“Now’s not a good time to buy,” the prospect says, and you immediately see the dollars start to slip out of your fingers. But it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the deal. Instead of letting a prospect shut you down with a timing objection, it’s time to put on your Sherlock Holmes cap and dig deeper for the truth – the real truth – behind this objection.
The real reasons behind timing objections are often hidden. It’s tough to know whether a prospect honestly needs a few more months to make the decision, if they’re being a little disingenuous or whether they’re flat-out lying to you. It’s up to you to ask the right questions in the right way to discover the truth. You have to find the balance between being supportive and helpful, and pushing a prospect to reveal their true intentions.
If you lose deals to timing objections time and time again, it may be that your strategies for handling these objections aren’t the right ones. Here’s how to investigate the real reasons for the objection, and overcome it.
1. Is this a legitimate timing objection?
Some timing objections are real, while others are just an excuse to get rid of you and shut down the sale. Unfortunately, it’s tough to know which is which. It’s up to you to separate the legitimate timing concerns from the timing excuses, and there are some key differences you can spot with a keen eye for detail. For example, a real timing concern sounds something like this:
“We can’t move forward with this right now, but we plan on implementing a solution in Q2. Let’s set up a meeting then.”
Whereas, an excuse sounds more like this:
“This product is great, but the timing is off. Why don’t you call me back in a few months.”
You’ll notice that the first objection offers specific timing based off of the company’s business plan. This prospect also offers to set up a meeting in the future, and is willing to put it on their calendar today. In comparison, the second objection is vague and nebulous. The prospect doesn’t offer any real business reasons behind the timing issue, and doesn’t offer a specific time in the future when they’d be interested in renewing the discussion. The lack of details are an immediate red flag and usually signal that this objection is just a nice way of saying, “No, thanks.”
2. Press for the reasons behind objections
When you encounter a timing objection, you can’t back down and give in immediately. However, you also can’t push prospects too hard, or they’ll run in the opposite direction. You have to investigate carefully to find the real reason for the objection. Often, a timing objection is just a budget objection or an authority objection in disguise. Sales reps have to continue to ask questions to get to the deeper level of reasoning for the objection. Reassure them that they don’t have to buy right now, but ask, “Why is this a bad time?”
- Do you have an existing contract with another vendor?
- Do you not have the budget for a project this quarter?
- Does your boss not support this purchase?
- Are you evaluating the competitor’s products right now?
You’ll be surprised to find that by asking the right investigative questions, the prospect will tell you much more information about their business and their personal challenges. This will help you decide whether this is an objection that you can overcome, or if it’s time to move past it.
3. Focus first on real timing objections
You should spend most of your energy working on prospects with detailed and legitimate timing objections. These are the prospects who say they’ll be happy to set up a meeting with you in 2 months, and seem genuinely interested in learning about your product. They may not have the budget this month, but these are the truly promising leads who can help you fill your future pipeline with valuable opportunities. Lock them into a calendar invite now – whether that’s in 3 weeks or 3 months – and stay in touch by sending valuable pieces of content to keep them engaged until then.
By cultivating these high-value opportunities today, you won’t have to sell to net new prospects every single month. Instead, you’ll start off the month with a backlog of potential business already scheduled for that period. Even better, you already know this prospect is more qualified than the cold leads in your pipeline, and you have a higher chance of closing the deal.
4. Salvage timing-related losses
Although prospects with legitimate objections are objectively better leads, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the prospects who are trying to push you away. If you lost deals in the past due to timing, you can go back and try to revive them now. Say, “It’s OK, we don’t have to talk about it now, but what’s the real issue? What’s going to change with time?” Instead of letting them get away with a weak timing objection, get them to reveal the real underlying issues. You should also do research independently on LinkedIn, check out their management team to see who else will be involved in the decision and do an assessment. If you think the issue was really an authority blocker – not timing – you can call and say, “At what point do we need to talk to your VP Dave?” It’s all about being prepared to face the objection, and finding the right angle to get past it.
With the right approach, the next timing objection you encounter won’t slow you down. Instead of calling back prospects in 3 months who have no intention of buying, you can overcome their objections today, and close the deal.