How to Handle the References Stall

How do you handle it when a prospect asks you for a reference? Do you dutifully provide them with a list of clients they can call? And, if you do, how many of your prospects actually call those references? More importantly, do those prospects that call references ever close?

In my experience when a prospect asks me for references they rarely – if ever – become clients. It’s not that my references are bad (you’ll going to see a rebuttal you can use that will address this) in fact, the references I give are of raving fans that have used me to great impact both professionally and personally. But still, in my experience, references don’t help close the sale.

The reason for this is that asking for references always means the same thing: your prospect isn’t sold on your company or solution. When they ask you for a reference, they have something particular in mind that they want to know more about, and they suspect that you (or your company) can’t provide it. Because of this, asking for a reference is just a way to stall so they can continue to do research on other companies to find the one that addresses their main (and hidden) concern.

That’s why more than half of prospects who ask for a reference don’t ever call them.

So the way to handle the reference stall (which is what it really is) is to isolate it and get your prospect to reveal what the real concern is. And the way to do that is to use one of the scripts below:

Stall: “Do you have some references I could call?”

Response One:

“Absolutely. As you can imagine, I have a folder filled with happy and satisfied clients. But _________, let me ask you – do you think I would give you a bad reference?”

[Let them respond]

“Of course not. I’m only going to give you clients who love us and what we do for them. So what that tells me is that there is something you’re either not convinced will work for you yet, or that you don’t think this is quite the fit you’re looking for. So, while you have me on the phone, please, level with me – what’s the real issue that’s holding you back?”

Response Two:

“I’d be happy to provide you with a reference or two, and let me ask you: if after you speak with them you hear what you need to hear, are you going to move forward with us and put us to work for you?”

[If yes]

“Great! Then hang on just a moment and let me get a client on the phone, and I’ll conference you in. After you’re done with your conversation, we can get you signed up…”

Response Three:

“_________, when someone asks you for a reference for your company or service, have you ever found that some people never even call the references?”

[Let them respond]

“And don’t you get the feeling that there is just something that’s holding them back and they just aren’t quite sold on your company yet?”

[Let them respond]

“Well, since you’ve got me on the phone right now, why don’t you tell me what’s holding you back or what you’re concerned with, and I’ll see if I can answer it for you.”

Response Four:

“I’d be happy to. Now ________, as you might imagine, I’ve got all different kinds of clients using this, so do me a favor: let me know the things that are concerning you, and I’ll then match you up with the right reference who can address those things for you.”

As you can see – when someone asks you for a reference, the most important thing you can do is isolate this stall and get your prospect to reveal what the real concern is. Unless you find out what that is, not only will your prospect not call your reference, but they may never call you back again either…

What the Price Objection Really Means

Of all the objections sales reps get, the “price is too high” is still number one on the list. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean think about your own purchases – whether you’re in the market for a new car, a new house, or even a dinner out with the family – what’s the one common component of your own buying decisions? Budget, right?

So it makes sense that all of your prospects have a budget consideration as well. But be careful because the price objection doesn’t always mean that your prospect can’t afford it. In fact, the price objection is often the biggest smokescreen objection of all – meaning that prospects throw it out to hide what the real objection is. And the reason they use it is because it works: again, everyone understands budget concerns because we all have them…

Top producers know how to go beyond this smokescreen objection and uncover what the real objection is. And once you understand what the price objection really means, you will gain a unique insight into how to deal with and overcome it. Here are five ‘hidden meanings’ your prospect doesn’t want to reveal when they tell you that your price is too high – and what you should do about them:

[Learn how to discover and overcome the price objection with Mike’s Free Webinar: “How to Overcome the Price Objection” on Thursday, July 30th, at 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific. Register Here]

1) They don’t see the value in what you are selling. Often when a prospect tells you that the price is too high, what they’re really saying is that based on what you’re telling them they’re getting, they don’t feel the spend is justified. This often means that you either:
a. Didn’t completely understand their buying motives and so didn’t show how your solution addresses them, or:
b. You didn’t build enough value in the results they are going to get as a result of making the purchase.

Solution: After you’ve clarified that this indeed the case, then it is up to you to go back and build that value by pitching specific points and tying them down to make sure your prospect sees and buys in to the value.

2) They believe they can get it cheaper somewhere else. With the Internet making your solution available to nearly anyone – or a solution your prospect thinks is the same – it’s difficult to compete on price.

Solution: The solution here is in first discovering that your prospect has another option in mind and then doing the straight forward comparison of “services for services.” This used to be called an “apples to apples” close and it’s still highly effective – if it’s presented correctly. The key, however, is to be able to determine whether that’s the issue and then use a properly worded script do the comparison.

