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VOL. 39 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 16, 2015

How to deal with a prospect’s stalling tactics

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Those in sales inevitably face stall tactics designed to prevent prospects from either having to make a decision or having to tell you no.

It can be one of the most challenging of the sales objections, because the root cause of the stall is often not directly or immediately known.

A prospect stall is often disguised as “Give me a call back in 90 days,” or “Let’s wait until after (insert name of project, obstacle, holiday or other milestone) is behind us. I’ll call you then.”

When you reach a stall, make it your first priority to uncover the root cause.

First, validate the prospect’s hidden objection: “I hear what you’re saying. This is a big decision, and one that I want you to be sure of.”

Then consider this simple open-ended question posed as a statement, which generally garners a pretty candid response: “Tell me more about your hesitation.”

As a consultative salesperson, your objective, of course, is not to manipulate the prospect into buying, but to identify the true objection and help the prospect toward a decision that is in his or her best interest, even if that decision isn’t buying from you.

Once the real objection is known, if you still feel confident what you’re offering is in your prospect’s best interest, consider these approaches to help steer your prospect toward the right decision.

Note that more than half the time the hidden objection is merely that you haven’t proven value yet. You now know what to do (prove value!), or your product isn’t solving a real pain for the prospect, which means it’s time to move on.

If the objection is fear of change, ask what’s at stake with maintaining status quo.

If the objection is concern about their time commitment needed for the change, respectfully ask if they anticipate having less to do in the future.

If the prospect is struggling to believe you can deliver on what you’ve promised, be prepared to prove it.

Back up your claims with research (e.g., from a customer survey), testimonials from clients that will matter to your prospect (e.g., in their industry), relevant referrals who will vouch for your company, or case studies.

If the prospect discloses that they don’t have sole decision-making authority, brainstorm potential approaches to collaboratively sell the idea up the ladder.

If you are simply not able to overcome a prospect’s real objection, let them off the hook.

Remind them how important it is that your customers are 100 percent certain about moving forward with your company, and that the last thing you want them to have is buyer’s remorse.

You’ll create longer lasting relationships as a result.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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