You’ve been speaking with a prospect for a while. You’ve got a sense of their goals and their pain, and it seems like your offering is a great fit for their business.

You’re all ready to set a date for a product walkthrough or start discussing contract terms, but then your prospect says something that stops you in your tracks.

“Can we talk about this next quarter? It’s just not a good time for us to buy right now.”Free Download: A Guide to Inbound Selling Best Practices

Great. Not only is this a deal you had in your pipeline, but you’ve also sunk a significant amount of time working with your prospect. And now they’re not going to buy?

Prospects commonly use the sales timing objection to stall or force you to walk away. Although sometimes there are true obstacles, a prospect who wants to buy but truly can’t right now will proactively let you know their timeline and exactly what’s blocking them.

This objection is most often raised when a prospect doesn’t feel a sense of urgency or hasn’t seen enough value in your offering to buy. Use these timing objection responses to get to the heart of your prospect’s hesitation.

22 Sales Timing Objection Responses

1. “If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to start with our product today?

If your prospect says no, they don’t think your product is valuable. Find out why. If your prospect says yes, dig deeper to discover what logistical hurdles are standing in their way.

2. “What’s holding you back?

By getting your prospect to talk through their reasoning, you’ll be in a better position to address their hesitation.

3. “When would be a good time to buy?

If your prospect's answer doesn't sound all that different from their current circumstances, follow up with #9.

4. “What are your company’s other priorities right now?

It’s possible that your prospect has several other pressing projects that need to be completed. If you have the whole picture, you’ll be able to tell how much of an impact your offering can really make right now, or even better -- how your product can help achieve the other goals. If it turns out your prospect’s goals are being pushed aside by management, follow up with #5.

5. “How can I help you get the resources you need to sell this to the decision maker?

Determine where your prospect’s having difficulty gaining traction, then help get internal buy-in.

6. “So is X goal no longer a priority for you?

Tie your product to a tangible goal you and your prospect have discussed. This question moves the discussion away from the actual purchase process and back to the story of how your offering can improve your prospect’s business. Follow up with #7 and #8.

7. “What happens to those goals if you don’t act now?

What’s your prospect’s Plan B? Maybe they have a good one, and in that case your offering may not be a good fit. But making your prospect realize they have no other way of solving their problems will get you back in the game.

8. “When are you hoping to achieve X goals by?

If your prospect can’t define this, you’re either talking to them in the education stage or their problems aren’t severe enough to warrant solving right now. But if they need to hit a goal in the next three months, there's clear pain to be addressed.

9. “If I call you back next quarter, what circumstances will have changed?

Maybe your prospect is in the middle of a massive internal initiative and doesn’t have bandwidth to talk to you right now. Maybe your prospect is waiting on a round of funding to come in.

Or maybe they’re just stalling.

Get your prospect to evaluate whether anything -- their budget, their priorities, their goals -- is actually going to be different when you next speak. If they’ll truly be ready to pull the trigger then, why not now?

10. “What’s going to be different next quarter?

A broader, rhetorical spin on #9. Question your prospect’s motivations for brushing you off without coming right out and saying it.

11. “How are you performing against your end-of-year goals [as they relate to your product]?

A good way to remind your prospect why they were talking to you in the first place. A prospect who saw absolutely no problem with their current business wouldn’t have taken your call. Delaying a purchase will only make those problems worse.

12. “Here’s the timeline for ROI if we start in X months. Does that work for you?

There’s that sense of urgency again. Remind your prospect that implementing a new product doesn’t produce overnight results.

The question here is implicit -- can they really afford to wait to buy?

13. [Silence.]

“I hit the mute button and wait to see how my prospect continues,” says Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot.

A prospect with a real objection will ask, “Are you there?” or wait for you to follow up, says Tyre. But if your prospect starts to waffle more or talking in a stream-of-consciousness, it's a good sign they’re just brushing you off.

14. “Do you understand [product’s] value?

“In all my years of selling, nobody’s ever said no,” says Tyre.

Follow up with #15 to really drive this point home.

15. “Which part of [product] do you think would help your company the most?