3) They actually can get it cheaper somewhere else. This can seem difficult to at first handle, because after all if they can get it cheaper somewhere else, why wouldn’t they do it?

Solution: To answer this question, just ask yourself what motivates you to pay a premium for a product or service you know you could get less expensively elsewhere. Reasons can include:
 a. Getting it from a more well-known source often means that handling any problems, questions or returns is easier.
b. Buying something from a person or company you respect or like is often another reason to go with a higher priced item.
c. Convenience: Sometimes it’s easier or less time consuming to buy a product or service from a source you know and trust – even if you have to pay a bit more.
d. Quality of product. Often times a knock off or generic product is available, but those sometimes don’t come with all the support, instructions, warranty, etc., that you can get buy paying a bit more from the manufacturer.
e. You. The only place your customer can get you – your knowledge, your customer support, your belief and your desire to stand behind your product and make any problems right – is by buying it from your company and doing business with you. This is a powerful buying reason and one sales reps routinely underestimate…

4) Price is just a smokescreen hiding other objections. Often times prospects are not ready or willing to move forward with a purchase for a host of different reasons: If they are a business, then initiatives can change, or personnel changes, timing, scheduling, etc., also affect purchases. Or, for both individuals and companies, there can be multiple decision makers with different objectives, or prospects decide to keep looking or delay or postpone the decision for many other reasons as well.

When prospects don’t want to reveal what is really stopping them from making a decision, they will often just throw out the price objection because it works. Revealing anything else would require an explanation, but saying it costs too much, or that they simply can’t afford it, usually gets sales people off their back.

Solution: The key here is to find a way to get your prospects to reveal what is really behind their decision not to buy and then effectively deal with that.

5) They actually can’t afford it. Sometimes the price objection is just as it sounds: your prospect can’t afford – or chooses not to afford – your product or service. If this turns out to be the case, then it’s something you should have addressed during qualifying.

Solution: Top producers always qualify for budget – among five other things – and they know in advance if a prospect can afford their solution. If you have qualified correctly in the beginning, and you still get the price objection, then you can be sure it’s a smokescreen hiding items one through four above.

As you can see, the price objection isn’t always about the price, but rather, it often means something else. Your job as a closer is to be prepared with a scripted approach to find out exactly what the real reason is, and so position yourself to overcome it.

If you would like some scripts to help you uncover what your prospects mean when you get the price objection, then Sign Up Here for our brand new Webinar: “How to Overcome the Price Objection.”

You will learn six proven scripts that will help you deal with and overcome the price smokescreen. This Webinar is on Thursday, July 30th, at 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific. Mark your calendars and Register Now.

How to deal with, “I’ll have to speak with…”

There are a few objections that seem – at first glance – almost impossible to overcome: “I want to think about it,” is one of them – but a close second has to be the “I’ll have to speak with….” someone else – a supervisor, regional manager, spouse, etc. In this case, like the one before it, the prospect isn’t objecting, per se, but they aren’t saying yes either. In both cases, however, they are stalling the sale and if your experience is like many others, then you know that a stalled sale often doesn’t close. So what to do?

First of all, I hope you anticipated this stall and even gained some insight and leverage for it by uncovering it during the qualifying stage. A simple question like, “And besides yourself, who weighs in on the decision on something like this,” would be enough to expose who all is involved in the decision process. Once you do, you can use any of the layering questions I’ve written about in other articles.

But if you have found this out and you still get this stall when you ask for the deal at the end of your presentation, then you don’t want to say what 80% of your competition says when they get this objection which is, “When should I check back with you?” Instead, you’ll want to begin to delve into the stall and gain more insight into whether it’s something that will potentially kill the deal, or if you can learn enough about the other person or process to properly access if this has the potential to turn into a sale and what it might realistically take to do so.

So the key to this stall is to begin questioning your prospect to learn as much as you can about the other person’s buying motives and their process. As you begin asking some of the questions below, you’ll find that the more information they have about the other person’s process, the more likely it is they are involved in the buying decision, and the less they know, the less involved they generally are and, unfortunately, the less likely it is they can influence them. Choose any of the questions below and use as many of them as appropriate. As always, spend some time to customize them to fit your product or service and your personality.

Objection: “I’m going to have to speak with my regional manager,”

Questions:

“Based on what you know about them, what is their timeline for acquiring this?”

OR

“And what sort of timeline are they dealing with for putting something like this to work for you?”

OR

“Share with me a little bit about the process they’ll go through to make a decision on this?”

OR

“Are they looking specifically for something like this right now, or are they in the information gathering stage?”

OR

“What do you think some of the questions are that they’ll have on this?”

OR

“Is this something they specially tasked you to find, or are you going to be bringing this to them on your own?”

