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You’ve been speaking with a prospect for a while and you have a sense of their goals and challenges — it seems like your offering is a great fit for their business. You’re ready to set a date for delivery or implementation and agree pricing, 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.”

Ouch! Not only is this a deal you had in your pipeline, but you’ve also spent a significant amount of time working with the prospect. Prospects often use this type of timing objection to stall or push you away.

Now, sometimes there are valid and true obstacles such as resources and budget that are stopping a prospect from buying — this is why it’s important to maintain a level of empathy in all communication with prospects, no matter what their reasoning is for backing out of a deal.

And of course, right now we have the ultimate time related objection to face … Covid-19. Many prospects are understandably incredibly nervous about committing to new purchases and investments.

But how can you combat this issue? By using timing objection responses, you can get to the heart of a prospect’s hesitation.

So here are some suggestions of responses you can use.

1. If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to start with our product today?

If your prospect says “no thanks” to your offer, they may not be convinced that your product is of value to 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.

2. What’s holding you back?

By getting your prospect to talk through their reasoning for their delay or decision to back out entirely, you’ll be in a better position to address their hesitation and work to find some middle ground that suits both your business as well as the prospect.

3. When would be a good time to buy?

Maybe your prospect really does want and intend to buy, but due to factors like budget, resources, or other reasons, they really just can’t authorise 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 what you’ll read below in number 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 (and even make them more attainable). If it turns out your prospect’s goals are being pushed aside by management, follow up with the next question.

5. 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 support with their leader and/ or team, then help get internal buy-in.

6. Is X goal no longer or less of 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. (You can also follow up to this with the next question.)

7. What happens to your 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 realise this is the best-fit solution for 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 a 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 due to external reasons entirely out of their control. Maybe there’s an economic recession happening, or your prospect is simply waiting on a round of funding to come in.

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 altering the deal, or if you just think they’re stalling to back out of the deal entirely.

10. What’s going to be different next quarter?

A broader, rhetorical spin on the above response. Empathetically question your prospect’s motivations for brushing you off without coming right out and saying it to better understand their point of view.

Respond to Your Prospects Effectively and Empathetically

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 to support these prospects in a way 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.

In our next instalment we’ll cover options 11 – 20.

If you’d like to discuss any of these approaches in more detail, then get in touch.

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