Don’t Listen to the Prospect’s War Stories: Crank Up the Urgency

We live in an age of sound bytes and attention disorders. Today’s children still seem bored even with all the latest video games and social networking sites. We live in an age of proud multitaskers, entitled inspectors of everything and everyone under the sun but with no time for introspection. Today everybody’s an expert (Yelp), and everyone’s just sooo busy, and that makes their lives just sooo crazy. (Do you know these people? They can drive you bananas with all their war tales.)

Yes, there appears to be a lot of urgency out there, and so the salesperson should be asking himself, “Where’s mine?” He knows he needs to stand out from the masses. He doesn’t want to be part of an increasingly large group called “Who?” The members of “Who” don’t rock hard enough to get the respect of the prospect.

Who? From where? No, I don’t remember you. I talk to a lot of salespeople, but I’m busy. It’s crazy here. I’m multitasking. I’m a social worker, social media worker that is. When I’m not busy trying to connect to the rest of the world I write restaurant reviews. That keeps me busy when I’m busy.”

The problem with a lot of salespeople is that they buy into this rap. They become less assertive when they hear how busy the prospect is and how crazy things are at his office. In short, upon hearing the prospect’s urgency, the salesperson backs off and becomes less urgent in his agenda.

Creating urgency is something salespeople should not take lightly, whether the typical sales cycle is two days or two years. Creating urgency is a skill that must be practiced on a daily basis. 

There are a couple of ways of creating urgency and getting the prospect to make a decision. Tone of voice, for example.  Although it’s important to build rapport with the prospect it’s more important that the prospect knows that you mean business, that your time is valuable, and that you’re not just shooting the breeze and going through the sales steps. Your tone should be serious, all business, but not cold and impersonal. It’s a delicate balance but if the prospect knows you’re serious then he’ll take you more seriously. 

Setting time restrictions, of course, is another way to build in urgency. When the prospect replies, “Uh, let me think about it and get back to you,” is he really saying no and letting you down gently? Well, find out. Immediately.

“Well, Bill, let me give you a chance to think things over and let’s touch base at the end of the week? Does that sound good?” If Bill says yes then most likely he’s giving the decision some serious thought. However, if he replies, “Yeah, well, I don’t know. Let me get back to you,” then find out immediately what’s holding him back.

“You sound hesitant, Bill. Is there anything in particular that’s holding you back?”

“Well, I’m just sooo busy and I’ll be honest with you. This is not high on my things to do list.”

Oh, really, Bill? Notice that the previous sentence is not in quotes. That’s what the good salesperson is thinking. The good salesperson will follow up with a probing question.

“I appreciate that, Bill. Perhaps if I know what you’re basing your final decision on we can move the process forward and I can ease some of your workload. I know you’re a busy man.”

If Bill gives you a good reason (money, an offer from a competitor, etc.) then you’re in the game. If not, ask him again when you can follow up. If Bill is still vague and noncommittal then it’s time to move on.

A good salesperson has a serious tone of voice. He listens to the prospect’s war stories but he doesn’t get caught up in the prospect’s tales. He does not lose his assertiveness. Instead the good salesperson will ask the prospect probing questions and get to the heart of the matter quickly because he understands that creating urgency separates the buyers from the non-buyers.