Initial Resitance: I Only Have 30 Minutes

Sales excuses, initial resistance

Sales Excuses and Initial Resistance

In a previous article I discussed one of the most common sales excuses, “We just want the price,” and how to effectively move past it.  Now that you know how to handle that one for your benefit and the benefit of your prospects, we’ll turn our attention to another of the common sales excuses, “I only have 30 minutes.”

This time we’ll also talk more about what causes prospects to resist your sales presentation and the sales psychology behind the proper way to respond.

Does this sound familiar:

Your prospect has agreed to an appointment, you arrive on time, take a seat, and then he tells you:

“I only have 30 minutes for our meeting”

You know you were clear when you set the appointment that you needed an hour, but somehow you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the time that you know it will take to deliver your value building presentation.

I’m sure this has happened to you before, and I’m also sure that it will continue to happen for as long as you participate in the profession of selling.

How you response to this initial objection will likely define your success or failure in making the sale, so you better know how to handle it.  When you handle this sales excuse incorrectly you will almost guarantee that the prospect will be ushering you out the door at the end of “30 minutes,” or even worse, not returning your phone calls to reschedule if you insisted on finding a time when they could spend the full about of time you need.

Before we look at the specific response that Sales GIANTs use to overcome sales excuses like this initial resistance, let’s take a look at what the prospect is really saying so that our response is informed by the true intention of the prospect and not just the words they are saying.  As is the case so often in world of selling, there is often a significant difference between what they prospect is saying, and what they really mean.  Lets find out what this form of initial resistance and all  other sales excuses really means.

What the Prospect Really Means by Their Initial Resistance.

When your prospect tells you that they only have a limited amount of time for your meeting, and especially when this amount of time is less than they have agreed to earlier, they are attempting to gain control over the meeting.

And why do they feel the need to offer this initial resistance?

Because they have doubts and anxieties relative to your intentions and the way you will conduct the sales conversation.  Essentially, because they don’t know if the time they will spend with you will add value to their buying process they are seeking to establish a way out of the conversation should they feel that an escape is necessary.

Knowing this about their initial resistance, your response strategy is clear.  You need to move past this initial resistance and get into the substance of your conversation where you can convince them that you will add value to their buying process and that your intentions are to help them solve their problems.  Once you can do this, the prospect’s need for an escape is eliminated, and with it the artificial time constraint they put on the meeting.

This is the most common reason that prospects will establish time limits, but not the only one.  Thus, your response must be designed to handle this scenario, and the other two possible reasons that could be motivating this sales excuse.

The second of those scenarios is that the prospect does have a time commitment that may limit the time you have for your conversation, but that commitment is a soft commitment.  This means that they can get of of it if they needed to, and that they would if you can prove to them in the time that they give you that your conversation is more important.

The third possibility, and the least common, is that the prospect does have something that came up that will take them away from your conversation before you have the time that you would like to fully present.

Since you don’t know which of the three sales excuses you are dealing with, your response needs to work with all three.

Respond this way:

“I appreciate you telling me that up front.  I will say that normally it takes me longer than that to have a conversation about this product, especially if you have questions.  I do know that you are eager to take a look at my product and see if it can provide you be benefits you are looking for so let’s go ahead and get started.  I’ll work as efficiently as  I can and try to finish in the time we have.  If, for some reason I’m unable to finish, at the end of the time we do have at least you will know enough to make the decision if you’d like to invite me back to finish.  How does that work for you?”

And then you have your normal sales conversation.

The beauty of this response to their initial resistance is that it works with each scenario listed above, and just as importantly does not challenge the prospect by trying to reschedule the appointment.  Despite what some people may tell you, this is usually the worst thing that you can do.  At best, when the prospect does have a real time limiting commitment you will end up back at another time, however often in a less advantageous position for not having used the available time from your first meeting to establish your value, and for the inconvenience to the prospect for having to reschedule.

Trying to reschedule in the first two scenarios is much worse.  Since there is no real reason to reschedule, you are only making yourself less efficient for having to come back, and not improving the conditions of the meeting.  The prospect will still have the same anxieties that caused them to express an initial time resistance, and will find another way to express it.  Often, however, the rescheduled appointment will cancel because the prospect has lost interest or they do not feel comfortable meeting with you without the protection of their excuse for not buying.  Essentially, you lost the one chance that you had to sell the prospect on the reasons for owning your product.  With as hard as it is to get appointments in the first place, we should never loose them.

Now here is what happens next.

If at the end of the “thirty minutes” there was no other obligation (scenario 1) and you have convinced the prospect of your value and intentions, you conversation will continue for much longer that the limited time given to you.  Hopefully this results in you making the sale.  If you haven’t convinced them that you were the right person with the right product, they may take their leave using the other obligation as the excuse, which is why they set it up in the first place.  In that case, you failed to provide a compelling message in the time that you had, which should have been enough if the message was the right one.

If the prospect has a soft commitment, one that they could get out of, and you have convinced them of the importance of what you are selling and that you are the right person to solve their problems, they will make a quick phone call to get rid of the other commitment and continue on with you.  Again, if you haven’t convinced them that your conversation was more important that that other commitment, they may take their leave even if they could have moved the conflicting appointment.  You had your shot, but couldn’t convince them that you were more important than the alternative.

Finally, if they really had another commitment, they will remind you that they have to leave, to which you respond:

“It is that time already?  Well then, earlier I mentioned that if we were not able to finish in the time you had today, at least you would be able to decide if you were interested in having me back to finish our conversation.  If that is the case, let me know the day and time and I’ll be back to conclude our discussion.”

As you can see, the response works to overcome this initial resistance in each scenario and maximizes the opportunity to get into productive sales conversations despite the sales excuses of your prospects.

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