Here is some truth about why people aren’t buying your stuff.
Some backstory: Steve came to me pretty distressed about his sales numbers. He’d been banging his head against the wall for a couple of years now and had not made much progress.
He provided technical and marketing services to mid-sized businesses and had a good track record. But no matter what he did, his sales cycles were long and conversion rates weren’t great. But his client results were terrific!
So Steve asked me a question I hear a lot in one form or another:
“Why aren’t people buying my stuff?”
Let’s get the basics out of the way.
Before I start looking at sales techniques, the first 3 things that have to be in place are:
- Are you clear on your unique selling proposition?
- Are you clear on your target market?
- Are you clear on your ideal client profile?
You need to be able to answer these 3 questions very clearly. If you can’t, your sales problems are likely due to a lack of clarity and focus.
You aren’t talking to your ideal prospects because you don’t know who they are. And you aren’t delivering a winning message because you don’t have one yet.
Do these 3 things first.
The 4 Unspoken Objections
But, if you have a clear value proposition, a focused target market, and have pre-qualified your prospect against your ideal client profile, then slow sales cycles are often because of one of these 4 – often unspoken – objections.
1. “I Don’t Believe You”
You prospect isn’t likely to tell you this directly. But if they do, thank them gratefully, for they have outlined the fundamental flaw in your sales process: your credibility.
The best way to handle this objection is to prepare for it in advance. Know that your credibility is on the line every time you sell. You need to be able to establish authority and back it up with facts.
First, spend time at the beginning of the sales process establishing your credibility and authority. Provide value to the prospect before you try to sell them anything. Have testimonials and case studies ready to demonstrate your ability to deliver on your unique selling proposition.
Next, if you’ve done your homework in establishing an ideal client profile, you will know if you’re going to have a credibility gap. If that’s a likely issue, address it head-on and up-front.
One sales expert I know suggests bringing it up before the prospect does. For example, if you’re new to the prospect’s vertical, mention it.
“You might be asking yourself how a company like ours that hasn’t serviced the [fill in the blank] industry can make the claims I’m making. Let me tell you why I’m so confident we can deliver value to you.”
Addressing the “elephant in the room” is a powerful way to take charge of the conversation.
But don’t ignore this objection because it’s uncomfortable. If you don’t bring it up, your prospect will almost certainly not. But they won’t buy from you either.
2. “I Don’t Have the Power to Make a Decision”
Your prospect may or may not be the decision maker. They may even tell you they are the decision maker when they really aren’t. If they aren’t the decision maker, then you’re selling to the wrong person.
This conclusion may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people still sell below the decision-making level.
Don’t ask, “Are you the decision maker?”
The answer will almost always be a lie. Prospects don’t want to admit to you – a salesperson – that they don’t have power. Heck, they may not even want to admit it to themselves.
Instead, ask, “What is the decision-making process here?”
You’re more likely to get an honest answer. It may certainly involve the person you’re speaking to, but you’ll get a list of names, committees, or processes you’ll need to know about. Start engaging with those entities.
3. “I Don’t Have the Time or Resources to Implement Your Solution”
This objection may take some unwinding because it may represent very different issues to your prospect. They may talk about budgeting or staffing, but fundamentally, it means, “I don’t think your benefit is that important.”
Listen carefully to your prospects when they tell you they like your solution but just have other priorities right now. They are giving you valuable feedback.
Assuming your prospect believes your value proposition (see above), there are 2 possible scenarios:
- Your benefit really isn’t that important. Go back to the drawing board and find one that is.
- You aren’t communicating the importance of your benefit. Change your language to create urgency and align with your prospects’ priorities.
Challenge the current priorities of your prospect. Ask if they truly reflect the goals of the organization. Ask the prospect if the CEO of their company could truly achieve the outcome you promise, would priorities change. If so, you know have a prospect that doesn’t believe you: act accordingly.
If you have a problem convincing prospect after prospect to elevate your benefit over existing priorities, the problem isn’t with the prospect – it’s with your value proposition. Go back to the drawing board and find something more compelling.
4. “I Don’t Have the Money”
Note: this objection is not “I don’t want to spend the money” – that’s very different and fits into one of the classifications above. This objection comes from a qualified prospect, who fits the ideal client profile, and literally cannot afford what you are selling.
The biggest mistake salespeople make here to revert to selling value. “But if I can achieve a 20x return on your investment, wouldn’t you want to buy?”
You can promise to turn $100 bills into $1000 bills all day long, but if I don’t have a $100 bill, you’re not going to get very far.
If you’ve done your pre-qualification well and you still get this objection often, there are three possibilities:
- Move on. Tighten your pre-qualification guidelines and find candidates with a budget.
- Consider your price points. Perhaps you’ve overpriced this product with respect to your chosen target market. Lower the price.
- Create an on-ramp product. Allow your ideal client to get started with a lower-priced product which produces some of the value and funds the adoption of your higher priced product.
Handle the Objections or Pay the Price
These 4 objections will likely be a part of your sales process. If your prospect doesn’t say them out loud, they are thinking them.
Ignore them at your own financial peril.
My client, Steve, started to address these objection head on and found his average sales cycle decreased from 60 days to 45 days and his conversion rate increased by 23%.
When you learn to diagnose and cure these 4 common objections, you will find your sales cycles speed up, average ticket sizes increase, and your ability to pre-qualify good lead sharpen.
Frank Bria is an author, speaker, and strategist dedicated to helping you scale your service business by automating your marketing. You can find out more about him by visiting his website, frankbria.com.