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October 28, 2014

Beating the “I Need to Think About it” Customer Response

Talk to the hand, face ain't hearing itAnyone who has ever sold at the retail level has run into the infamous “I need to think about and I’ll be back” excuse. The first thing retail sales people should realize when faced with that response is that the vast majority of those customers will not think about it. When they walk out your door, chances are they’re gone for good — and not losing a wink of sleep over whether to buy that expensive gun or gadget from you.

So how do you, as a retailer, work around such an objection and make the sale?

For starters, customers often use the “I need to think about it and get back to you” excuse as a smokescreen to avoid giving the real reason. Salespeople, in turn, need to smoke out the real objection by asking questions. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’ve gotten the “I’ll be back” excuse over a gun sale. One of the top reasons for this customer response relates to the budget they had in mind when they walked into your store to make a purchase. If a customer has only $300 to spend on a shotgun and you’re trying to sell them one that’s $500, chances are you’re going to hear “I need to think about it,” so that they can end the conversation and get off the hook. A smart thing, then, when you hear that kind of customer response is to ask what their budget is. If you don’t ask, you have no way to put together a sale that will work for the customer.

Sometimes “I’ll be back” is given because the customer doesn’t perceive there’s enough value in the product for the price. Like any consumer buyer of retail goods or services, your customers need to feel that what they’re buying is something that’s priced correctly for the quality of the item. As it is with the budget consideration, you’ll need to ask questions of your customer. What features are they looking for in a particular item and in what order do they place the priority of those features? Ask your customer what they like and dislike about an item they’re considering purchasing and why. They just don’t dislike something for the sake of disliking it — there’s a reason behind that disfavor, and your job is to find out what it is and offer a solution. Perhaps they had a bad experience with a similar product, material or feature. Maybe they simply don’t know enough about a feature to risk investing their dollars in it.

Don’t forget to ask your customers how they anticipate using the item. For instance, why would a customer want an ultra lightweight rifle? Are they a hunter who likes to hike the mountains? Are they a tree stand hunter in tight confines where maneuverability is an issue? You won’t know until you ask. Once you have the answers to questions like these, you can point out features the customer might have missed and that would benefit how they intend to use that product, explain a feature that’s perhaps more complex or offer a different product that better suits their needs. No matter which way the conversation develops, you’ve decreased the chances of that customer walking out your door empty-handed.

Sometimes “I need to think it over” is due to a lack of urgency. Shopping in your store should be a pleasant, unpressured experience for customers. But if you want to keep the doors open, you need to move customers to action. That means you need to put some urgency into the selling process and get the customer off the dime.

To do this, you and your salespeople need to have a mindset that there is no time like the present. What reason is there for your customer to walk out of the store without the item they’ve expressed interest in? If you’ve done your job as a salesperson, you’ve presented the right product with the right benefits at the right price at the right time. Is anything really going to change with the customer between today and tomorrow or next week or next month? If the answer comes back as “No,” you’re halfway to winning the battle of the sale. Now it’s time to get the customer involved in the sale and paint a picture in his or her mind of how they’re going to use and enjoy the product. Load up the balance sheet with benefits so that the pluses outweigh any negatives. Make it easy for the customer to buy, maybe even throw in a cap or another inexpensive item to sweeten the pot. People buy by emotion and justify by logic — you have to create excitement and sell in the moment. Remember, there’s no better time to buy (or sell!) than right now.

You may also be interested in: Learning to Sell Part I: Rapport + Credibility = Value

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