First of all, why do you think they said, “I need to think about it.” in the first place?
Granted, sometimes they have no intention of ever buying anything from you and that’s what they say to “drop the subject and move on”, but that’s not what I am talking about here
Here in Part Four, I am discussing those really close calls from your past. The ones who you were 100% or 99.99% sure were about to say yes, but instead said, “I need to think about it.” The Six Dreaded Words.
Let’s get to the bottom line
The number one thing that is happening at the exact moment that they declare a need to think about it is a racing mind and sometimes even a racing heart. When we feel overwhelmed we have three instincts: Fight, Flight, or Freeze
- FIGHT: We worry about making a mistake with our money so we fight our desires to spend.
- FLIGHT: We can’t handle the responsibility and the yes/no internal battle so we just want to leave it behind.
- FREEZE: We simply can’t budge one way or the other and are frozen – mentally and emotionally – and can’t make a decision. The yes/no battle is tied at a draw.
We’ve all been there. It’s chaos. And whether we are feeling Fight, Flight, or Freeze, in all three cases we believe that if we can have more time to think about it we will get beyond all the overwhelming thoughts and be able to make a clear decision later.
However, the problem that arises if you buy into the perception that they will leave, think about it, and get back to you, is that they do NOT give the purchase much thought. They naturally bury the “problem” pretty darn quick. They have experienced Fight, Flight, or Freeze already and why would they want to revisit that messy mess of insecurity and uncertainty and tough decisions. It’s so (SO!) much easier to just let it go.
Therefore, YOU must bring calm to this moment. You must erase the panic and dread and confusion. You must remain calm and assertive.
If you don’t own the guidebook and haven’t been reading the dozens of articles written to date, you might be “fighting” this article and this set of ideas. So let me be clear: sometimes there is a real need to think about it. What I am proposing is creating the atmosphere where you honor that they do need to think about it, but you make an effort to help them think about it NOW.
You need to encourage them to give it “final consideration” while they are still in front of the object of their desire. You should never encourage them to go away to think about it. However, to break their racing mind and emotions, you need to take control.
Being Calm and Assertive can make all the difference
This may seem like an odd analogy, but I am a big fan of Cesar Millan the “Dog Whisperer” and I think he’s on to something with the concept of how to train dogs. (No, I am not saying customers are like dogs! LOL!) What Cesar focuses on is something he calls a Calm and Assertive state of mind. And I think it’s a terrific place to be when you are faced with someone who is backing away, or otherwise wanting to escape the mental effort needed to make a decision.
It is imperative that you do not appear anxious, annoyed, worried, panicky, detached, condemning, or desperate. The list of things you don’t want to project is endless. But when you hear the Six Dreaded Words you may be feeling any combination of this endless list of possible reactions. To what degree you are projecting discontent will depend on what level of disappointment you are experiencing.
Don’t think you are hiding your feelings! We are all (like dogs and cats and other mammals) able to sense what emotions are floating around. You must resist being anything but agreeable, calm, and maintaining control by asserting confidence and a professional demeanor. And don’t try to “act” calm. You need to be calm.
Learn to Slow Everything Down, Regroup, & Breathe when they say, “I need to think about it.” Click To Tweet
The easiest way to move forward calmly with ease and grace is to let them know you have little concern for making a sale, but a lot of concern for them becoming enriched by ownership. It might sound something like this:
“I understand this is a decision that needs deep consideration. Let’s make sure you do some of that before you go. I will get my business card and some other information for you to take with you, and you can stay here with the piece and think through the pluses and minuses. My future won’t change if you say no, but yours will if you say yes. However, because of my (years of) experience in helping people find art for their homes, I know you need some time to really think this over. I will be over here if you have any questions.
And then walk away.
They know you are giving them space to do as you suggested. And 95% of the time they will do as you suggest. Believe it or not, they will take the time to “really think this over.” You just took the pressure and tension and threw it away when you said you were getting your business card. That’s their get-out-of-jail-free card. And they will be thankful that you have given them some space – emotionally and physically.
If you’re working with someone who is solo and the only decision maker, don’t underestimate the power of them having some private think time with your art. If this is a couple, this is imperative.
Couples, especially for expensive purchases or work that will be in a common area of their home, need to be 100% sure that their partner is as positive about ownership as they are. You may never know if one of them loves it and the other hates it, but if you don’t let them take a moment (or ten) to have a private discussion, they won’t know either and leaving is the only option they can “imagine”. Don’t leave them to their own imaginations. Guide them. Be calm, be assertive, and be their true friend and confident. And give them some space to talk while STILL in front of your art.
If they still need to think about it, at least you know you remained in charge of their departure and have worked towards them becoming owners of your art. They feel good about you and how you treated them – calmly and assertively with no drama – and they are much more likely to actually become a collector in the future.
SIDEBAR: Part Five will be the last in this series and will be published per schedule in two weeks. You will want to keep an eye out! It will also be the last article for a little while from the E’s of Selling Art Blog Posts. I am going to take a small hiatus from this column, but I will still be writing the other articles about marketing. I have a couple of BIG projects that need serious time slots and this post already has an entire guidebook available to purchase, The E’s of Selling Art System is available anytime.
That’s really helpful, thanks Mckenna. I don’t think I’d fully grasped the importance of leaving the customer(s) to think in front of the artwork and guiding them to do so. In my studio, I would need to leave the room to give them this kind of space. How long should I give them for before returning?
You’re welcome, Rebecca. You can be very candid about this situation. You can tell them that you will be at the Cafe. Assuming you can still see your business should others head towards your studio? They will come and get you. When I worked in galleries in San Francisco, we had “viewing rooms” aka closing rooms. I would just leave the room and tell them to open the door when they wanted me to return. Calm and Assertive. I never realized until this article, that in fact, that is exactly the way I was treating that “final decision” section of my presentations.
You can also – if it is a framed piece and weather is cooperative, consider creating a private space just outside on a easel. This is what I recommend for art shows, too. If you can have a space, maybe it’s behind your tent, or maybe just outside in the front. If their backs are turned away, they should feel enough privacy and be able to talk among themselves.
Thanks for that. So you just give them as much time as they need and wait to be called back. Cafe a bit too far out of sight but I can improvise… It’s too cold and wet here for outside most of the time! If only I had a viewing room of my own!
I know you will figure it out, Rebecca. Honestly, all they need is a “sense” of privacy. They just need to talk without you being able to hear. That’s it. And yes… give them as much time as they need. This is key. The goal is that they will (if they really want to buy the piece) talk themselves into the purchase if they are encouraged to give it “final consideration” before they leave. The be-back rates are horrid, but quite often, even that is bolstered. Be sure they understand what they are “leaving” behind if they don’t purchase. If this is a monotype or a near to the end limited edition piece, calmly but assertively, tell them to continue to give it deep consideration and to call you the exact moment that they decide to purchase so they lower the risk of disappointment in the future.
This is not pressuring them. This is reminding them that if they are on the fence, they shouldn’t let someone else end up making the decision for them. As I say in the guidebook, the amount of pressure THEY feel is directly proportionate to how deep their sense of desire vs loss of opportunity that THEY feel in the situation.
Certainly hope this helps you find more (good and loving) homes for your art!
I always appreciate when you provide a sample dialog (for when you are walking away to give them time to breathe). Of course I will alter it to suit my situation, but the sample guides me in finding the words that are right for me. Thanks.
I am so happy to hear you say that Susan. I am always concerned that people will not put together any words if I am not giving out some ideas. On the other hand, I don’t want people to just copy what I have said and think it’s one size fits all for every situation. It’s not, of course, as you point out. So thanks for your contribution here. It’s really helpful for me.