I’d Like to Think About It (Issue 546)

In which we are reminded to take some time…before we make a recommendation.

Philips Fine Paint and Wall Covering is a wonderful store-front paint and interior decorating store on Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord.  The place used to be Philips Hardware. The owners decided to get more specific (good move!) and provide higher value products and services, including interior design.  Thus, “Fine Paint and Wall Covering.”

One Saturday morning, I walked into the store with a small paint chip and asked for help matching the color for our kitchen wall.  A little touch up. After I answered a few questions, the ‘paint guy’ made a recommendation, matched the color, mixed the paint, and sent me home. Good news!  It matched. He made a good call, mixed the right stuff, and all was well.

It could have happened another way after I answered a few questions. The ‘paint guy’ could have said, “I’d like to think about it and come back to you with my recommendations.”

At first blush, that would seem goofy, right?  “Listen, buddy, here’s the chip, find the color, mix me up, badda-bing, badda-boom, I’m on my way.”

On the other hand, his “I’d like to think about it”  response might have prompted me to ask, “What are you thinking?  It’s not  a simple match?”

At which point, he might have said something like, “Well, you mentioned that you last painted the kitchen six years ago and that the room gets a lot of sunlight.  That causes the paint to fade.  You indicated that the paint chip you brought was from the shady side of the room.  If I match that color and you use it on the sunny side of the room, chances are pretty good it won’t match.  I’d like to think about how to address that. Any chance  you can bring me a paint sample from the sunny side of the room?

Well!  That would put us in a whole different league, I’m thinking.  I’d be feeling a strong sense of value and being cared for.

The words “I’d like to think about it” are very powerful that way.  If the reason for the conversation were a simple one (e.g. “I need a 3-inch natural bristle paint brush”), the sales person may not need to ask many questions or to think about recommendations very deeply. We’d think s/her were nuts if s/he said “I’d like to think about it.”

However, if the reason for conversation were, “I want a new color scheme for my house, it’s our first house and we’re just moving in and we’re on a little bit of a budget” the circumstances are more complex and it might be reasonable for the sales person to ask 10 – 20 questions and then say, “I’d like to think about it.”

Same with selling financial services.  Simple conversation – “I want a new corporate check style” – we could probably respond on the spot.

More complex conversation, covering the major elements of a company’s payment cycle, we might feel strong positive about a bank representative who said, “I’d  like to think about our discussion, talk to my colleagues, and come back in three days with a full recommendation.”  Particularly if they showed up in three days!

The point is, even if we could propose on the spot – if we saw it all, knew it all, and could propose it all…. right on the spot,  we’re more likely to generate good ideas,  much more likely to “get it right,” and much more likely to create a sense of thoughtful value if… we say “I’d like to think about it …”

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