“I have to run this by my boss.”

“Let me think it over.”

“Call me back in a month.”

When a prospect gives you a line like that, what does it mean?

Lots of experts will say it means “no sale.” The prospect is just putting you off, and will never buy.

But it ain’t necessarily so.

Some prospects really will run it by the boss — and the boss will say yes. Some really will think things over — and decide to buy. Some know that big changes are coming soon in their organization and you’d be really smart to call them back in a month.

But others will just eat up your most precious selling resource — your time — and never buy.

How can you sort the wheat from the chaff? Well, you could just ask, but salespeople hesitate to do that. They worry that they’ll be seen as a high-pressure arm twister or come across as desperate. But there is a way to ask that won’t scare off real buyers. It’s called the “1-to-10 Technique”.

Quite simply, ask your prospect on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being nowhere near a sale and 10 being a done deal, how close they are to buying your product. The 9s and 10s are obvious candidates, 7s and 8s will take some work but are still worth pursuing, and 5 or 6s probably aren’t worth your continued efforts.

The approach works because you’re not asking the prospect to commit to a yes or no answer. You’re simply asking for a snapshot of where things stand at the moment. But it gives you a vital piece of information — even if it’s not the answer you wanted to hear — that will allow you to prioritize your efforts and make the most of your selling time.

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