I’m Happy with My Current Vendor. Try Me Back in 6 Months.
We’ve all heard this one before…over and over and over again. Let’s face it, it’s not an easy one to overcome. And rule #1 in sales is “no pain, no sale.” In other words, if the customer has no dissatisfaction with their current situation and/or supplier(s), then it has no compelling reason to make a change and start using your service or product. It will stick with the supplier that has proven itself. After all, “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” The trick to getting new opportunities with new customers who give you this objection is getting the prospect to open up and share with you its dissatisfaction with its current provider. How do you do that?
First, we must be certain we are doing an effective job of disarming our prospects and making them feel comfortable in speaking with us. Ultimately, if our prospects don’t “let us into their world,” we will never learn about their business issues and thus be able to offer ideas and solutions to those business issues. If a prospect is afraid to make themselves vulnerable to you, then you have not effectively disarmed it. Think of the movie Good Will Hunting and how Robin Williams (the psychologist) had to make Matt Damon (patient) feel comfortable before he would open up and talk. For tips on how to do this, check out my white paper, Cold Calling Tips & Techniques. Now back to that objection. When I first got into sales and I started hearing the “I’m happy with my current vendor” objection, I use to always respond by asking, “If you could change one thing about your vendor, what would it be?” My hope was that the prospect would tell me something about its vendor that it was not happy with and thus give me an opening. But I almost always got a “nothing, our vendor is great” response. And in those rare occasions when the prospect did have something negative to say about their vendor, it always counter balanced it by saying, “But I don’t expect my vendor to be perfect,” or, “But that doesn’t mean I’m looking for a new vendor.” In the end, I never got through the objection. Until one day, and by accident I finally broke through. Here is what happened:
Client: “Dan, we’re happy with our current suppliers, but you’re more than welcome to stay in touch. Try me back in 6-9 months.”
Dan: “Thanks for the feedback, Mr. Customer. Despite how much I really want your business, I’m sincerely happy for you and your company and how well your vendor has performed. Let me ask you, what is their secret? It’s as if they are perfect.”
Client: Goes on to tell me about all these great things their vendor does and what they love about them. The client just goes on and on about how great his vendor his, what am I supposed to do? I have nothing to say in response because I am stuck. I don’t know how to respond. So we have a long uncomfortable pause that seems to last forever. While I’m thinking of how to respond, the customer finally speaks up (after a long pause) and says “You know Dan, I guess the one area that has been a concern is…”
First, I was relieved that the customer said something, because I had no idea where to take the conversation. He sort of let me off the hook because nothing was coming to mind. Second, and more importantly, he opened up the door for me to ask further clarifying and qualifying questions to understand this concern in further detail. We went ahead and had a conversation about that concern and how I thought I might be able to address it. Long story short, that prospect became a customer. So what is the lesson learned?
When a prospect gives you the “I’m happy with my current vendor” objection ask them the following question: “What do you like best about working with ABC Company?” No matter what they say in response, wait 7-10 seconds even if it seems like an eternity and becomes an uncomfortable moment of silence (which it will). See if the prospect offers up a negative comment or concern about their current supplier. Not always, but often, they will. And as my example above shows, a prospective typically will not share with you what they don’t like about their current supplier when you blatantly ask them. But you can pull it out of them if you are patient and tactful. Remember, the key to this is to shut your mouth and not say a word no matter how unnerving it is. Try it next time you hear the objection and see how the conversation goes. Once you get the prospect to share its point of dissatisfaction with its supplier, it is up to you to turn that “pain point” into a sales opportunity. Keep asking questions.
This Bullhorn Blog post was written by Dan Fisher of Menemsha Group.