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In sales, we hate it when we’ve gone through the presentation, answered all the key questions, and covered all anticipated concerns only to have a prospect say something like, “Well Victor, that sounds good; let me go ahead and think about it and get back to you. I just can’t make a decision right now.”


People hate to make big decisions! The fear, the anxiety and the long-term worry of making a wrong decision will inevitably cause people to put off making a decision.

In sales, we hate it when we’ve gone through the presentation, answered all the key questions, and covered all anticipated concerns only to have a prospect say something like, “Well Victor, that sounds good; let me go ahead and think about it and get back to you. I just can’t make a decision right now.”

At that moment, I don’t know about you, but I want to reach the across the desk, grab the client by the scruff of the neck and say, “Are you kidding me! I just spent 2 hours going over this in painstaking detail and you can’t make a decision right now! What the hell else is there to think about?” I know, I know we can’t do that. Such conduct would be unbecoming of a professional salesperson (but hey, I can at least think about it, can’t I?)
So what can we do to minimize or avoid altogether the “I can’t make a decision right now” push back?

I’m convinced that the answer lies in breaking up the big decision into much smaller ones. I witnessed and learned this technique from watching car salesman close deals. (Note: Please don’t roll your eyes) Car salespeople have been trained in the art of the sales creep. They won’t ask you to make a buying decision outright, but they will maneuver you into making small decisions. And, before you know it, you’re driving off the lot with a new car. Let me illustrate my point and tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

“Let me get some preliminary information. Can I have your full name? And your home address?”

“Can I ask you to go ahead and fill in the rest of this form? This is just basic information we require of everyone.”

“What color were you looking for?”

“How long have you been thinking about getting a new car?”

“Would you be using our financing or will you be providing your own?”

“Can I have the keys to your car (trade-in). I’ll have our evaluator take a look at it and get an estimate.”

“How does the car feel?”

“I know it’s not the monthly payment you were looking for, but if I can come down a little, would you meet me half way?”

Or my personal favorite,

“Go ahead and initial this price right here (on the form) and I’ll take it into my manager and see if we can get your price approved.”

The masters of the sales creep know what they’re doing. Each question is a “mini-close” to get you to move in the buy direction. By breaking the big decision into a sequence of small “mini-closes”, they stand a better chance of closing you. Making small decisions is less complicated and less painful for the buyer. Big decisions equal big risk. Small decisions equal small risk. Buyers are more apt to consume their risk in bite sizes.

If we as salespeople can breakdown the sales close into a series of small commitments or actions that engage the buyer, I’m convinced that by the time you get to the commitment question, the close will be that much easier.

Great salespeople are master sales creepers. If done correctly, you the salesperson can learn how to creep up to the close without the client ever being aware that they’re being sold every step of the way. Every movement, every question and every request, no matter how minor, is orchestrated with such precision, that the buyer is unaware of the process. Each question is calculated to get an agreement or an affirmation from the buyer. Each request to do something (e.g., fill out his form, take a test drive, etc.) is aimed at increasing the buyer’s level of compliance as you creep up slowly towards an eventual close. That’s selling!

p.s., Pundits of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) will argue that if you can get someone to say “yes” so many times, they’ll automatically be conditioned to say yes at the close when you ask for the order. I don’t wholeheartedly subscribe to this notion since the literature on whether or not this works, beyond the anecdotal, is hard to find. Also, it’s worth reminding our master manipulators that people today are getting smarter and are more cognizant of anything that stinks of manipulation. If they smell manipulation, the sale is lost.

About the author

Victor Antonio

Victor Antonio

Victor Antonio's poor upbringing in one of the roughest areas of Chicago didn't stop…

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