As sales people, we are all too familiar with the classic “follow up with me after the first of the year” objection we often hear from customers as we attempt to move forward with the sales process during the holiday season. Have you considered what your prospects may really be telling you? If they won’t buy now, will they actually buy in January? Or February?
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a frustrating obstacle to overcome year in and year out, but rather an opportunity to re-qualify your prospects and learn ways to improve your own sales skills.
Five reasons customers may be saying “come back after New Year’s” and how you can prevent it:
1. They aren’t going to buy the product or service and don’t want to tell you. Odds are, if you’ve been persistent and have given a decent sales presentation, the customer has good reason to believe that you aren’t going to just give up after being told “no.” Bottom line, the customer is avoiding the conversation because they know it won’t be brief and easy.
Solution: Close early. A good sales person tries their hardest to get the sale no matter what. A really good sales person knows when to walk away. A great sales person qualifies early on and only meets with buyers. Asking the right questions from the very beginning will set the tone for the entire sales process – be straightforward and thorough and customers will reciprocate.
2. They are going to buy the product or service but they aren’t buying it from you. It’s one thing to tell someone you’re never going to buy, but it’s quite another to say you’re going to buy, but from someone else. Ouch. Bottom line, they don’t want to hurt your feelings – especially if there isn’t a tangible difference between your offering and that of your competition.
Solution: Build Relationships. Partnerships add tremendous value and can protect you from this.
Sell yourself and your company. Differentiate yourself and your product from the very beginning. Get creative. Be clear and direct about what YOU bring to the table. Avoid focusing on the competition – it’s irrelevant. Pride and confidence is contagious and customers will respect it and be drawn to you for it.
Basic qualifying applies – what made you choose to buy from your current vendor and what motivated you to meet with me? What’s the process? The responses they provide you with could be priceless.
3. They don’t see the value in having your product or service NOW. The customer probably agrees that it makes sense and would be beneficial, but not to the degree needed to motivate them to move now. Bottom line, if they are a truly qualified prospect with real needs and you have shown them the value in having your solution, they won’t put it off another day, much less an entire month.
Solution: Don’t just uncover a few wants – you must uncover real pain. Pain that can be healed with your solution and can be associated with a price tag. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing the dollar amount EARNED by fixing it now instead of later. Ask the tough questions, get a calculator out and show them the ROI. Let the math do the talking.
4. They are going to buy, but they aren’t done shopping yet. Bottom line, you have more homework to do and need to start over.
Solution: Set proper expectations and don’t be afraid to simply ask if they are shopping. If they say yes, then you haven’t convinced them that you and your solution are the best out there. Go back and re-qualify to figure out what you missed. When a customer shops this late in the game of the sales cycle, something was clearly missed.
5. They have a 100% legit reason to wait until after the first of the year. In some cases there is a specific and legit reason to wait. A common word you will hear in this scenario will be “budget,” but this is a key factor that you will likely know about in the beginning – given that you qualified properly.
Solution: Ask about the process, timeframe, and possible obstacles from the beginning. Even if they don’t reveal all the details initially, deep down you will see it potentially happening. No biggie, these customers will buy. The difficult part is identifying what is truly legit and what’s not…
At the end of the day, or year, sales people will always be faced with objections and obstacles they must learn to overcome; whether it’s from a customer or themselves. Opportunities are plentiful given a positive attitude and willingness to take an honest look at what’s really happening around you. Of course, there’s no one definitive method of guaranteeing things always going your way in sales, but there will always be ways of improving your skills. So take ownership of YOUR sales process by setting the tone of the relationship with prospects from the start, always ask the tough questions despite the anticipation of hearing some bad news and enjoy the confidence that comes along with knowing where things stand.