OR

“What questions can you see them having on this?”

OR

“Based on what I’ve shown you, do you think this is something they will approve?”

OR

“What concerns can you see them having on this?”

OR

“Does he/she tend to make quick decisions on something like this?”

OR

“What would be the biggest reason they wouldn’t move on something like this?”

OR

“What would be the biggest reason they would go for this?”

OR

“Is your regional manager (wife/supervisor) generally supportive of your recommendations?”

OR

“Who besides your supervisor would be weighing in on this decision?”

OR

“Would it be O.K. for me to speak with them directly to answer any questions?”

OR

“I know you’re going to explain this to them, but I don’t want you to do my job for me, so I’d be happy to reach out to them directly if that would be alright with you?”

OR

“What would be the best way for me to help them come to a positive answer on this?”

OR

“What would you recommend is the best way I can help them see the value in this?”

OR

“Can we do a conference call right now with them to just see what their initial reaction to this is?”

OR

“Based on the other suggestions you’ve taken to them, what do you think their reaction on this will be?”

OR

“You like this solution, right? And I take it you’ll be recommending it to them, then?”

OR

“Since we both think this solution will work for you, how can you and I persuade them to agree to go with us on this?”

As you can see from these questions, just because your prospect says they need to speak with someone, it doesn’t mean that you have to go away. Instead, by asking questions and delving into the buying process and the decision making process, you’ll learn what it’s going to take for you to advance and close the sale.

The Only Qualifying Question You May Need

I was working with a client the other day listening to one of their rep’s qualifying call, and when the rep presented the cost of the product and asked if that fit within the prospect’s budget, the prospect gave an interesting answer. She said:

“Well maybe, but it depends. I’ll have to first see if what you have will work well enough for us to make the switch.”

Question for you: What would you say next? In the call I was reviewing, the rep then said they should schedule a demo of the product and that during that demo the prospect would learn about how it worked and would then be able to decide. Is that what you would do?

If you said yes, then you’re wrong. Pitching this prospect without having a specific idea of what exactly they are looking for could prove to be a big waste of time. Think about it: why would you want to spend an hour going over a demo wondering (or hoping) that what you said was enough to make them switch? And this leads to the only qualifying question you may need.

The right thing to say here was: “And what specifically would you need to see to determine whether it would be worth switching or not?”

This question (and the other examples below) is the one question that will get your prospect to reveal what their precise buying motive is. And until you understand exactly what it is going to take to earn their business, you’re pitching blind. And this is how most sales reps operate. Many sales reps think the most important thing they can do is get prospects into their pipeline so they can demonstrate their product or service. They think that if they can do enough demos, then they will eventually make more sales.

Smart sales reps – the Top 20% — think much differently. The Top 20% want to know as much as possible in advance of the demo so they can tailor their presentation to the precise buying motives of each prospect. And to do this, they have to ask the qualifying questions which will encourage a prospect to reveal what those buying motives are. The above question is specific to what this prospect said to the rep, but below are some other, more general, questions that will achieve the same goal as well. Find ones that feel comfortable for you to use and then practice, drill and rehearse until they become natural for you:

Qualifying question #1:

“So ________, what specifically would you need to see in our demo next week that would convince you this would be a good fit for you?”

Qualifying question #2:

“And let me ask you this: What specifically would you like me to concentrate on during our presentation next week?”

Qualifying question #3:

“Tell me _________, what area are you most interested in that I can address in detail during our presentation next week?”

Qualifying question #4:

“_________, what is the one thing that you’re hoping this (your product or service) can do for you and your company?”

Qualifying question #5:

“And what would you need to see in the demo next week that would convince you to move forward with this?”

Qualifying question #6:

“Just out of curiosity, what are three main things this (product or service) must do for you before you would decide to go with it?”

Qualifying question #7:

“________ tell me, what one thing could you absolutely not live without – in other words, what must I be able to show you during the demo for you to be able to decide this could actually work for you?”

Qualifying question #8:

“What specifically are you hoping this will be able to do for you?”

Qualifying question #9:

“_________, specifically, what is the one problem you’re having that you hope this can fix for you?”

Qualifying question #10:

“And last, _________, what are you going to be looking to learn more about during our presentation next week?”

As you can see, once you find out exactly what your prospect is looking for, then you’ll be able tailor your presentation to give that to them. Doing this will catapult you into the Top 20% of producers in your company!

How to Overcome the “We tried it before and it didn’t work” objection

Years ago when I first learned how to close sales over the phone, my manager got all the sales reps in the conference room and drew a big circle on the board and put a bull in the middle of it. Then he used his eraser to break the circle, in effect creating openings for the bull to run out of. He explained to us that the ‘doors’ in the circle were objections and stalls the bull would use to escape the circle, and that our job was to answer each objection and close each door thereby blocking every exit of the bull. Once the circle was complete, and the bull could no longer escape the closing circle, he would have no option other than to buy.

