You’ve been speaking with a prospect for a while in your trade show booth. You’ve got a sense of their goals and their pain, and it seems like your offering is a great fit for their business. You’re all ready to set a date for a product walkthrough or start discussing contract terms, but then your prospect says something that stops you in your tracks. “Can we talk about this next quarter? It’s just not a good time for us to buy right now.” Great. Not only is this a deal you had in your pipeline, but you’ve also sunk a significant amount of time working with your prospect. And now they’re not going to buy?
“Now isn’t a good time” is a common objection. It’s often used as a stalling technique or when a prospect’s hoping you’ll go away. (Hint: A prospect who wants to buy but truly can’t right now will proactively let you know their timeline and exactly what’s blocking them.) So how should you respond? This objection is most often raised when a prospect doesn’t feel a sense of urgency or hasn’t seen enough value in your offering to buy. Use these 15 responses to get to the heart of your prospect’s hesitation.
1) If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to start with our product today?
If your prospect says no, they don’t think your product is valuable. Find out why. If your prospect says yes, dig deeper to discover what logistical hurdles are standing in their way.
2) What’s holding you back?
By getting your prospect to talk through their reasoning, you’ll be in a better position to address their hesitation.
3) When would be a good time to buy?
If your prospect's answer doesn't sound all that different from their current circumstances, follow up with #9.
4) What are your company’s other priorities right now?
It’s possible that your prospect has several other pressing projects that need to be completed. If you have the whole picture, you’ll be able to tell how much of an impact your offering can really make right now, or even better -- how your product can help achieve the other goals. If it turns out your prospect’s goals are being pushed aside by management, follow up with #5.
5) How can I help you get the resources you need to sell this to the decision maker?
Determine where your prospect’s having difficulty gaining traction, then help get internal buy-in.
6) So is X goal no longer a priority for you?
Tie your product to a tangible goal you and your prospect have discussed. This question moves the discussion away from the actual purchase process and back to the story of how your offering can improve your prospect’s business. Follow up with #7 and #8.
7) What happens to those goals if you don’t act now?
What’s your prospect’s Plan B? Maybe they have a good one, and in that case your offering may not be a good fit. But making your prospect realize they have no other way of solving their problems will get you back in the game.
8) When are you hoping to achieve X goals by?
If your prospect can’t define this, you’re either talking to them in the education stage or their problems aren’t severe enough to warrant solving right now. But if they need to hit a goal in the next three months, there's clear pain to be addressed.
9) If I call you back next quarter, what circumstances will have changed?
Maybe your prospect is in the middle of a massive internal initiative and doesn’t have bandwidth to talk to you right now. Maybe your prospect is waiting on a round of funding to come in.
Or maybe they’re just stalling.
Get your prospect to evaluate whether anything -- their budget, their priorities, their goals -- is actually going to be different when you next speak. If they’ll truly be ready to pull the trigger then, why not now?
10) What’s going to be different next quarter?
A broader, rhetorical spin on #9. Question your prospect’s motivations for brushing you off without coming right out and saying it.
11) How are you performing against your end-of-year goals [as they relate to your product]?
A good way to remind your prospect why they were talking to you in the first place. A prospect who saw absolutely no problem with their current business wouldn’t have taken your call. Delaying a purchase will only make those problems worse.
12) Here’s the timeline for ROI if we start in X months. Does that work for you?
There’s that sense of urgency again. Remind your prospect that implementing a new product doesn’t produce overnight results.
The question here is implicit -- can they really afford to wait to buy?
“I hit the mute button and wait to see how my prospect continues,” says Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot.
A prospect with a real objection will ask, “Are you there?” or wait for you to follow up, says Tyre. But if your prospect starts to waffle more or talking in a stream-of-consciousness, it's a good sign they’re just brushing you off.
14) Do you understand [product’s] value?
“In all my years of selling, nobody’s ever said no,” says Tyre.
Follow up with #15 to really drive this point home.
15) Which part of [product] 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. It can also trigger important red flags -- for example, if you’ve been focusing on one area of your product but they bring up an entirely different area, it’s a sign you need to restart the conversation on different terms.
How do you respond when a prospect tells you it's a bad time to buy? Let us know in the comments below.
Guest Blogger: Leslie Ye. Leslie is a staff writer for HubSpot's sales blog.