Nothing, absolutely nothing, cuts a conversation with a prospect shorter than a brusque, “I am not interested.” Knowing how to respond to this objection can make selling much easier.
Not Interested… Or Are They?
When a prospect says, “I am not interested” do they really mean it? Perhaps in some cases this is true, but what prospects might really be saying is:
“I might be interested…but I have been inundated with sales reps who have wasted my time and I suspect you are yet another…so, I am not interested!”
or, “I might be interested… but I have something more pressing on my plate and I don’t want to be bothered right now… so I am not interested.”
or, “I might be interested… but I am getting ready for vacation and I want to be out of here by 2:00…so I am not interested now.”
or, “I might be interested… but on my own terms…so I am not interested now.”
The “I am not interested” objection does not necessarily mean that they are not interested but rather that you caught them off guard and they are not prepared for your unsolicited call. Their objection is not grounded in anything rational. Their objection is a “knee jerk” reaction which means it is automatic or spontaneous; an automatic reflex brought on by your unsolicited call.
To make it worse, we as sales reps tend to surrender by murmuring an apology and hanging up. Prospects have learned that the “I am not interested” objection is a fast, easy, and highly effective way to brush you off and if you continue to surrender to them, your days in sales will be agonizing.
The Best Turnaround Script
Assuming you have a decent opening statement and it is delivered well, here is an extremely effective template that you can use with some minor tinkering.
If you sell to IT directors, your reply to the objection might look like this:
“Oh, I am sorry. My understanding was that you were the person in charge of reducing IT costs and ensuring software compliance. Can you tell me who I should speak to?”
Suppose you sell safety or health programs to manufacturers and distributors:
“Oh, I am very sorry Mr. Jones. My understanding was that you were the person in charge of reducing death and injury on the job site. Can you please tell me who I should speak to?”
Suppose you are speaking with an office manager in a professional office:
“Oh, I am sorry to bother you. It was my understanding that you were the person in charge of reducing operating costs and improving efficiencies. Could you tell me who I should be speaking to?”
Why it Works
This reply is positively brilliant and ingenious because it is rich in psychology. It subtly and politely shames the prospect. It indirectly reminds the prospect that one of their key responsibilities is to reduce costs, or eliminate injuries or improve efficiencies, or minimize risk, or whatever the benefit might be.
The reply suggests or hints that the prospects are shirking their responsibilities. It’s a wake-up call and you delivered it.
Because your reply implies that you are talking to the wrong person, it doesn’t look or sound like you are chastising the prospect.
It sounds like you made a genuine mistake and that you are sorry for interrupting but you would like to find the person who IS responsible for these major benefits.
In effect, it looks as though you blew it… rather than the prospect.
Dozens of sales reps who have used this technique have reported that the prospect typically murmurs something like, “Ah…er…what’s this about?” When that happens, you have won. It doesn’t always guarantee you will get a sale, but it does mean you can move further into the sales call.
Watch Your Delivery
The script is clever and compelling but what really makes this response work is your delivery and the tone of your voice.
When you apologize, your tone must be sincere. You must sound like you, too, were caught off guard. In effect, you are in the spotlight and you must deliver your lines well. If you don’t, you can sound sarcastic and flippant.
You must practice your lines. Practice being sincere and contrite. Have some fun, practice a little quiver in your voice. Practice pausing and sounding like you were caught unaware. Practice. Practice is what makes this work.
A Second Chance To Sell
Of course, there will always be prospects who will simply hang up after uttering the “I am not interested” objection. There will be others who listen to your reply and hang up regardless. So it goes. The point is this technique will salvage some prospects.
It will temper their knee-jerk objection and give you another opportunity to sell. Finally, ask yourself this: what is the worst that can happen? The prospect can hang up on you, but he or she was going to do that anyway. So give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Inside our FREE eBook, The 7 Rules Of Sales Negotiation, you’ll find tips, techniques, and tactics that will help you go toe-to-toe with modern buyers and negotiate the prices, terms, and conditions you deserve.
About the author
Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and works with B2B companies and individuals…