By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you prospect regularly, a common push back you get from potential buyers is “it’s not a good time”, or “the timing is wrong”, or any variations on that theme. In some instances it makes sense, calling an accounting firm in the March April timeframe, or a school supply company in August; these are times those companies are busy executing, having made purchase decisions much earlier in the cycle.
With only 15% or so of your market being in play, that is actively out there “buying”, and 70% being in what is commonly called Status Quo, ostensibly not looking, it is a safe bet that 70% of the “time” the timing is not right. I say ostensibly, because there is a lot of opportunity and buyers to be found in that large group called Status Quo, the fact that they are satisfied with their current state, does not mean they won’t buy, no matter what some pundits tell you. Satisfied is a long way away from ecstatic; there is a lot of room for improvement and your offering between those two points, don’t settle for satisfied. The problem is that too many sales people allow the statement about timing to throw them off or give up on an opportunity, not just for themselves, but for the buyer, and by extension the buyer’s company and objectives.
“75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.” ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’ Bell & Patterson
What the Status Quo prospect is saying is that they don’t have time to waste on another value proposition, or you history of accomplishments. They want to know how to move past satisfied, which you could do if you could surface their objectives, and what they feel is in the way.
For those 70% of the time where by definition your timing is “not good”, you need to counter it in a way that acknowledges your understanding of their statement, but allows you to put the onus on them not to prevent that from them taking action. Left to their own devices, it will never be the right time until it is too late, they go to market, and you are part of a crowd willing to drop their pants and sell at a discount. Not for you, the time is now.
The simplest and most effective way to do that is to move the discussion off time and on to their objectives. Understanding why people buy, why they have bought from you and/or your company is key, and one of the great benefits of reviewing all deals, wins, losses, and draws.
You can start and create a gateway by asking “is it ever a good time? With all the things we have on the go, it is difficult to have time for everything.” Pause, and using the above, and specifics tied to your market and offering, “if you had to create time, and complete the number one item on your list, what would that be? At the same time, what’s something that you could drop from that list without much impact on your business?”
By listening with an open mind and a blank canvas, you can begin to understand and discuss what their priorities and objectives are, and how you can impact those. As with most prospecting calls, the goal is to secure an appointment, not to sell, this will put you in a position to assess the opportunity and secure an appointment. You’ll have a sense as to objectives and current barriers, and how you may add value.
As with most things in sales it is not 100% full proof and is usually done hand in hand with other steps that need to be executed, but it will allow you take a common objection and turn it into a sales call.
What’s in Your Pipeline?