While I recognize that this isn’t a very sophisticated analogy and that some people may even think it crude and not representative of today’s interactive and consultative selling approach, I’d like to point out its essential truth: Prospects often going to give you more than one reason not to buy, and it’s your job to be prepared to answer these objections, questions and concerns, close the circle, and repeatedly ask for the order.

The important part of the above paragraph is: “repeatedly ask for the order.” Many sales reps may make one or two attempts to overcome an objection and then give up. And once they do, the “bull” simply walks through one of the remaining open doors and gets away. Only top closers have the fortitude and scripted responses to close ALL the doors and get the prospect to buy. And that’s where having a prepared book of effective scripts comes in.

Today’s objection is a great example. Prospects have many “doors” to escape through, and the objection, “We tried this before and it didn’t work,” is one of them. Many sales reps struggle to overcome this objection, but if you’re prepared for it, it’s easy to close this door. Here’s how:

Objection: “We tried it before and it didn’t work”:

Response:

“I understand, but there’s something you’ve got to keep in mind. Today, technology changes so fast that a solution that came out just a few months ago is seldom comparable to its updated version even this week. You probably see this with apps. Heck, even Facebook comes out with improvements every two weeks, per Facebook. Do you use Facebook?”

[If yes]: “Then you know what I mean.

[If no]: “Well, I’m sure you know what I mean, though.

“But here’s the point: comparing our cutting edge solution to something that you tried 6 months ago – or worse, two years ago! – is like comparing a model T Ford to today’s feature rich automobiles. It simply isn’t the same – and nor will your experience be the same.

Let me point out just two things that we do differently today than you may have been used to in the past….”
[And then point out two or three features you know are perfect for your prospect, then]:

“So here’s what I recommend you do. Let’s get you started on this and you can see for yourself why we’re the number one solution for….”

And there you have it: another door in the circle closed! After you use this close, watch your prospect try to escape through another door, and then simply close that one as well. And soon, once all the doors are closed, you’ll be in the final paperwork, and you’ll have yourself another new client!

How to Follow-Up with Prospects and Win Business

A while ago, my wife and I renovated our new home, and as part of this grueling process we had to get many quotes from all different kinds of people. This ranged from window replacement people, plumbers, electrical contractors, painters, tile companies, contractors, fine craftsman, window treatment companies – the list seemed endless. After they finally showed up and saw the work, their next job was to deliver a quote (usually by email). As a sales trainer, the next part seemed pretty straight forward to me – and that’s for them to follow up on their quotes, right?

Would you believe that over 90% of these people NEVER followed up on their quotes? I am absolutely amazed by that! It makes me understand and believe even more in a card I once saw on sales:

SALES STATISTICS
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
ONLY 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Interesting statistics, aren’t they? I always follow up with prospects – and many, many times as well – and that practice alone has made me more successful than 90% of my competition. And after my recent experience with these contractors, I’m even more convinced that just following up regularly gives you a significant edge over your competition. Here is a sample follow-up campaign (emails and phone calls) I use that you can adapt to your sales cycle:

Email #1:

After my initial phone call with a prospect – whether they want information or links to my website – I always send a separate email thanking them for taking the time to speak with me:

Dear (Prospect’s name),

Thank you for taking a few minutes today to tell me a little about your company and what you are trying to accomplish. It sounds like if I can help you (repeat their specific needs here), then there might be a fit between our companies.

I’ve sent you over the (brochure, specs, job scope, whatever you promised – as well as a meeting request) and look forward to our next conversation on (confirm time for next contact).
If you have any questions before we speak, please don’t hesitate to call me back on my direct dial phone number: (Your number).

Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and I look forward to continuing our conversation next (week).

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Email #2:

My next contact comes two days later. It always includes something that might be of interest to my prospect. Here is a sample email:

Dear (Prospect’s name),

I was thinking about you and thought you would enjoy seeing/reading the following article: (Name of an article, company brochure, white paper, something related to them). I think this is in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you. Once again, my direct phone number is: (Your number).

Looking forward to speaking with you next (day and time of appointment).

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Email #3:

My next contact comes with a phone call on the date we have scheduled to speak next (You DID get a specific day and time for your next contact, right?). Often times before this I will also send out an automatic meeting reminder as well. My opening for this call is very assumptive and avoids common mistakes such as: “I’m just calling to follow up,” or “I’m just calling to see if you had time to read the material I sent you,” or “Did you have time to go through our website?” etc. Instead your opening call should something like:

“Hi _________, this is ________ ________ with (your company), how’s your Monday going?”

