What to Say When Customers Don’t Want to Meet With You
When budgets get frozen — whether from a disaster, economic downturn, or business pivot — many sales people stop calling customers who have put on hold their purchasing decisions. After all, when there’s no budget there’s nothing to sell, so why make a sales call?
In addition, customers are reluctant to take a call when then have no opportunity to return the favor by placing an order.
Yet the secret to long-term success lies in being the trusted advisor — the go-to person — for your current and future customers. Although most sales pros know this, few know how to effectively accomplish it.
How can you remain a trusted advisor to your customers when you aren’t talking with them? You can’t. If you want customers to buy from you when they DO get budget, you must stay in touch and offer value now.
The two-part opportunity:
First, cement your current relationships to keep your competitors out of your accounts; and second, begin the process of becoming the trusted advisor for your competitors’ customers. If your competitors are ignoring their customers, it may be easier than you think.
Now is the time to call everybody on your prospect and customer list. If your business is slow, you should have plenty of time to make these quick calls. And you most likely won’t have much competition.
A sample script to start the conversation:
“I know you may not have budget to spend right now. But I also know that’s not a permanent situation because you still have your job. (Pause) So let’s have a conversation about your future plans, after all, I’m here to offer advice and help you plan for the future. So let’s have a conversation this week. I want to discuss with you what’s coming, so that when you do have budget, you’ll be ready to get the edge over your competition. What time works for you?”
“Having no budget to spend is temporary because you still have a job.”
Ask four questions
In the meeting, instead of pitching your product, ask these four questions.
1) “When do you think your situation is going to turn around?” This question identifies the people you need to track. If they think things will get better soon, they are more likely to buy than someone who’s afraid to spend.
2) “What’s the next step in moving towards your vision for your company?” This identifies their next logical purchase. If you can help them take that step, this is a warm prospect.
3) “Where do you think the funding will come from to do that?” If funding is coming, you’re getting hotter. If not, perhaps you can help with leasing, trade-in allowances, or budget reallocation from operational savings.
4) “What can I do to help?” This is the ultimate sales close because it doesn’t sound like one. You’ll be surprised and delighted with the answers you get.
Now you can talk about your offerings in the context of helping them get to where they want to go. Voila, instant trusted advisor.
When their budgets return, these customers will now come to you instead of your competitors — all because you’re willing to have a conversation when there’s no available budget.