BY BILL FAETH
You’ve had a prospect in your pipeline for a while, the relationship is strong, and you feel that you have a good sense of their goals and challenges—and most importantly, it seems like your service is an excellent fit for their business.
You’re ready to set a date to deliver a proposal/contract—but then, your prospect says something that stops you in your tracks.
“Can we talk about this next month/quarter? It’s just not a good time for us right now.”
Crap. Not only have you been working hard on this deal, but you also need it badly and have invested a significant amount of time into pursuing this client. Many times this tactic is used by a prospect to stall or even walk away from the deal.
However, there are often valid and authentic obstacles such as budget, price, timing, or factors out of their control that are preventing a prospect from buying. This is why it’s essential to build real relationships, listen intently, and maintain a level of empathy in all communication with prospects—no matter what their reasoning is for backing out of a deal.
But how can you overcome these issues? Using the responses below, you will be able to truly learn what your future client’s true objections are. Think of the first NO as the trial close and follow up with one of these.
Responding to a Sales Objection
Timing-related sales objections can be deflating and challenging to overcome, but armed with the follow-ups below, you will keep the cycle moving toward a closed win. Always consider the sale objection as genuine and be extremely empathetic as you really don’t know for sure if it is legit or not.
If you can be thoughtful, manage the tone of your response (even if you believe the objection is bull), and sustain empathy, then you will become effective in keeping your prospects engaged and on good terms. Let’s dive into your sales objection response options.
1. “If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to sign a contract today?”
If your prospect says “no thanks” to your offer, then they may not be convinced that your service is the best fit for them. If that’s the case, find out why. If your prospect says “yes,” dig deeper to discover what logistical hurdles are standing in their way to determine whether or not you can accommodate and move them through the sales cycle.
2. “What’s holding you back?”
Don’t necessarily expect a direct answer. This follow-up question is designed to start an open and honest dialogue between you and the prospect to find some middle ground that will benefit both parties.
3. “When would be a good time to buy?”
Maybe your prospect really does want or intend to buy, but due to factors like budget, red tape, or other reasons, they just can’t swing it. Depending on their response to this follow-up question, you might be able to adjust your offering to tailor it to their needs now, or you can follow up in a way similar to the points below.
4. “How can I help you get the resources you need to sell this to the final decision-maker?”
Determine where your prospect’s having difficulty gaining traction with their leader and/or team, then help get internal buy-in. If your prospect is still putting on the breaks, then you most likely are not dealing with the decision-maker at this point and need to identify who this is.
5. “If I call you back next month/quarter, what circumstances will have changed?”
This objection will be used a lot in today’s economy, and COVID will be to blame. Instead, get your prospect to evaluate whether anything—their budget, their priorities, their goals—will really be different when you speak in the future to determine whether or not they really want and need you to follow up, whether you can accommodate their needs now by adjusting the deal, or if you just think they’re stalling to back out of the deal entirely. If you determine it is the latter, you need to adjust their priority and value in your pipeline.
6. “Do you understand the value I’m presenting to you?”
In all my years of selling, nobody’s ever said no. Follow up with the next response to drive this point home.
7. “Which part of the service offerings I’ve presented do you think would help your company the most?”
This question gets your prospect to reiterate their goals and forces them to tell you why your product is a good fit for them instead of making them listen to you talk about it, and also shifts their mindset from negative to positive.
It can also trigger critical red flags: For example, if you’ve been focusing on one area of your services, but they bring up an entirely different area, it’s a sign you need to restart the conversation on different terms to re-engage them.
8. “Is it the timing, or is something else concerning you?”
A timing objection may be a smokescreen, but it could also be genuine in today’s climate. To find out what’s holding your prospect back, ask this question.
The prospect will either say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m worried about [different issue]...” or, “It’s not a good time to buy because [valid reason] ...”
In both cases, you’ll likely uncover the real issue, which you can focus on working to resolve.
Respond to Your Prospects Effectively and Empathetically
The most important part of sales is listening and then responding considerately. These days, there are an array of reasons why a prospect may try or decide to back out of a deal. Try experimenting with some of the responses above that shows them you’re flexible, understanding, and empathetic. With this winning combination, your prospects will have an increasingly difficult time walking away from the value you provide.
It would be great if sales followed a predictable pattern from start to finish, but we all know that isn’t realistic. With so much in flux right now, how you respond to an objection can make all the difference in understanding your prospect’s needs and sealing the deal.
Bill Faeth is the founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.