There I was in the final minutes of the presentation. Heads were nodding “yes”. The body language was positive. So I asked for the order and got: “That was a great presentation. You answered all our questions. Looks like it will solve our problem. Let us think it over and we will give you a call.” I was young and naïve. I waited for the call that never came. Over time I learned never to accept “I want to think it over.”
The Close Begins At The Beginning
Great salespeople know that the opening sales conversation begins the close. And when the sales process is followed the close naturally follows. So if we have identified a problem we can solve, understand what the problem is costing the prospect, proven competence in solving this type of problem and proposed a solution within budget when we ask the decision maker for the order they just say “yes”. Yep, that’s true most of the time. But when we miss a step or something changes during the sales cycle, that’s when we get stuck in limbo with “I want to think it over.”
What “I Want To Think It Over” Really Means
In my experience I missed something along the way. Someone on the buying team still has reservations about the solution I proposed. Or maybe it is just the sales process. Or it could be personality types. Some buyers will tell you “no” right away. Then you have a chance to find out why and overcome that objection. Others are too polite to tell you face-to-face you lost. They say something like: “That was a beautiful presentation. You answered all our questions. Looks like you have the perfect solution. Thank you so much for coming in. We’ll think it over and call you soon.”
If You Get An IWTTIO
If the customer wants to think it over, what do you do? Depends on why they need more time. In some large companies, the buying team makes a recommendation to purchase and it gets “sent up the chain” for multiple levels of approval. That’s just the process. Great salespeople make sure the buying team will send a compelling recommendation forward and offer to meet with senior management to keep the process moving. Then I get the expected time for decision at each level and follow up appropriately. Be prepared to answer questions coming back from “up the chain”.
Some buying situations require multiple bidders. Great salespeople know this going in and decide whether a competitive bid is worth the investment. If it is they still follow good sales practice to find a differentiating factor. When there are multiple presentations, great salespeople always prefer to be last. Other bidders have gone ahead so the buying team has seen their presentations. Great salespeople can close by asking for the order since the other offers are known. The second best position is the first presenter. That way you set the level of expectation others have to exceed. Middle of the schedule presentations rarely win. The first one is memorable because it set the bar. The last one is fresh in mind. When they go last great salespeople can avoid the IWTTIO.
The best sales position to be in is when you are being evaluated on the merits of your solution. It’s your opportunity to win. My mentor Jim Wilson recommends getting the prospect to commit to either a “yes” or “no” at the end of the presentation. With a “yes” you can go celebrate. When it’s “no” you can learn why and go on selling.
So you have done the best job you possibly can and yet you get the dreaded IWTTIO. First you want to be sure they are thinking it over. Make sure you are really in the running for the work. Then find out when to follow up. Get a commitment for a meeting that day or at least an agreement they will take your phone call. If you don’t get those then most probably you are the only one “thinking it over.”
What You Can Do Right Now
- Think back on the IWTTIO’s you received to understand why.
- Prepare a general outline for the closing presentation: recap and confirm the pain, present a solution within the budget and demonstrate value, answer any questions and ask for the order.
- Before committing to present, ask for either a “yes” or “no” at the end.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford