In my opinion, getting someone to commit their time is one of the hardest things you need to do. It’s very common to hear “I don’t have the time to do this right now” or “This is too much right now, call me back in 6 months.” While this may be a genuine concern, in most cases it’s simply a result of being either overwhelmed or realizing that a project may take longer than they bargained for.
I hear salespeople acquiesce, and set up an appointment for 6 months down the line. This is sometimes necessary, and I used to do it regularly as well. But then I had a perceptual shift: if they just told me all the problems they’re having, and they have a genuine need for the product I’m offering, shouldn’t they want to solve that need now? After all, it’s a problem that’s unlikely to just disappear!
I think this objection can be seen two ways:
- They don’t feel they have enough time to take something like this on, or
- They are happy to accept the status quo, and are change resistant.
The first step in overcoming this leads directly back to my favorite topic: qualification (I’m going to have to write a few articles about that one of these days). Your client may be trying to shut you out, but you should see this as an opportunity for further conversation. After all, by this point, you should already have determined that they have needs, and have positioned (at least to a certain degree) your products.
In my opinion, there are three things to discuss with your client when you receive this kind of objection. All of them are interrelated, and I’m sure you can build a nice conversation around them:
1. What’s changed?
Since they had expressed interest already, and have given you some information about their needs, I think this is a fair question to ask. I’d want to know why they’re postponing their search (or backing out entirely). Something must have changed; perhaps they have more projects now, or perhaps some internal politics have had an impact here. I’d want to know, so that I can either help (and thus hurry it along) or plan accordingly. After all, it’s in my interest to know what’s affecting my pipeline.
If the issue is genuine and you can do nothing about it, then by all means stop there. If you’d like to push some more, you could ask:
2. What happens if you continue as you are?
The issues they mentioned earlier must have some kind of consequences. Usually, those have a direct impact on their bottom line, and cost them in some way. If they continue as they are, you should be able to quantify this as a dollar value for them. Most prospects haven’t done that calculation in such a direct way; they usually know something’s not working as it should, but haven’t worked out the exact numbers. And it usually comes as a shock.
After this kind of conversation, I usually like to go for something more positive:
3. What would happen if you changed now or in the near future?
They came to you because they have a genuine need, and you’ve probably given them a genuine shock with the figures you discussed in the previous point. Now you can provide relief: solving the problem will probably set them back a little in terms of time and resources, but should pay off fairly quickly. Perhaps you can give them an amount they can save (their amount minus your cost minus a guess at implementation cost/time), or perhaps you can even do one better.
This is a good point to position for the future. They might get a large additional benefit out of buying now which they hadn’t factored into these kinds of calculations. This is a good time to highlight those and push (always gently) towards a close.
If, of course, they really don’t have time to do anything now, make sure you book a time to speak with them when they do. My personal method is to agree to a check-in on a regular basis to make sure you’re both still on track, and to keep in touch with the prospect. You can use that time to build the relationship and to make sure your company’s the one they’ll be looking at first.
I hope I’ve been of some help in overcoming this kind of objection. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and, as ever, I wish you all the very best!