Needs Analysis before they even become objections, and they are still just questions.

However, if you have proposed a solution and there are questions outstanding, you will get objections. Sometimes they are very specific and relate to facts and figures in your proposal. Sometimes, they are not very specific, and reflect a general unease or uncertainly in the prospect about moving forward. For example, “I need to think it over”.

From the clients perspective, this usually means that they are not ready to make a decision. They may or may not know why.

They may know (and may or may not have told you) that they need to talk to someone else in the organization. They may know that they need three proposals before making a decision, and yours is not number three. Or it may be something else that they are able to articulate.

On the other hand, they may not know why, but they just are not ready.

In any case, what should you do when your client hits you with the “I need to think about it?” objection.

By realizing that it is an objection, and accepting my definition of an objection, the answer becomes clear. As a sales professional, you need react to this objection by realizing that you need to understand what still needs to be thought about. It would be best if you could be involved in that process of discovery.

So how do we get there?

Most people who work in a professional environment accept the chaotic nature of their own work schedule. Based on this premise, you can reply to the objection by saying something like:

“You know, that is entirely reasonable. We went over a lot of information, and it makes sense to consider it all thoroughly. However, as soon as we leave this meeting, we’ll both be hit with 1000 other things to distract us. So, since we are both (all) here now, and the information is fresh, perhaps you can help me understand what specific issues you still need to think about so that I can provide you with any additional information you might need in order to consider the problem more thoroughly.”

The logic here is clear. If there are unresolved issues, it makes sense to go over them while all are present and the information is fresh. This is especially true if there are multiply buyers in the room.

In using this approach, you have not rejected the prospects need to consider the problem, you only suggested that you do it together, and now. If you are successful, you are effectively back into the sales conversation, and if you can identify and resolve a few specific outstanding issues, you can put yourself back into position to set up the close.

But what if the tactic is just a stall? What if the prospect has no intention to buy or to buy from you? In this case, your approach will flush this out as well. When the answer to your suggestion is non-specific, you may want to say something like:

“You know, lots of times people tell me that they need to think it over when they have already decided not to move forward. If that is the case, can you just tell me now so that we can both save some time in the future?”

Any answer to this questions is good. If they say “yes”, then you know that you don’t have to waste time following up in the future. If they say “no”, then you can try again to flesh out the issues, or at least to agree on next steps. Either way you set yourself up to be efficient, and you demonstrate confident professionalism to the prospect.

Whatever you do, don’t just accept the “I need to think about it” objection”. Addressing it correctly offers opportunities to remain engaged in the sales process, or to learn that you should disengage. Either is better than accepting the objection, and the corresponding fate of the (usually) pointless follow up calls that come with it.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David