This question gets your prospect to reiterate their goals and forces them to tell you why your product is a good fit for them, instead of making them listen to you talk about it. It can also trigger important red flags -- for example, if you’ve been focusing on one area of your product but they bring up an entirely different area, it’s a sign you need to restart the conversation on different terms.

16. “Is it the timing, or is something else concerning you?

A timing objection may be a smokescreen. To find out what’s really holding your prospect back, ask this question.

The buyer will either say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m worried about [different issue] … ” or “It’s not a good time to buy because [valid reason] ... ”

In both cases, you’ll uncover the true issue -- which you can then resolve.

17. “Why?”

Simple answers are sometimes the most effective. The buyer is probably expecting that you’ll try to convince them it is a good time to buy, so this response will catch them off-guard (in a good way).

Once they’ve given you context, you can decide whether they’re in a position to move forward or not.

18. “I understand, as a customer of mine was in a similar situation. They ultimately decided to purchase [product] because of [trigger event, challenge, opportunity] and [product’s ROI]. In the past [X amount of time], they’ve seen [Y results].

Your prospect has shared why they want to wait (see the previous question) -- but you think it’s in their best interest to act sooner.

Use a relevant case study to make your prospect think twice about turning you down. After you’ve shown them evidence your solution works, they’ll be eager to reap its benefits for themselves.

19. “Thanks for your honesty -- I don’t want to waste your time or mine until you’re ready to make a decision. In the meantime, can I send you any valuable content I find on [prospect’s industry, market, challenge, role]?

According to HubSpot sales director Dan Tyre, this response works well with prospects who can’t buy soon no matter what you say. (They’ve already exhausted their budget for the year, the company’s strategy is in flux, new legislation will go into effect soon and they need to gauge the implications, and so on.)

Pressuring them to buy will only make them screen your calls and emails. Instead, ask to periodically send them helpful content. You’ll stay top-of-mind while adding value and building up your status as a trusted advisor.

When they are ready to buy, you’ll be the first salesperson they contact.

20. "Sometimes when people say X, it really means Y. Is it safe for me to assume that's the case here?"

Sales pro Mike Rogewitz saves this question for those objections he just can't overcome. It's Sandler's Negative Reverse Selling methodology, and it goes something like this:

Prospect Sam:I’m headed into a meeting; can you give me a call next week?

Salesperson:Sam, I’ve tried to connect a few times now. Typically, when this happens, it means this is a low priority for you at the moment. Is it fair for me to assume that’s the case?

Prospect Sam:Well if you don’t want to talk to me, then I’d rather not do business with you.

Salesperson:Hey Sam, my apologies. I do want to talk, but I feel like I’m driving you crazy here with all these voicemails and missed calls. I’d hate to keep bothering you if it’s not necessary. It might be best if you reach out when it’s a better time.

Rogewitz warns, "It should never feel like you’re taking revenge on an uninterested prospect by saying, 'You always say you’ll call me back, Sam,' which turns the conversation into an accusation and, sometimes, an argument." He continues, "By keeping things constructive, you’ve put the negativity on yourself instead of on the prospect."

21. "Are there any large company events/initiatives coming up that would make this a priority?"

If a prospect is unwilling to commit to your timeline, it might be because their budget is uncertain, a large company announcement is on the horizon, or large industry event is looming that would make your timeline difficult to implement.

Ask questions like, "The timeline seems to be a stumbling block for us. Is there a company/industry event coming up that might be causing you hesitation to pursue an aggressive timeline?"

If the answer is, "Yes, I'm actually worried my budget might be cut next week." you know what the objection is and how to proceed. If the answer is, "No, our company has a lot of red tape, and I'm worried this timeline doesn't reflect that." you've still gotten to the bottom of the real issue and can move forward.

22. "Is there anything I can give you to make a stronger case to [decision maker]?"

Sometimes, your prospect might be hesitant to move forward simply because they've received pushback from their manager or the ultimate decision maker.

Ask if there's anything you can do to support your prospect and help them make a stronger case to their boss. This might look like a one-sheet of talking points, a case study, or an informative blog post.

A simple, "How can I help," can mean the different between closed lost and close won.

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Originally published Apr 9, 2018 8:57:00 PM, updated April 11 2018