The Toughest Objection of Them All: “We’re Not Hiring and We Have No Budget.”

If you are like most sales and recruiting professionals in the staffing industry, you’re probably frustrated with hearing your prospects and customers tell you, “We’re not hiring and we have no budget.” How does one overcome such an objection? Better yet, how does one even engage in a meaningful conversation when you know your prospect or customer is operating under those circumstances? Here is an idea that has worked for me and hundreds of others.

As we all know, the employment market is currently very challenging and many or most organizations do not have budget to hire consultants. But rather than hoping our prospect or client doesn’t bring up the “no budget/not hiring” objection, we need to do the opposite. We need to bring it up. Yes, you read that correctly. We, as salespeople, need to bring up that objection and address it head-on. If we don’t address it head on, and instead wait for our prospect or customer to bring it up (which we know they will), then we’re stuck in objection handling mode. And coming up with a rebuttal for this objection is much more difficult to overcome than if we address this objection on our terms. Here is an abbreviated sample conversation:

Recruiter/Sales Rep: “John, can I assume your business circumstances are similar to most of my other customers in that you’re not hiring and don’t have budget to hire any additional help now or in the near future?”

Customer: “Yes, Dan, that is the case. I wish I could, but the funding is locked down. We are currently not spending any money on new hires. Try me back in six months.”

Recruiter/Sales Rep: Show empathy for his current situation. “Gosh, John, how are you and your team coping with that?”

Customer: “Well Dan, we are swamped but we are getting by.”

Recruiter/Sales Rep: “John, now that we understand that and expectations are clear that you don’t have budget to hire, let’s change gears and talk about your current projects and all this work that is keeping you so busy.”

Customer: “Uh, okay Dan, what specifically would you like to discuss?”

From here, we steer the conversation to learn more about the specific details of his projects and more specifically, the challenges and issues the customer currently faces. By leading with the objection, we take away the prospect’s excuse for not talking with us. Now that we have eliminated his objection from his “bag of objections,” we are able to move forward with the conversation and discuss his projects and challenges. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to talk with a manager who has no budget and can’t hire?” Because in a down economy, you have to actually sell in order to generate job orders and make placements. And by selling, I mean creating sales opportunities where no pre-defined, budget approved job order exists. More specifically, you have to identify the customer’s pain points or critical business issues and then convert that into a job order. And right now, in this tough economy, your prospects and customers have a ton of “pain.” You just have to identify it and convert it into a sales opportunity.

The difference between a down economy and a good economy is that in a good economy your customers have these very same issues and challenges but you never know about them because you never have to ask. They just give you a job order. But now, in a down economy, you have to uncover what those issues are and sell to them. You have to offer a solution to their problem. In a good economy they do that for you by developing a pre-defined job order. In a tough economy you need to stop seeking out pre-defined job orders and instead seek out customer problems. It’s only when you find a customer problem that you have an opportunity to make a sale.

This Bullhorn Blog post was written by Dan Fisher of Menemsha Group.

Dan Fisher is Founder and Managing Director of Menemsha Group, a Boston sales training and consulting organization. To learn more, visit or email

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