Handling Procrastinating Prospects

By Gerhard Gschwandtner

When a prospect or customer just won’t make a decision, there are two things we can look at: First, your own attitude toward the hesitant client and second, the various techniques you can use to find out why your client procrastinates. The moment you realize that you’re dealing with a procrastinator, start shifting gears. Respond by caring and avoid controlling the buyer.

Let’s say you hear the familiar “I’ve got to talk to my boss about it.” You could say, “Of course you do. What are some of the things you would talk to him or her about?”

Agree with the prospect and establish trust. Sales psychologists suggest that the more you try to control a procrastinator, the more you increase the resistance to make a decision. As you give up your preoccupation with control and success, you’re creating an open space for the buyer to step in and reconsider your proposal.

The most difficult comment many salespeople stumble over is, “I’ve got to think about it.” The reason it’s difficult to handle is because of the things you may be secretly telling yourself about the situation, such as, “He has no right to be so unreasonable,” or, “What did I do wrong?”

Your job is not to blame anyone. Many salespeople respond to “I’ve got to think about it,” with “Is there anything I have not covered that you would like to know?” That’s a self-defeating question.

Next time you hear, “I’ve got to think about it,” you want to respond with, “What are some of the issues that you want to think about?” or, “I see that this is a difficult decision for you. Would you be able to share some of the reasons for and against buying at this time?” This approach will give your prospect a chance to open up.

If you want to sell to a procrastinator, you need to be supportive and reassuring. Your attitude will make or break the sale. If you are too eager, your customers will feel pushed and will be persuaded to resist you in order to stay in control. But if you use an open attitude, show empathy and ask questions designed to uncover the resistance, you will be able to turn procrastinators into buyers.