I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a veteran sales rep with this question. It’s one I’m sure everyone has dealt with in the past and hopefully, after reading this post, you'll be able to handle it much better in the future!
I can imagine this would really “take the wind out of your sails.” You’ve got a great product that should be a good opportunity for this account, and you basically get “shot down before take-off.” What a buzz kill!
This situation could certainly be disconcerting, and underscores the importance of having a good selling strategy. We have discussed in the past and will continue to discuss the importance of trying to get your prospect to take the lead and identify a current situation, problem or “motive” that might get them to make some type of change in what they’re currently using/buying. Getting this objection would suggest that strategy was clearly not followed.
Looking for the “magic silver bullet,” the sales rep sent me an email asking how I would have handled this and what recommendations I would have for turning the situation into a sale. I suggested, “Apparently you've confused me with Moses!” Maybe he could part the Red Sea, unfortunately I can’t.
Consider for a minute your prospect’s situation. They just switched to a new vendor; went through the time, effort, and trouble to make the change, and believe they’ve made a good decision. Do you really think you have a chance to get them to change again? I don’t think so!
Now certainly you might respond with:
“Thank you for telling me. I’m sure you’re probably happy with the product that you’ve switched to.”
Assuming that they are happy with the change they’ve made, using an assumptive statement keeps you from criticizing their decision. However, if for some reason they’re not, this would be a non-threatening way to get them to identify that.
Interestingly, this would be a perfect opportunity to gain some insight on what is significant to this account. Perhaps the best question to ask at this point would be:
“I’m curious. What was it about the product that you were using that you didn’t like, and what got you to make this change?”
This would be an unspoiled opportunity to receive bonus insight into what your customer is looking for. Was it a problem with product performance? Was it a problem with vendor performance? Was it caused by the need for lower pricing to reduce cost? Did they make a change to try to get better patient outcomes?
All of these are possible reasons that you want to discover which could drive you to discussions on other products. Their desire to achieve any of the goals in the questions above is a clear “motive” and reason for change.
Some sales you win, others you lose, and some sales you’ve lost before you even start! I think this situation is one of the latter, but with some patience and a good set of questions, you can “turn lemons into lemonade” and get information that will allow you to be more successful with this customer.
Something else we need to consider is why were we not aware of this opportunity in the first place? Here again, you can’t get them all, but are you asking your clients about their regularly-scheduled product reviews? Again, good preventive account intelligence will limit this objection.
I always love questions from the field, and will provide strategies and tactics that may not get back what you lost, but put you in a better position to win the next round!
About the Author
John Hirth is President of Selling Dynamics
, a professional Sales Force Development firm with both national and international experience. They work with companies and provide strategies and tactics to increase revenue, improve profits and lower cost of sales. John is also a well known thought leader and writer
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.