4 responses to prospects who say "This isn't a good time"

| By: Steve Farnan

You know the scenario: You’ve been chasing down a lead. You finally have them on the phone. You seem to understand their pain points and they seem to have a basic understanding of what you’re selling. You’ve talked through the high points, shared a bit about yourself, learned a little about them and their business. All is going well! It sounds like your solution may be just the thing they need.

Then, you hear it. That dreaded, generic, canned response: “This just isn’t a good time for us.”

Balloon: deflated. Ego: bruised. Train: derailed. Or is it?

Not yet. Being the sales professional that you are, you need another set of tools at your disposal to help overcome this common objection, so that you know exactly how to respond. This objection could be a cover for something deeper—something you haven’t actually uncovered yet.

In some circumstances, you might have failed to help establish a sense of urgency. In others, you haven’t shown enough value (not cost) for the solution you’re selling. Maybe you’re selling a solution that doesn’t even have a realized problem. Sometimes, the keys to a successful sales pitch lie in asking the right questions.

These four are your most effective questions for being helpful, not obnoxious. Follow them in this order to reach the heart of your prospect’s hesitation.

1. What are the other priorities that come before solving this particular problem?

This helps uncover what the prospect views as important for the future. It gives you some insight into their goals and what management actually views as pain points. Knowing the answer to this question provides the data you need to determine the stage of the buying process this prospect is in. Knowing that helps you alter your course accordingly. While it’s technically your job to sell, your actual job is to help buyers buy.

2. When do you plan to achieve these goals / resolve these issues / address these priorities?

As a logical follow-up to the previous question, the answer to this one will give you a sense of their timing. It follows that, after they tackle their top priority, yours could, in theory, come next. Once again, it helps to determine where your prospect is in the buying journey. Keep in mind, though, that timing is not absolute. If what you’re selling solves a legitimate need and you’ve done a good job of conveying that value, timing can always be adjusted.

3. If cost weren’t an issue, what would you say is the biggest thing holding you back?

This is a big one because it takes money off the table. In most scenarios, prospects want as much as they can get for as little as they can pay. By eliminating cost from the discussion, you’re able to really delve down into obstacles. Do they not have the technical infrastructure? The manpower? The time? The space? The software? Whatever it might be, this is how you uncover roadblocks. In the end, they’re still willing to spend money and will “when the time is right.”

4. Our solution has an ROI timeline of [insert number of months]. If we started next quarter, you could expect to see results by [insert month.] Would that be ideal timing for you?

Now you’re getting specific. If you’ve made it this far and you still have them on the phone, you know you aren’t closing a sale today. That’s OK! It’s part of building the pipeline. This question helps specifically frame when you should expect to see movement with this prospect. It also adds transparency to your pitch because you’re providing a timeline of your own—how long until they can expect to see results—and then contrasting that to their goals and priorities.

“This just isn’t a good time for us” doesn’t mean “No, we aren’t buying. Period. End of story.” It means you still have work to do before you earn that commission. You’re no stranger to hard work, so roll up your sleeves, buckle down, and don’t let “not now” keep you from closing the deal.