The Ben Franklin Sales Close, For When They Say 'We Want to Think It Over'

The Ben Franklin close. For when they say "We want to think it over."

When a prospect says "We'd like some time to think it over", that's the time to use the Ben Franklin close. Every salesperson I have ever worked with has heard that phrase and in fact has used it themselves too. There are two types of "Think it over". Good salespeople can spot the difference and act accordingly. They're the one's who come away with the deals.

Here are the two types:

1. The fob off "Think it over"

That's the one when they don't want what you're selling or they don't get the right feeling from you personally. That's when you just chalk it up to experience and move on. Selling is a numbers game - NEXT!

2. The bungy effect "Think it over"

"Come to the edge he said. But we are afraid. Come to the edge he said. They came, and he pushed them, and they flew".

- Apollinaire

Science has proven that human's are born with only two natural fears. One is loud noises and the other is falling. When we are about to make a big ticket purchase, it's natural for us to hesitate before we jump. This confuses many salespeople because even though they know they have done an excellent presentation. Even though the prospect nodded and agreed all the way through and you just know they will get lots of benefit from owning or using your product or service. Even when they are obviously right at the point of saying yes, they utter those immortal words "We'd like some time to think it over". You also know that once they leave, it is more than likely they won't be coming back.

So what do you do? You use the Ben Franklin close.

Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant businessman. Whenever he had an important decision to make, he used a very simple decision making process. I read this many years ago and immediately realised its enormous potential. I knew that the time to use it was when I could see my prospects really wanted what I was selling but were about to say they wanted to think about it.

You say to them at that point; "Mr. Smith. Before you leave to think it over, would you give me just two minutes? Perhaps I can help clarify what it is you need to think about". You then bring out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On one side you write "Reason's why" and on the other side "Why not". If you feel you need to, while you're drawing you can say something like "Just humour me for two minutes Mr. Smith. I think you'll find this really helpful".

You then ask him to repeat all the reasons (Benefits) as to why he should go ahead with the purchase. If you have done a good job of answering his six questions in the purchaser's flight path (See my article on The purchaser's flight path. Six questions you must answer otherwise they won't buy from you) during your presentation and if you are reasonably sure he wants what you are selling and he should buy it now, then he should give you six or seven solid reasons to go ahead. If he can't think of them all, feel free to remind him of those he's missed by saying "And you did say it would free up more of your time to spend with your family didn't you Mr. Smith? Shall we add that to this side of the list?"

Now you must give him the opportunity to tell you why he may not want to go ahead with the purchase. More often than not, the price will feature here. Understand that the price is rarely the main concern. After all, he will pay a similar price elsewhere if he eventually does buy. Or a lower price for an inferior product (according to what he just told you was really important to him). "And you did agree that this model has all the features you need didn't you Mr. Smith?" Once the lists are finalised and if you have done a good job of matching product with purchaser, then you usually won't need to say anything much at this point.

A picture tells a thousand words and the picture shows seven things in the reasons why column and often only one or two in the why not column. To close the sale here and now, without losing him because he walked away to "Think it over", you simply point at the paper with it's lopsided list and say "Don't you think that picture tells you all you need to know Mr. Smith? Why don't you just go ahead and order it?" Or if you prefer a softer close, after the words "tells you all you need to know" in the sentence above you would add "What do you think you should do Mr. Smith?"

Remember that the whole point of this exercise is to avoid people walking away from a purchase both you and they know is right for them. If it really is right and the only problem is their natural hesitation, then it is your duty as a professional salesperson, once they have brought themselves to the edge of the bungee, to encourage them to jump, knowing that they will fly!

Keep in mind that you cannot sell anything to someone if they really don't want it. If at this point you have misread the situation and they really don't want what you are selling, they will let you know. No big deal. Simply thank them for their time and wish them well in finding what they do want.


Why are two thirds of big money lottery winners broke within two years of winning? Paul is an international speaker and sales trainer, originally from the UK and now based in New Zealand. After more than 20 years in sales and business coaching, Paul explains why all the technical skills in the world won't help a person with low self esteem/ confidence. Success in any area of life is 80% mind game and 20% skill and knowledge. Check out Paul's website an...

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