Let’s face the facts. If you’re involved in sales, stalls are simply a fact of life. You haven’t been given an objection, but you’re instead getting the sense that they’re just putting off making any decision at all.

When dealing with folks who stall, the first and most important step is to uncover the real reason for the stall. Until you know the reality of the situation, you cannot possibly overcome it.

In order to find out the true reason for stalling, you must utilize some effective probing. Here are some questions that you should have ready to roll off your tongue:

  • “Can you tell me more about…?”
  • “How are you currently handling…?”
  • “What is your feeling about…?”

By using open-ended questions such as these, you will encourage dialogue and eliminate the shutdown you may encounter when using closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

The reality is that there are many valid reasons for prospects to stall. For instance, an accounting firm might stall about making a decision for an office renovation because the decision comes smack in the middle of tax season. Their plates are full, their minds are distracted and a stall about making a decision is entirely valid.

However, more often stalls beg for clarification. Here are some statements to watch out for:

  • “I have to think about it.”
  • “I’m not certain. Let me talk about it with…”
  • “Call me in a few weeks/months.”
  • “Not now/maybe later.”

These classic stall statements provide you with little or no insight into a prospect’s “real” situation and require you to probe for more insight. Here’s how to respond:

  • “Can you please clarify what exactly you need to think about?”
  • “What’s going to be different next week/next month?”
  • “How about you and I speak with (the decision maker) together?”

Are you thinking that these types of responses might be too aggressive? If you remember that your objective is to uncover the reason for the stall, you will clearly see that these questions are essential for finding out the information you need in order to do your job effectively.

A prospect’s stall might be based on the fact that she doesn’t see enough value or that he’s just really not sold yet. By uncovering his or her need for more information, you put yourself in a better position to make the sale. Remember: You can’t lose something you don’t have, and since you haven’t yet won the sale, you can’t be at risk by probing for information.

No one likes to deal with stalls, but they are a very real part of the sales dance. Get used to it, get comfortable with it, and by employing these techniques, you’ll find yourself in the driver’s seat and winning more sales than you ever thought you could.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Adrian Miller is the founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training. To find out more or to visit her blog go to http://adrianmiller.wordpress.com.