What to say when the client says, “I want to think about it”

When prospective clients tell you, "I have to think about it" or "I have to talk to my [spouse]," do you know what to say?

Here’s how to overcome those common objections and "close" more clients.

First, when the appointment is made, ask if they are married or have a significant other and if so, tell them they both need to be present at the appointment. If they balk, ask if they can make a decision to go ahead without their spouse, and if they say yes, ask again! Asking, "Are you sure?" will often cause them to admit they probably need to have their spouse with them.

Second, before you present your "solution" to their problem, take some time to discover what it is that they want to accomplish. Ask questions about why they contacted you and about their most pressing concerns or objectives. Only then should you show them how your services can help them get what they want.

When they tell you they want X and later say, "I have to think about it," you can remind them that they told you they wanted X and ask them, "Has that changed?" or "Did I misinterpret?" 

By involving them in the process right from the beginning, they will tell you what you need to do or say in order to get "the sale."

Third, when they say, "I have to think about it," ask them WHAT they have to think about. Make them tell you. Remind them of the benefits they get when they go forward, and what they lose or risk losing if they do not. 

When someone says they have to think about it, money is often the real issue. Don’t hesitate to ask if this is what is causing them to hesitate. When they admit that it is, make sure there are no other objections by asking, "So, if it wasn’t for the money, you’d go ahead?" Or, "If we can work out the money part, would you go ahead today?"

If they have previously admitted that they want the benefits you offer and have no other objections, a payment plan may be all you need to offer to get them to go forward.

Finally, you can increase your closing percentage by pre-qualifying prospects before they come to see you. In addition to asking about their ability to make a decision (with or without their spouse, partner, superior, or committee), you can give them an idea of what your services may cost and see if that’s going to be a problem. 

A few hours spent with books on sales can provide more ideas for closing more prospects. A good one to start with is Tom Hopkin’s classic, "How to Master the Art of Selling".

Okay, so the client is sitting in your office and it’s time to sign your retainer agreement. Does she? Are you "closing" as many clients as you would like? If not, here are seven things you can do to improve your percentages:

1. Have your retainer agreement out, in advance. 

If you hide it and whip it out when it’s time to sign, people get nervous. Put them at ease by letting them get used to seeing the paperwork sitting on your desk during the consultation. You should also point to the documents with the pen you will ask them to sign with. Let them get used to seeing it out and open.

2. Assume they will sign.

Everything you do and say should be consistent with them becoming your client. Say, "When we get your case started…" not, "If you decide to hire me…".

Here are examples of an assumptive close:

"Go ahead and put your name here and I’ll get started on this immediately."

"Where do you want me to send your copies of the documents we file in your case?" 

"I have everything I need; how soon would like us to get started working on this?"

3. Have them fill out the "easy" stuff first.

When it’s time to sign, give them something to fill out or something non-threatening to sign (i.e., authorizations), first. Let them get into the habit of signing; it will be easier to go with the flow when you present your retainer agreement.

4. Ask a question, break eye contact, start filling out the agreement.

When it’s time to sign, ask them, "Where would you like us to send your copies?" or "What is your social security number?" Then break eye contact, look at the agreement, pen poised to fill it out, and wait for them to speak. Don’t utter another word–wait for them to respond. When they do, fll out the agreement for your new client.

5. Don’t ask them to "sign".

Words are important, and the wrong words can intimidate. Instead of asking them to "sign the contract," say, "I need you here" or "put your name on this line".

6. Let them choose.

Instead of choosing between (a) hiring you, and (b) not hiring you, give them two (not more than three) choices that are all good for you:

"So do you want to get started with the trust AND the lease right now or just the trust?"

"Would you prefer to take care of all of this now or half now and half in 60 days?"

"Would you like to start on Tuesday or is Thursday better for you?"

7. If they hesitate, remind them of their pain.

If you start filling out the agreement and they say they’re not sure or not ready, remind them about when they came to see you in the first place. "You did say you wanted to protect your children, didn’t you?"

Most people don’t shop and compare lawyers. If someone hesitates to sign, the odds are they either can’t afford you or they don’t want to spend the money. 

If they can’t afford you

a. Show them how they CAN afford you (payments, credit cards), or
b. Offer them a lower-cost partial solution (another service), or
c. Refer them to a young colleague.

If they don’t want to spend the money, it’s your fault, not theirs.

As a professional advisor, your job is to persuade people to take action that you believe is in their best interests. In fact, you have a duty to do so. This means you must use all of your energy and creativity to show them the benefits of going forward, as well as the detriments if they don’t. 

Prove to them that the cost of NOT hiring you is far greater than what you charge. The burden of proof is yours.