How to Sell to Prospects Who Aren't Ready to Buy

Posted by Jeff Hendricks on Thu, Sep 07, 2017
Jeff Hendricks
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Everyone’s heard the phrase, “Time is money.” Especially in sales, there’s an emphasis on getting the most from your time. This often creates an environment where sellers don’t want to “waste time” on prospects who aren’t ready to buy.

Most sellers see this type of prospect as a wasted effort because they don’t respond to the same selling approach that works with ready-to-buy prospects. In reality, that attitude is a detriment to every seller and prospect in need of expertise. Good sales people are eager to meet with prospective clients, even if that prospect isn’t ready to buy right now. The best sales people know that spending time with these prospects can easily turn into money later.

It just takes the right selling approach.

Remember when you had a knockout presentation or demo with a potential client? They loved the product! They were so interested! And ever since then, you’ve been following up, getting no response. Sound familiar? Funnel Clarity often works with front-line managers who see this issue, and point to contact plans as the problem. Many assume their team’s follow up messaging must be missing something.

We take a lot of pride from helping these sales managers understand the bigger picture: it’s not what happens during or after the “demo,” that secures a sale. The issues your clients are looking to address started long before that call or meeting. Closing the deal comes from understanding how to leverage the introductory conversation and build rapport. 

The methods for doing that will vary depending on how close your prospect is to a buying decision. Research has shown that at any given time, B2B buyers fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those that are completely satisfied with the solution they are using today.
  2. Those that are not completely satisfied but are not yet actively pursuing an alternative.
  3. Those that are actively seeking to purchase a solution.

It’s possible to determine which group a prospect is in by asking insightful questions. Once it’s clear how the prospect feels about a potential buying decision, sales people need to respond accordingly.

Most sellers are comfortable and confident with the third group; those that are actively seeking to buy. It’s the first two categories that often create frustration or disinterest: prospects that are completely satisfied and prospects who are only experiencing minor issues or concerns. In both cases, the prospect is not actively seeking a solution, and many sellers struggle to adapt their messaging to that focus.

What’s harrowing for sales leaders, is that these two problematic groups of prospects represent 97% of your potential market. That means only 3% of the market is actively looking for a solution like the one your company provides.

Therefore, sellers who improve their ability to build rapport, provide insight, and develop prospects into buyers will have significantly more opportunities. However, doing so requires positioning yourself as an authoritative subject matter expert and informative resource, as well as using strategic contact plans.

It’s no secret that the modern B2B buyer is becoming increasingly more informed, and as a result, sellers need to provide value before the sale. The most effective way to do this is to share relevant information about common challenges the prospect faces. If a seller consistently offers value a prospect who is not ready to buy, that seller will be the first one the prospect calls when the situation changes.

In addition, according to research by Chally, “understanding of the customer’s business” and “personal management of the total customer relationship” were cited as two of the biggest reasons a customer chose to buy. These findings underscore the importance of maintaining consistent communication with prospects, even those who are not ready to buy. Whether through email automation, an administrative assistant, or a marketing drip campaign, maintaining communication is a requisite part of building the relationships that are necessary to selling today.

Sales people who respond to a prospect’s readiness to buy will see better success rates. Sellers who build unique, value-based relationships with every prospect, regardless of their readiness to buy, will generate more revenue and help all parties involved get the most from their time.

Looking for more on how to develop prospects?

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Topics: Qualification