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“Let me think about it” can buy time, but it serves other functions you need to know, too.

Maybe you’re just trying to meet your sales quota and convince one more customer to make a buy. Or perhaps the stakes are higher and you’re after hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. Whatever the case, hearing “Let me think about it” is bound to give you a sense of uneasiness. Are you missing something? What in the world do they mean when they tell you they’ll think about it, anyway?! If you could just decipher that, you’d know better how to move ahead.

 1. I need time to get more information.

 Sometimes the people you proposition or sell to can be genuinely interested, but they feel like they don’t have all the data necessary to make an educated decision. For example, say you’re in the business of solar panels. They might want to look at their utility statements to see exactly what they’re paying for electricity in their area to see more precisely what their savings could be.

 What to do: Look at service requests, surveys, feedback forms and even social media sessions to make your pitch more comprehensive. Anticipate the questions your listener likely will have for their specific circumstances, and if necessary, gather tools such as mobile applications that can help you answer in customized ways in real time. If you still hear “Let me think about it”, ask if they’re lacking particular information. Offer to find that data for them and set up another time to talk. This way, they feel like you’re an advocate, and you won’t run the risk of them putting your pitch on the back burner and blowing you off.

 2. I need more time to consider all the information I have.

 Even if a person has all the data they *should* need to give you an answer, that’s only half the story. They might want to make sure figures are from an accurate source, for instance, or there could be multiple ways your information could be interpreted or applied. And that’s before you consider that there’s an emotional component to decision making. They might resist giving a direct reply right away because they want to make sure their choice isn’t a knee-jerk, gut reaction.

 What to do: Tell your listener they’re smart not to rush into a decision. Set a specific date and time where you can follow up by phone, email, chat or text.

 3. You haven’t addressed a concern or need I have.

 Don’t assume this means you need to barrage your listener with more facts. Psychological elements often come into play here. For example, maybe an item is within a customer’s budget, but because they grew up with nothing, they’re honestly just scared of spending money.

 What to do: Tell your listener it seems like there’s an issue or consideration you haven’t gotten to yet. Ask them politely but directly what that issue is, and be empathetic. Doing this gives them the opportunity to face whatever might be holding them back while you are there to encourage them.

 4. I want you to think I’m smart.

 A rather obvious implication behind “Let me think about it” is that your listener will…well, think. And thinking suggests that the listener has some degree of intellect. Your listener might say they need time just to give the impression that they’re more advanced or serious, or to avoid coming off as too emotionally driven in their decision. In some cases, this can boil down to either the need to feel powerful/superior–that is, to be the alpha–or a fear of being rejected for a lack of intelligence. In both cases, it all relates back to very basic survival instincts and social dynamics.

 What to do: Acknowledge that wanting additional time for consideration is an intelligent move, but then point out how the listener already has demonstrated an understanding of the situation or offer over the course of the conversation. Suggest that, based on the factors you list, they really are ready to make a call about what to do.

 5. I’m not interested and want to turn you down politely.

 Not everyone is confident enough to come right out and be honest that they don’t want to buy or be part of a project. They say they’ll think about it just to let you save face and spare you the embarrassment of being told no outright. They also can resort to this type of denial because saying a flat no requires some bravery and they don’t feel safe enough with you to be upfront.

 What to do: As when your listener needs more consideration time, ask for a follow-up appointment. If they dodge multiple appointment times you suggest, that’s a decent sign they’re shy about a direct no. You can cut your losses and move on so don’t waste your time, but you also can suggest they take your card or ask if they’re interested in exchanging email information. Propose that, even if they decide your offer isn’t for them, they can pass on your info to someone they know, or you can stay in touch for future opportunities.

 People can say “Let me think about it” for a variety of reasons, but in each case, you have some power to direct what happens next. Use these strategies consistently to keep good opportunities from slipping away.

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