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"Let Me Think About It!"

Furniture World Magazine


Peter Marino provides guidance for salespeople looking to maximize their chances of convincing customers to buy.

Veteran salespeople frequently run into the customer’s coup de grace, worded as “Let me think about this,” or otherwise worded to mean the same thing. I call this ploy the customer’s coup de grâce because, more often than not, it is the customer’s gracious way of telling the salesperson that nothing the salesperson has said or done so far has won his or her buy-in. A less gracious approach would have been the blunt words, “You ain’t shown me anything yet that has knocked my socks off” or “You haven’t shown me anything that even comes close to helping me make the best buying decision.”

But while the customer’s request to allow him or her “to think about it” may be a gracious ploy, consultant and author Brian Tracy appears to be right when he analyzes the customer’s ploy as having nothing to do with thinking one jot more about what the salesperson has just said or done. The fact that the customer usually adds the words, “Do you have a card?” merely lends credence to the customer’s graciousness. What the customer’s addendum really means is, “I know you make your living this way, so I am asking you for your card because you seem to be a nice guy, and there’s no sense in my offending you.”

Most sales consultants insist that buying has little to do with thinking. They suggest that it has more to do with feeling, that customers buy emotionally, and later think about it after they have done their buying. While I agree that the emotions play a colossal role in the buying process, we might be a bit more cautious about belittling the role genuine thinking plays in the buying process, especially when the things we buy – a product or a service – can be fraught with dire consequences, financial as well as emotional.

If thinking really plays an insignificant role in the buying process, then why do some of our customers {not only the engineers) ask about our warranties? Why do some of them rattle our dinette tables and shake the chairs. Why do they sit on the edge of our mattresses? Why do they ask about the content of our fabrics?

If, in fact, our customers did hardly any thinking during the buying process, we’d have to conclude that John Lawhon was spinning his wheels when he emphasized that customers look for knowledgeable salespeople. Lawhon has always been right in that regard.

We should handle the customer’s coup de grâce with the greatest tact because kindness deserves kindness in return. Start with a genuinely kind smile. Then reframe the customer’s coup de grâce with something like the following: “What I hear you saying is that this is a very important decision for you. It certainly deserves your serious thinking as you go about doing your shopping. Before you go on to do just that, let’s go over one more time what you said you liked about this recliner.” Review the benefits the customer accepted about that recliner. Then invite the customer to sit “in” that recliner in order to feel once again its soothing comfort, making sure you add words like the following: “That way when you find something you like elsewhere, you can really compare it to this recliner.”

Practice this kind of Side-by-Side Buying. Finally, remember these words: We can argue about the role thinking plays in buying; we must never doubt the important role thinking plays in selling, and unlike Rodin’s Thinker, we must do our thinking on our feet. I strongly suggest you do some serious thinking about all this!

Trainer, educator and group leader Dr. Peter A. Marino writes extensively on sales training techniques and their furniture retailing applications. He has deep experience as a top salesman, sales manager, corporate trainer and consultant. Dr. Marino has undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy and a Ph. D. in ancient Greek and Latin. His books include “The Golden Rules of Selling Bedding”, “Stop Losing Those Bedding Sales” and “It’s Buying, Silly!” available through FURNITURE WORLD. Questions can be sent to Peter Marino at pmarino@furninfo.com.