You know ________, I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you today. I’m sure you looked over the information I sent and probably have some questions, so tell me, where would you like to start?”

Again, always be assumptive, and obviously vary your opening based on whether you’re doing a demo (re-qualify in this case), or simply assume they’ve done what they committed to doing and then ask a question to get them to reveal what they are thinking.

So, by now – by this second conversation – I’ve reached out to my prospect five times! (The first is the email with my information, the second is the email, “Thanks for taking the time,” the third is the meeting request, the fourth is the next email with additional information or an article, and the fifth is the automatic meeting request. Including this follow-up call, I’ve now reached out to my prospect six times! But this is just the start….

After my presentation, I get a specific day and time to follow up again, and I will send another email article or white paper in-between this. And if my prospect isn’t available when I call back, I call them several times a day during the week until we connect – and, of course, I also send emails.

In addition, any prospect in my pipeline also goes into my Send Out Cards campaign, from which they get a physical greeting card from me in the mail each month until they buy. (See this amazing card system here: www.sendoutcards.com/mrinsidesales)

On average, between emails and phone conversations and meeting reminders, my prospects get between eight to twelve contacts within the first two weeks. And then they get a card in the mail each month as well.

Lastly, if a prospect goes dark during or after this, I always send them my “Should I Stay or Should I go” email which gets me a response over 65% of the time – even when every other method fails to get them to react. Here’s what it is:

Subject line: (Prospect Name) Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dear _________,

I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You’ve filled the position or you’ve already chosen another company for this.

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.

3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up, and in that case please let me know and I’ll call 911 for you…

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry.

Honestly, all kidding aside, I understand you’re really busy, and the last thing I want to do is be pain in the neck once a week. Whether your schedule has just been too demanding or you’ve gone another direction, I would appreciate it if you would take a second to let me know so I can follow up accordingly.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind regards,”

If this email made you laugh, then think about getting your prospects to laugh as well. Again, this email gets over 65% of my prospects to email me back and let me know their status. Try it, it works.

As you can see, having a follow up system – and sticking to it – will put you ahead of over 90% of your competition. And if you’ve qualified a lead properly in the beginning, then this kind of perseverance is often enough to win you the business the majority of the time.

Closing Questions to Isolate the Objection

One of the most effective ways to deal with objections or stalls is simply to ask questions and isolate them. This works because many objections you get when closing are not actually objections at all – instead they’re smokescreens hiding what the real reason or objection is. The reason sales reps have trouble with them is because they believe them and either try to overcome them or simply give up and opt to “call back later.”

What you must do is get to the bottom of what’s REALLY holding a prospect back. Is it because they have a better deal elsewhere? Is it because they know their boss would never let them get a new product or service? Is it because they don’t have the budget or because the price is too high? Is it because they aren’t the real decision maker, or because they aren’t qualified to make the decision on this at all? Is it because their current supplier or agent can always offer them a better price to keep their business? Is it because they don’t know enough about how your particular product or service will really benefit them? Or is it because they think the learning curve will be too disruptive to their business? Is it because they don’t believe in your value prop? You get the idea…

There are many factors that might be standing behind the objection you’re getting, and the only way to effectively overcome them is to know what the real or deciding factor is. And you do that by questioning your prospect. Not in an interrogative way, but rather in a consultative way. You do it with layering questions and assumptive questions. You do it by using or adapting the questions below to fit your product or service and your personality.

From the list below, choose the ones that feel right to you and then adapt them, post them in your cubicle, or record and listen to them until they become second nature:

Closing Questions to Isolate the Objection

“_________, there is something that seems to be bothering you about this – would you mind sharing with me what it is?”

“It sounds like there something else that you’d like to share with me about that. What else should I know about this?”

“What would you say is an example of why you need to think about this?”

“_________, help me get an idea of what you’re thinking about here…”

“Tell me what I need to know so I understand where you’re at on this?”

“What other vendors are you looking at for this?”

“What do you think is the biggest reason for not going with this now?”

“I totally get that you need to (think about it), what one thing about this do you think you’ll need to think about most?”

“You know __________, it sounds like this is really important to you – can you tell me why?”

“How does making a decision on this affect you or your department?”

“__________ what else do I need to know to get the full picture on this?”

“If you went with this and it didn’t work out, how would that affect you?”

“If you went with this and it did work out, how would that affect you?”

“_________, just out of curiosity, how did you get to that?”

“How much of this decision is up to you?”

“And what is your personal perspective on this?”

“Can you tell me a little more about that, please?”

“How does your upper management fit into this?”

“If you decided to go with this, is the budget there?”

“How about you – what are your feelings on this?”

