Most salespeople think of “stalls” and “objections” as synonyms. Wrong. Stalls and objections are both things you may hear after you have asked for commitment, but an objection is a specific reason not to buy. In a stall—“I need to think about it”—the customer offers no particular reason for hesitating.

Almost all salespeople buy in to the stall. Very few ever get the deal once they do.

What the stalling customer is really saying is this: “I’m not quite sold yet. Sell me some more.” Well then, by all means, do some more selling. But do it right. Here’s how:

Never challenge a stall. Since the customer offered no specific reason for hesitating, don’t force him to come up with one by saying something like, “What is it that you need to think about?” Challenging stalls creates conflict, not sales.

Don’t try to manipulate the customer. If you’ve learned any manipulative sales techniques, forget them. They do more harm than good. The old “feel, felt, found” method rarely worked even in its heyday, and it certainly doesn’t work today.

Identify a Universal Stall Breaker. The USB is a capability of your product or your company that minimizes the risk to the customer who buys. Every company has one. Yours might be a money-back guarantee, a no-hassle return policy, a try-and-buy arrangement, extended terms, or an unusually comprehensive warranty. Whatever this capability is, do not present it to the customer up front. Hold the USB in reserve, in case you hear a stall when you ask for commitment.

When you do hear a stall, follow this procedure:

Say, “I understand.”

Restate the product features the customer liked before the stall arose.

Present the USB.

Ask for commitment again.

It works like this: “I understand. You like ____, _____, and ____ about our product. With our _____ policy (the USB), you can try it with no risk at all. How does that sound? (Customer responds.) Would you like to go ahead with it then?”

Far too many salespeople fail to ask for commitment even once in a sales call. With this stall-breaking method, you are asking twice. And you have followed the customer’s lead by doing exactly what the stall really asked you to do: “Sell me some more.”

Believe it, you will make more sales.

Action Selling In Action   

Equity Residential is the largest apartment leasing company in the United States. In a tough economic climate, Equity decided to invest in developing the selling skills of its leasing consultants. Needless to say, these consultants often hear stalls such as, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”

Equity has a Service Promise Guarantee that minimizes the risk for customers who choose to rent. “But prior to the Action Selling training program, we presented our Service Promise Guarantee as just another feature,” said Jonakan O’Steen, director of education and leadership development. With their eyes opened to a new way of looking at stalls, Equity’s consultants quickly identified the guarantee as their Universal Stall Breaker. That is now how they use it.

“It’s easy to get stalled when working with rentals,” O’Steen said. Or, rather, it used to be.