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How to Tell When Someone Really Does Need to Think About It

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 131

I bet if you could listen in on the tens of thousands of conversations happening right this very second between business owners and potential clients, you'd hear this phrase a lot: "Let me think about it and get back to you."

For the business owner, it's a spine-chilling, hope-killing, exhausting thing to hear. For every 100 people who tell you "I'll think about it," how many of them really get back to you?

And yet, it's not an unreasonable request, is it? With almost every significant purchase I've made, I've wanted some time to marinate in the possibility after I've connected with the person in question.

Here's the trouble: when you hear from someone "I need to think about it," it could mean one of either two things.

The first is what is known as a "polite no." It's not really that polite, because it's a little lie, but it takes a lot of courage to tell someone no. So if someone doesn't have a sense of safety with you, or within themselves, it's easier to tell you they need to think about it, and then quietly slink off.

To be fair, they may not even be conscious that they want to say no. They just aren't comfortable, it's not a yes, and they're never going to get back to you. And if you follow-up with them they won't return your calls. It will turn into that horrible feeling of chasing someone.

But it could also mean exactly what it says. It's a big decision, and they need some time to think it through. They want to take some time in meditation to get clear on their own guidance. Maybe they need to talk to a partner or spouse, double-check their cash flow, or just make sure they have childcare available.

The trouble is, how can you tell when it's really worthwhile following up, and when you're just bothering them and feeling like a piranha yourself?

Time to ask some questions.

Sincere Questions After Hyperventilating

In treating the sales process as sacred, I'm big into asking the honest, sincere questions. If someone tells you they need to think about it, then what are the honest sincere questions on your heart?

I know one thing I always want to know. What is it that they need to think about? Is it guidance or childcare? Is it money, or time? What are the factors that they need to meditate on?

There's one other thing I'm wondering, too. How long is it going to take? How long do they need to figure things out?

These are totally obvious questions and they are totally reasonable to ask. So ask them.

Of course, you may need to spend a few minutes hyperventilating away from the phone, and then coming back into your heart before you ask, so you don't sound forlorn or angry, with the unspoken message, "What! You need to Think About It? Oh, just forget it... stop playing me!"

Having that kind of attitude tends to... well... the conversations don't end so happy if that kind of emotion comes out in your question, no matter how politely you phrase the question.

This is where empathy is everything. Getting into the clients' shoes, and having a deeper sense of your own heart connection. If you can ask those two questions from a place of sincerity and curiosity, sincerely wanting to know, then chances are they'll tell you.

The Bridge Over Troubled Decisions

Now that you know what's bothering them, and how long they need to think it over, this third question will build a bridge for you. It will tell you absolutely whether someone is serious and sincere, or if they are just trying to find a polite, easy way to end the conversation.

"You need three days to figure this out? Great. Let's make a twenty-minute appointment, just a quick-follow up to either let it all go, or to take the next steps. Today's Tuesday, so three days from now- can we talk at Friday, 2:30pm?"

This appointment I call the Bridge, because rather than just a dead-end at a cliff, it brings you and your potential client over the chasm into the future. When I respectfully make a bridge appointment with someone, I almost always end up with a client.

On the other hand, if they won't make the appointment, then just thank them kindly, and tell them to let you know in their own timing. Once you hang up, tell yourself "it's over." They may come back, some do. Many, however, won't, and it's okay to just let them go.

Voilá! You're all set. No more strange and awkward "Uh... I'm just calling (or emailing) for the eighth time to check in. How's it going?" Instead clarity and an agreement between the two of you that you are going to talk again about whether they are going to work with you.

Start being courageous enough to ask those three questions, and then make the Bridge, and you'll never be left, lonely and wondering, with an uncertain "I'll think about it," again.

Mark Silver, founder of Heart of Business, helps microbusiness owners build a bigger business without losing their heart. Get effective business practices through his widely read and acclaimed newsletter. Please join at

Source: EzineArticles
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Saying No


Business Owners


Potential Clients


The Polite No


Courage To Say No

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