“And how much influence do YOU have?”

“You know, I keep hearing you say X, but I keep feeling that you mean something else. What might that be?”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“How would this fit into your (budget, plans, initiatives,) right now?”

“I think what you’re telling me is __________, is that correct?”

“Don’t you mean “when” it works out?”

“If you’re/they’re a go on this, when would you like to see it implemented?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following you – can you tell me exactly what you mean?”

“How urgent for you (your company) is this right now?”

“__________, from where you’re sitting right now, do you think this is a smart thing to do?”

“Oh, and why not?”

“What would you need to see added to this to make it worthwhile for you?”

“What can I do right now to help you get into this?”

“Level with me, what is really holding you back?”

“What is really standing in the way of us working together?”

“Is there anything that I can do about it?”

“What do you seriously think it is going to take for us to work together?”

“What else should I know?”

As you can see, there are many ways to get your prospect talking to you. There are many ways to get them to open up and reveal what it will take and/or why the deal won’t happen. If you’re not asking some of these questions, then you’re simply letting your prospect put you off, and your pipeline is filling with prospects who likely aren’t going to buy from you.

Take some time right now to adjust four or five of these questions to fit your personality, your product or service, and fit them to the specific objections or stalls that you get. And then use them when that situation comes up. Remember, the best way to prepare for success is to prepare. So start now…

How to Question for Budget

Qualifying for budget, or handling objections around budget and money, are areas most sales reps feel uncomfortable in. To start with, I’ve heard many sales reps tell me that bringing up budget or money on a qualifying call is not only uncomfortable, but that it’s inappropriate as well. They say, “I haven’t given any value yet, so it’s too early to talk about budget!”

My response is that if your product or service is out of a prospect’s budget, or if they feel it’s too expensive, then it doesn’t matter how much value you give it – they aren’t going to buy from you. That’s why it’s crucial to qualify for budget up front – just as you would with decision maker, timeframe, etc.

And when objections about money or price come up, again, sales reps often struggle with how to handle it. In fact, most sales reps’ default response is to try to lower the price rather than either build value or help the prospect find other areas to get budget from.

Below you’ll find a variety of ways of both qualifying for budget and asking questions to help assist you in helping the prospect find the budget. Getting comfortable with regularly asking these questions – both during the qualifying stage and during the close – will allow you to both identify qualified prospects and help you close them.

As always, adapt them to fit your product, service or personality and practice, drill and rehearse them until they become automatic for you:

Budget Questions during qualifying:

“How much budget do you have set aside for new advertising?” (This week, quarter, or year)

“How much are you currently spending to attract new consumers?”

“How much budget do you currently spend on keeping or retaining your existing customers?”

“How much have you set aside this?” (Your product or service)

“What do you know about management’s budget when it comes to adding….” (Your product or service)

“Besides yourself, who else would weigh in on making a budget decision on this?”

LAYER:

“And what is their role (or your role) in that process?”

LAYER:

“And what do you know about their budget for adding a new…. (Your product or service)

“How much of a priority is this (your product or service area) for you this month?” (Or quarter)

“How much does your department (or company) spend on new client acquisition?”

“Our solution runs a ballpark of $10,000 up to $50,000.” If you liked what you saw, could you work within that range?”

“What’s your budget for this?”

“What are your plans for (your product or service area) for the upcoming season/quarter for this?”

Budget Questions during the close:

“What is a new customer worth, roughly, to you?”

LAYER:

“And how much budget, per week/month/year, have you set aside to attract those new customers?”

LAYER:

“And how much of that budget is still not used that you could apply to this?”

“When something like this comes up that you believe will work for you (your department or company), how do you normally go about getting the budget for it?”

“How do you draw from next month’s/quarter’s budget to get something like this that you really know will help you?”

“What is your yearly budget for this area (of your product or service)?”

LAYER:

“And how much of that do you have left over?”

“Let me ask you: around this time of year, how do you handle these kinds of purchases?”

“Who else could you get approval from to afford this extra expense?”

“How do you normally get something above budget approved?”

“How can you borrow against next year’s budget to get the profits and results this year?”

“What do you have to do now to make sure this is properly budgeted for next quarter?”

“What other areas/departments can you borrow from to start this service today?”

“If money weren’t an issue here, would you move forward?”

[If Yes]

“GREAT! What are three ways you can think of now to get the budget for this?”

“What did you do last time you really wanted something?”

“How did you get the money last time you really wanted something?”

“We all have ways of getting the money when we really want something, what way do you have of getting the money now?”

“Who (which department) could you borrow from?”

“How about I put you on our low cost down payment program, and you can then set up easy monthly payments so you can get started today?”

