Many prospects simply cannot make a definite yes-or-no decision on their own, especially in today’s “iffy” business environment. Often they must go to someone else – a partner, manager or someone higher up in the company to get a green light, or even to make up their own minds.

But rather than dismiss such prospects as a colossal waste of your time, treat them with a greater degree of care, says author JoAn Majors. After all, they are already uncertain, possibly insecure, maybe in over their heads.

Questions are the cure
Remember that the one asking the questions actually controls the conversation. With that in mind, let’s examine a typical sales scenario.

Albert, your prospect, has listened to the options you’ve outlined and now says one of three things:
1. “I need to think about it.”
2. “I’ll have to talk to my manager about that.”
3. “That’s awfully expensive (or time consuming). I can’t make that kind of decision independently.”

In the first case, Albert has elected to share very little information. But he’s actually telling you a great deal — namely, that he’s too uncomfortable to share the actual objection or that there may be a third party involved. That’s a tip-off to you that a greater degree of trust is necessary before any disclosure about the real issue can take place.

In the second answer, Albert is revealing his dilemma and not just brushing you off, so don’t brush off his remark. It’s now time to find out more about his manager.

In the third, he states an actual objection – it’s expensive (or time consuming) – and Albert tells you he needs help with the decision.

Knowing the objection and that another person is involved makes it a great deal easier to proceed.

In all three, your job is to give Albert – your walking, talking marketing tool – the opportunity to send a positive and acceptable message to the person who in fact may make the final decision. What do you say?

“In addition to you, is there anyone else who might influence the decision?” Or: “Besides you, is there anyone who might also be interested in the proposal we’re discussing?”

Neither question demeans Albert, exploits his indecision or forces his hand. You just accept the reality that someone else might be involved. How might the prospect respond?

“Yes, my boss (or board of directors, CFO or lawyer).”

Your response should go something like this: “What might his or her concerns about this proposal be?” Or: “What is it that your manager might need to know about this product or service?”

Sometimes it’s price or payment plan or return on investment. You can never know until you find out more, by asking questions with care, concern, respect and non-judgment.

This simple communication skill can turn those indecisive sales prospects into buyers. Should their inability to make a decision stop them from benefiting from your offer? Not at all.

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