When is the last time a stranger surprised you? Made you stop in your tracks, jerked you out of your “zone” and piqued your interest?
Every once in a GREAT while, I get a cold call from a sales pro that really makes me stop and listen for at least the first minute.
The other 99 out of 100 calls, I immediately give them one of 4 or so prepared Brush Offs:
“I don’t have time”
“I’m happy with my current provider”
“Thanks but I’m not interested” or
“Just send me some information”
Sound familiar? Do you use these brush-offs?
If you’re a seller, are you GETTING these brush-offs?
On the buyer side, shutting down sales people is a knee jerk reaction. We don’t want the interruption and have designed a stiff arm to keep from having to waste time with sales people that are calling for their own self-interest. We’re all conditioned to push back.
For sellers, it’s important to recognize that these are NOT objections. Objections are when you and your buyer have not arrived at the same destination – they’re objecting to price, terms, or cost of change. You should uncover potential objections throughout due diligence with the buyer, particularly with prequalifying them strongly. If you’re surprised at the end . . . you may not have done your job very well or you don’t have the relationship you THINK you do.
Getting past this brush off can mean having more conversations, more considerations, and more customer conversions.
How can sellers tackle prospecting brush-offs?
EXPECT the Pushback
Know that your call, knock, email or introduction is probably an interruption that your customer didn’t ask for. That’s the reality of cold calling (heck, it’s the reality of warm calling or referral calls too). Their immediate response is a reaction to being interrupted. And, in their experience, most sellers go away when they brush them off. Experience also tells them that giving a seller their time is an exercise in helping the seller: helping them learn their business, helping them understand what’s important, helping them make quota, et cetera.
Expecting that you’re not expected and weren’t invited to call gives you perspective and hopefully, some empathy to know how to proceed.
PREPARE to Respond
What happens to most sellers is that they have not prepared for the brush off, fumble, and then give up. Sure, some of those brush-offs will still stand but if you can think of them as a first “test” to see if you are going to waste their time or not – you can be ready to pass the test.
Also, when you don’t cave at the first sign of push back – you can better pre-qualify them so you don’t waste your time, and you, of course, will increase your conversion rates.
Think of the most common brush-offs – start with those four above – and think about how you can respond in a way that’s meaningful and . . .
DELIVER Value Upfront
Demonstrate that you value and will respect your prospects’ time. If you can’t overcome that hurdle, you’ll go nowhere. Design a response that quickly imparts the value that can be gained from the CONVERSATION – not necessarily the sale or the switch.
People – our customers – they buy in increments. We make buying decisions in increments. We buy a conversation about an idea, then we decide which factors play into our decision. We buy into the idea of having exploratory conversations, and we agree to have meetings . . . But most sellers start selling value about the solution and pushing the benefits of “making a switch” right from the first phone call.
When you’ve interrupted your customer – trying to finish a report, clear out emails, or finally eat that sandwich – they’ve not been sitting there, contemplating your product when you call.
Show there’s value in a conversation with you – don’t skip to the end and assume they’re able to think about those results yet.
DISRUPT their Expectations
You’re getting the brush off because your buyer expects you to be the same as all the other sales callers.
Be Disruptive. Disrupt their expectations to get a different result.
Thoughtful, value driven introductions stand a better chance of disrupting the buyers and getting their attention to have a conversation.
Thoughtfully and creatively preparing for a response can help you NOT sound like every other sales call. I haven’t given you all the answers to these responses because 1) you have to think through them and practice them to be successful, and 2) they have to be customized for your buyers, your industry, your solutions (and 3, I want to work with you on these in person).
I will, however, share with you two of the most fun responses generated from a recent training session with sales pros who do a lot of heavy prospecting.
We had fun with an exercise in thoughtful responses to common brush-offs such as the ones listed above. Here are a few that had me laughing and taking notes about disruption:
When I asked, “How do you counter this customer response ‘I’m not interested’”, one witty sales rep buzzed in and said, “I’m not in a restaurant either.”
About a third of the room immediately recognized what he had done but most were puzzled. I burst out laughing (and just maybe snorted too) and explained that he responded to his customer as if he had misheard her to say she was “In a restaurant”. Imagine how this stops someone in their tracks and creates a humorous moment. (Thanks for this one, Billy!)
It’s a bit goofy, but I can’t wait to test it out to see how effective it can be to removing walls between you and your prospect. Note: you’ve got to follow it up with value or else it’s just a gimmick.
We thoroughly blasted several scenarios, including “Just send me some information.” When we got to the brush off “I don’t have time”, one sales rep hit his button and responded, “Oh thank goodness, I thought you were going to say, ‘Just send me some information!’” (Thanks, David!)
That brought lots of laughs and would probably be found humorous by someone on the other end of the phone.
Those are a few fun examples of disrupting the expectations of the customer but make sure you’ve got more to your reply than a gimmick.
Don’t give up and don’t ramble on hoping you eventually say the right thing to get your listener Prepare for Push Backs and Brush Offs with solid replies and watch your results multiply!
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
PS – If you’d like to bring Push Back training to your sales team (oh, and I’ve been known to do this training “Family Feud” style) contact us so you or your sales team can start having more value-driven conversations that convert to opportunities.