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A Phrase You Never Want To Hear In Sales
Pepto Bismol
By John Barrows | June 21, 2017

“I’ll need some time to digest what you just said.”

As a younger, less experienced rep, I used to think this phrase was awesome. I would go into a meeting, ask my basic doctor-check-up questions, let the client speak for a few minutes and then I’d jump into my rehearsed, relatively canned “pitch.” I’d start with the history of my company and move on to all the different services we could provide. At the end the client would lean back in their chair, take a deep breath and say “wow, that all sounds really impressive. Let me take some time to digest what you just said and get back to you with my thoughts.” I would walk out of those meetings feeling like I was Captain Sellalot and think to myself “man, that guy was so impressed with what I just told him he didn’t even know what to do.” And therein lies the problem. Since the client didn’t know what to do with the information they didn’t end up doing anything, at least with me.

It took me a while to realize how bad the “digest” response was but it hit me like a ton of brick when it did. I took a closer look at my close rates on the customers who told me this and saw how low they actually were. Thankfully I caught this early enough in my sales career so my approach didn’t do too much damage. I started to understand, to a certain degree, that ‘digest’ is a big part of what Sales is, always has been and always will be. Sales is about helping people break down information so they can make better decisions to positively impact their business.

Since I’ve adopted this new mindset it has definitely had a positive impact on my career. People appreciate someone with knowledge and information, but they value someone who can help them make sense out of it. If you can help a client understand the information needed to make better decisions and do so in a genuine way, then you can really make a difference. This also means being honest about what your solution can/can’t do and where it does/doesn’t fit.

There are many other responsibilities we have in Sales but put “digest” towards the top of the list. If you hear this word from the client you haven’t done your job and you probably won’t close that sale. By the way, what prompted this blog post was an e-mail I received from a client after asking about next steps. He responded with “I need to digest a bit amongst the customer meetings this week and travel next week. I will connect with you by the end of the month.” I will put money on the fact that I don’t close this one.

Good luck and make it happen!

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  • Jack Roney

    Great post and something I too am guilty of. I did some digging and found that most of my closed accounts also have this response somewhere in our conversation. Instead of giving them a broken down answer to their immediate need – I gave them a full course meal in hopes they were impressed. When it comes down to it, they don’t need to be impressed – they need an answer to their problem.

  • Eric Thiessen

    Normally, this sort of disconnect would be addressed during the prospect qualification process, where one should have a two sided dialogue that would apply the sales solutions/products etc directly to the clients’ wants/needs etc. Otherwise, one really hasn’t properly qualified the opportunity/prospect/acct.
    However, as you have pointed out in other posts, the rep must be careful to not give away too much information etc during the process while receiving nothing in return.

  • Eliran

    Thanks for the great read, John!

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