As you can see, there are a variety ways of not only bringing up or getting clarity around the budget issue, but of also leading your prospect to revealing how and when they can get or find the budget. Have some fun with this and hit MUTE while you get all the answers and solutions around budget that you need!

Ten New Ways to Handle the “I Need to Think About It” Objection

How do you currently handle it when your prospect gives you the stall, “I need to think about it”? If you’re like most sales people, you might give a wimpy, half-hearted response and then ask when you can call them back. That doesn’t feel too good, does it?

Let’s face it, whenever you get this objection – or any other stall that is similar to it like, “I need to wait until next week/month,” or “I’ll get back to you it,” – you know as well as I do that it means your prospect isn’t sold and will probably not move forward with you. If you don’t believe me, just look at your won/loss rate when you get this objection.

The way to handle this, then, is to deal with it when it comes up and get your prospect to reveal what is REALLY holding them back. The truth is, this objection (like so many) is usually just a smokescreen hiding the real objection…

Use any of these rebuttals to get your prospect talking to you, to get them to reveal what is really holding them back, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a chance to close the sale.

“I need to think about it”

Response One:

“_________, obviously there is something that either doesn’t make sense to you, or you need to check on something, I’m not sure. But procrastinating on this won’t help make this decision easier for you. Let me ask you this: What proof do I need to give you right now that this will work for you, to help you make that decision?”

Response Two:

“You know ________, whenever someone tells me they have to think about it, it’s usually because the price isn’t exactly where they would like it to be – is that part of what you need to think about?

[If Yes]

Thanks for sharing that with me. Let me tell you why we price this the way we do, and what you get for that pricing…

[Break down each part of your product/service and justify/build value in your price. When done]:

You see _________, you get what you pay for with this and then some. Let’s go ahead and put this to work for you so you can start enjoying the benefits today…”

Response Three:

“__________ I understand that thinking about it might make sense right now, but help me to understand something – what exactly is holding you back from this today?”

Response Four:

“_________ let me ask you: if I could email you right now testimonials from other clients that describe how much success they’ve had with this program, how much of a difference would that make for you right now?”

[Listen carefully here. If this won’t get them to move forward, then]:

“Then, please, I love to learn, what specifically is holding you back from deciding on this today?”

Response Five:

“_________, as you think about the reasons for either moving forward with this or not, I also want you to think about this:

“How much has this been costing you each month by not getting it fixed?”

AND

“And tell me, how much time do you and your team spend on this each week?”

AND

“And how much more money could you (and your company/sales team/family) make if you finally found a solution that worked?”

AND

“And when you think about all the time and energy you’ve already spent thinking about this, how much has THAT cost you so far?”

AND

“And if you continue to procrastinate, how much more do you think THAT will cost you?”

AND

“If you went with our solution and it worked for you, how much would you save/make?”

THEN

“As you can see, continuing to “think about this” has done nothing to fix it and it has only cost you time, money and energy! So why don’t you finally DO something about this today and starting reaping the rewards right now. Here’s what we need to do….”

Response Six:

“I understand that you’re not quite ready to decide on this. Out of curiosity, what factors do you still need to consider?”

AND

“And what kind of proof would you need to decide to go with us?”

AND

“And what else might hold you back from doing this with us?”

Response Seven:

“If there was one thing that would get you to say yes on this today, what would it be?”

Response Eight:

“__________, generally whenever I tell someone I need to think about it, one of three things is going on: One: I’m either weighing other options and want to make sure I’m getting the best deal, or Two: What I’m looking at just doesn’t fit exactly what I need so I want to keep looking, or Three: It’s too much money….

“Which of those three things is happening for you right now?”

Response Nine:

“_________, how much is a new customer worth to you?”

[Listen carefully]

“And do you think what we’re talking about here will bring you enough customers to at least pay for this?”

[If No, then they aren’t sold on your solution, and you’ll need to build more value]

[If Yes]:

“Then there is no downside here for you and each additional client will simply make you money. So let’s do this: let’s sign you up for our introductory offer, and once you see how this WILL make you money, we’ll adjust your subscription to make you even more…”

Response Ten:

“________ tell me two things: Why would you NOT do this, and why would you DO this with me?”

[Hit MUTE and let them talk…]

These rebuttals will work in a variety of situations if you take the time to customize them to your product or service, and then use them consistently. Ultimately, what you’ll find is that if you can get past this smokescreen to the real reason they’re not moving forward with you, then you’ll have the chance to either build value or clarify something they either don’t understand or misunderstand. And once you do that, you’ll finally have a shot at winning their business.

Six New Ways to Handle: “I need to talk to my boss/partner/corporate” etc

The stall, “I need to speak with someone” is as old as “The price is too high” objection. Despite it being around before all sales reps working today were born, most still have trouble overcoming it. You’d think that with all the good rebuttals and techniques that have been written for it they might have figured it out, but, alas, most reps still struggle with it.

