Even after you convinced your prospect that they need your product and that they can afford it, salespeople often face a final barrier that sounds something like this: “We’ll definitely place an order, but now’s just not the right time.”
Now, in that situation, unfortunately, what salespeople often do is just reiterate the same benefits they already explained earlier. And, of course, that doesn’t work because the buyer’s already sold on your benefits. What’s more effective in helping the prospect understand the unique problem created by waiting.
Tiffany Lopez from DataServe has a great example.
In late 2013, she closed a sale with a prospect she’d been working with for almost two years—or so she thought. They agreed to buy DataServ’s accounts payable software, but they didn’t want to begin implementation until March. They told Tiffany, “December and January are really busy months for the payables department when we’re closing the books, and February is audit season. So March would be the earliest the A/P staff would be freed up for an installation project like this. “Come back in January and we’ll sign all the paperwork, and then start work in March.”
Well, January came, and Tiffany called the client. And called. And called. No response. Then she figured out why. She saw a story on the news that the company had just announced an acquisition of one of their competitors. She knew what that meant. Typically in an acquisition, the acquiring company takes over the accounts payables for the acquired company. That means they might double the volume of payments they have to make, but with the same staffing. Plus, there’s a big one-time effort needed to set all those new vendors up in their A/P system.
That’s why Tiffany’s calls weren’t getting returned. They were swamped working nights and weekends to keep up. In fact, to make matters worse, she found out that one of their key A/P managers had quit in the middle of it all, probably because of the ridiculous workload. That just made things worse for the people who stayed. They ended up having to hire more than one person to replace her, and training them was a job in itself. It’s a vicious cycle Tiffany’s seen before. Workload goes up, morale goes down, people quit, so workload goes up, etc.
When Tiffany finally heard from her client, it was no surprise that they were just too busy and had no relief in sight.
The unfortunate and ironic thing about this story is that if they had implemented Tiffany’s solution when they originally talked about it, they’d be in a much better position. The new system is more efficient than their current system, so when the acquisition happened, they wouldn’t have had to put in nearly as much overtime to keep up. That meant their best A/P manager might not have quit, which also meant they wouldn’t have had to hire and train any new people. Delaying was a decision they were certainly regretting now.
So, Tiffany shares that story with prospects when they start to drag their feet. It creates exactly the sense of urgency you might expect it to, and not just for prospects who think they might go through an acquisition soon. They know that any unexpected project that drops in their lap can result in the same series of unfortunate events and that they’ll be happier if they install the new system now and not wait.
So, whatever your product or service is, there’s likely a similar example of the unfortunate consequences if a buyer delays. Find it, and create your own “sense of urgency” story.
Okay, in the next lesson, we’ll talk about a story you can tell to help your prospect comfortably end their relationship with their current supplier, so they can hire you!