Time is the enemy of every salesperson. When time is on your side, when you’ve got more prospects than you can manage and loads of time until the end of the month or quarter, it can feel pretty awesome to be in sales.
But then, as the clock runs down towards that target, time can work against you. After investing time working with prospects, identifying pain points and crafting solutions, the worst thing you can hear them say is, “Now isn’t a great time, can we revisit this next quarter?”
Salespeople regularly hear a number of similar objections that revolve around time:
• Now isn’t a good time;
• Next quarter or month (or year) would be better;
• We will let you know when we’ve got a good time to revisit this;
• We need to think about it;
• Senior management or the board need to sign off.
Time-related objections can be difficult to overcome.
Often this feels like the end of the road with a particular prospect, which means a deal you might have been confident about - one that was in the pipeline - vanishes overnight. Taking with it your hopes for it landing when you needed it; plus the impact of the time spent cultivating a prospect who wasn’t willing or able to buy.
It can be frustrating, to say the least!
Is this the end of the road, or are there ways to overcome a time-based objection?
How to overcome “now isn’t a good time”
#1: “When would be a good time?”
Let’s not overlook the fact that a better time to go ahead could be around the corner.
Use this as information gathering. Find out exactly what circumstances, internal or external, including budgets and resources and senior sign-off is required for them to go ahead. If they simply need more time and are sincere about the road ahead, then it’s worth retaining this in the pipeline and maintaining contact.
#2: “What is stopping you from going ahead?”
Again, find out specifics. If something is stopping them, maybe you can help them overcome it. Providing this is related to what you are offering, this information puts you in a better position to address the problem.
#3: “If you had an unlimited budget, would you go ahead today?”
If a prospect says they wouldn’t, then it could be they don’t see enough value in what you are selling. This can be difficult to hear, especially after spending time selling the benefits and tailoring it to what they need. This could be a clear sign that they aren’t buying, not now or anytime in the future.
So, take this feedback forward and use it when speaking with other prospects to improve how you sell the value/benefits of your companies services or products.
#4: “Is this goal no longer a priority?”
Assuming there is a goal connected to this potential deal, there might have been an internal priority shift that has suddenly stopped it going ahead. Finding out what that is paves the way for moving forward on a future date when this goal is again a priority.
#5: “What are your companies other priorities right now?”
Connected to the point above: It could be that this project was a priority, but others have pushed in front, forcing this to the back of the list. Either use this as an opportunity to demonstrate why it needs to be a higher priority, to help them sell the benefits of getting started sooner, or using this to map out when they can start once other goals have been achieved.
#6: “How can I help you sell this to the board/senior managers?”
Find out why they’re struggling to sell this internally, then provide them with new arguments or information to gain senior buy-in.
#7: “What happens if you don’t achieve the goals we talked about in the timescale outlined?”
Leverage the downsides of not going ahead sooner. Let your prospects see what could happen if they don’t achieve the goals they’ve set.
#8: “Do you want me to call back next month/quarter?”
It could be an internal bandwidth issue. There could be too many other projects trying to get done, so your prospect could have more time for this project when they said. If that is the case, get a positive confirmation that it won’t be a waste of time to follow-up (which also means it can still stay in the pipeline).
#9: “If I call back next month/quarter, what are you hoping will have changed?”
Calling back and moving things forward would be a great outcome.
If not, if nothing will have changed, then it’s a waste of time. Find out what they’re hoping will have changed to make it a useful conversation and worth staying in contact with them.
#10: “Do you understand the value of what I am proposing?”
See how much your prospect has been listening and whether they really understand it.
It could be the case that they don’t. Use this to reframe the message and benefits. Be clearer on what they are and the ROI they can expect.
#11: “Is timing the only problem?”
Timing could be a cover for another problem. Dig deeper to find out what the real issue is and whether this is something you can solve.
#12: “If not now, when?”
Depending on the relationship you’ve established, it might be a good move to throw them off balance. Be direct. Ask them when would be a good time.
#13: “If we started this project tomorrow, typical ROIs are [x months]: Is this OK?”
Getting a prospect to understand your typical ROI might help them see that there are disadvantages to waiting. It could return the urgency factor to the conversation.
#14: “Is this a low priority for you right now?”
Injecting a little more candor into the conversation can generate positive results. If a prospect says no, then you might get more information out of them and an answer that helps you move the conversation forward.
#15: “What aspects/features of our product/services are going to benefit your company the most?”
This is a great way to ensure the prospect actually wants what you are selling and can see the benefits. If not, then it either means they’re not interested or you need to do a more effective job of selling the benefits and ROI.
One or more of these questions should help you identify and move past a the time roadblock. Or see that time is only a temporary barrier. If the prospect clearly isn’t a viable prospect, then again, these question should identify that and help you move onto other prospects. At times, a simple “How can I help?” is all that is needed to move someone from a no or not now, to a yes.