To help you finally and definitively deal with it, I present you five new, improved and proven ways of handling this stall. Now, let me make something clear: these techniques won’t always work at overcoming this stall (sometimes they will, though!), but they will let you know how much of a stall this put off is, whether or not it’s a smokescreen, and how much of a shot you have at overcoming it, side-stepping it, or setting yourself up for a successful next call (or if there should even be a next call with a prospect).

So let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you need to do is qualify for this stall during your opening call. Do you? If you don’t, then you’re likely to keep getting this at the end of your presentations and, oh, how frustrating that must be for you. If you get it once, then shame on them, but if you keep getting it over and over again, then shame on you. Here’s what you must be asking on your first call:

“And _________, besides yourself, who weighs in on the final decision on something like this?”

And if they tell you their boss or corporate, etc., then you must layer that with:

“And how much influence do you have in that?”

And,

“And what do they usually do when you bring them something like this?”

And

“Based on what you know about how they feel about something like this, what do you honestly think they would do?”

Etc. You must get as much clarity as you can upfront so you know what to expect when you go into your demo or presentation. And, of course, as you begin your close, you must also preface it with:

“And before we get started here, just so we’re on the same page, if you like what you see at the end of our presentation today, what are the next steps for putting to work for you on your end?”

OR,

“At the end of our presentation today, if you like what you see, can you put us to work for you today?”

Again, you must have clarity over the process before you begin your presentation. Once you have that, however, if you still get the “I’ll have to show this to my partner, boss, etc.,” then use one of the proven scripts below to handle it. As always, adjust it, customize it, and make it your own, and then practice, drill and rehearse it until you’ve got it down.

“I need to talk to my boss/partner/corporate” etc.

Response One:

“No problem, and are you going to recommend this to them?”

[If Yes]

“Great! Then I’ll hold on while you check with them…”

OR

“Great! And as you mentioned earlier, they do usually go with your recommendation, right?”

[If Yes]

“Wonderful. Then I’ll go ahead and get the paperwork started on my end – can you reach out and see if they’re available now to run this by them?”

[Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this technique! About 20% of the time, the decision maker is sitting in the next room and some people will go and get the approval right then and save you valuable time in delaying and following up…]

Response Two:

“I understand. Let me ask you two things: One: What do you think the biggest reason is they will put us to work for you today?”

[Listen for the buying motive]

“And two: What do you think is the biggest reason they won’t go with this solution?”

[Listen for what the real objection is and then layer and explore…]

Response Three:

“Of course and I understand – we talked before about your decision process. Let me ask you this, though: is getting their approval the ONLY thing holding us back from doing business together?”

[Listen carefully – if YES then]:

“Will you have time to talk to them before we next speak at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon? Great! Then because you’re onboard with this, I’ll go ahead and prepare the paperwork, I’ll email it to you, and I’ll even reserve a spot for you.”

[Give a brief pause here and wait for push back. If none]:

“I’ll look forward to us moving forward tomorrow!”

Response Four:

“I understand _________.” Tell you what I’d be happy to do: I know you’re behind this, right? Well, it’s not fair to ask you to do my job, so if it’s all right with you, I’ll be happy to reach out to (decision maker) directly and answer any questions they might have – would that be O.K.?”

[If NO]

“No problem. Just out of curiosity, do you think they will go with this?”

[If NO or Don’t Know]:

“What would it take for them to say yes?”

Response Five:

“Well, I know you’re behind this, and I know you need it – as we discussed during out first phone call. I know you’ve tried to sell or buy something in the past, and you’ve probably been told that someone had to “talk to someone else” before, right?

[Wait for a response]

“Well, based on your experience, what do you honestly think is going to happen here?”

Response Six:

“I understand. __________, I’ve been in sales a long time, and when someone tells me they have to speak with someone, it either means they really do, or it means they don’t really have to, and it’s just a way to get me off the phone. I don’t think that’s happening here, but if it is, can you level with me?”

[If they really do have to speak with someone, then]
“Thanks for that. Now, based on what you know about this, and based on the fact that you’d like to see us work together, what do you seriously think is going to stand in the way of this getting approved?”

OR

“Thanks for that. Now, based on what you know about this, and based on the fact that you’d like to see us work together, what do you seriously think it’s going to take to get this approved?”

There you have it! Six new ways to handle the “I need to speak with someone” objection. Remember, some of these will work some of the time, but all of them will help you smoke out the real objection. And once you get a handle on what’s really likely to happen, then you can deal with it and overcome it – or move this prospect to the backburner and move on.