It’s that time of the year when you hear most of the prospects say “Call me back after the holidays!” or “Call me back next year.”
You hate listening to it.
Because you know they aren’t going to buy immediately. They might buy it later or worse, they may never.
And you know you aren’t going to meet your targets if you don’t make that sale.
So, how can you overcome this common holiday sales objection—or rather, a stall—and close the year with a bang? In this article, we’ll give you how.
Understand the reason for the sales objection
Most rookie salespeople respond with “I’ll call you back in January” and hang up the phone. But that’s not how you should be tackling this objection.
Think about it; there are only two reasons why the prospect will say “Call me back after the holidays.”
- They are blowing you off and probably think you will forget all about them next year.
- They are genuinely interested in your solution but have a valid reason for not proceeding further this year.
When you have got the prospect on the phone, it’s your chance to get them to talk and understand the reason why they are raising the sales objection. It can be either of the following:
- They have used up the year’s budget.
- There are multiple stakeholders involved in the approval process and they are on vacation.
- The prospect needs to review his current vendor before deciding whether to switch or to stay.
- The prospect is in the middle of finishing the year-end activities before going on vacation.
- The team is in the middle of finalizing their next year’s targets.
- You aren’t talking to the decision maker.
So, how do you handle the sales objection?
The best way to do that is to know where the prospects are in your sales cycle. Did they object during the first connect? Did they object during a follow-up after the discovery call? Or, did they object after the presentation or demo? Your script will vary depending on how far along they are in the sales cycle.
When prospects object during the first call
If the prospect objects during the first connect, they obviously don’t know who you are, what your company does, and the benefits your solution could provide to their company.
Instead of jumping right to your sales pitch, empathize and acknowledge the fact that the prospect is busy, and that you have interrupted their work. Next, ask them the right open-ended question that will get them to open up and talk.
Here’s an example:
“I know you have a bunch of things to wind up before the end of the year, but I would really like to understand how you are currently handling <pain point or challenge>? If we can help, let’s get on a meeting after the first week of January.”
If the prospect has shown some sign of interest and said something like “We are looking for a solution, probably next year”, then get a firm appointment from the prospect.
“Does 2 pm on 5th January work for you?”
You can also show a brief demo of how your solution works and share resources with them to go through before your next meeting. It also helps to send a follow-up email, a few days before the meeting, as a reminder for them to go through your resources and materials.
But, if they respond with “We already have something in place” or “We are using an in-house product”, you can add them to your sales cadence to follow up. The idea is to stay on top of their mind, so when they are ready to switch products, they know whom to get in touch with.
When prospects object after the discovery call
If it’s a follow-up after the discovery call, you have already learned about the prospect’s pain points, challenges, what they want to achieve next year and what’s the timeline.
The best way to handle this situation is to use that information to your advantage while talking to them. Create a sense of urgency and remind them of whether they want to accomplish their goals within the specified date. This will get them to think and probably schedule a firm appointment with you next year.
Here are some examples:
“In our earlier meeting, you mentioned you want to accomplish <their goals> within <timeline>. Meeting the deadline will be difficult if we start in January.”
“Susan, if we get started now, you can accomplish <their goals> within <timeline>. Are there any changes to the plan?”
“Susan, do you still want to accomplish <their goals> within <timeline>?”
When prospects object after the demo or presentation
At this stage, most of the objections that arise revolve around the lack of features and pricing. And when the prospect asks you to call back after the new year, it’s because:
- They are also evaluating your competitors and haven’t decided which one to go ahead with
- They didn’t find the product to be the best fit for their business, or
- They didn’t get the chance to go through your presentation and make a decision
The best way to handle this sales objection is to ask them for the next steps.
Here are some examples:
“Sure, Susan. I can call you back after the holidays. So, what happens next?”
“Sure, Susan. I’ll call you back in January. So, what will be the next steps?”
“Is anything going to change during the holidays?”
If the prospect responds with “We’ll move forward”, “We’ll go ahead and sign the contract” or “We’ll go ahead and start the implementation”, you know they are committed and are willing to make the purchase.
Offer discounts or talk about the benefits of implementing your solution now
If the prospect is a good fit, you can offer them a time-sensitive discount to create a sense of urgency.
“If you buy before the year-end, you will get a discount of 20%. You’ll miss out on this discount if you purchase next year.”
Another way to make prospects close the deal by the end of the year is to talk about the benefits of implementing the solution at the end of the year. This, of course, will help in the case of a business critical solution.
Here are some examples:
“Hey Susan, this is a great time of the year to implement the solution and get your team onboard. There will be minimal impact on your business if you do it now than wait until next year.”
“We’ve seen a lot of businesses shift gears at this time of the year considering it would have very minimal impact on the ecosystem, employees, and data.”
If the prospect doesn’t provide an affirmative response about the next steps, you know they aren’t committing to solving their problem with your solution, or you are simply not talking to the decision maker.
The outcome of this sales objection depends on your relationship with the prospect. If you have a good rapport and relationship with the prospect, you can probe and ask questions to uncover the truth behind the stall, and also get them to act immediately. If you are calling the prospect for the first time, or have a weak relationship with them, you’ll have to, sadly, wait to talk to them after the holidays.
So, how do you respond to this sales objection? Share your script in the comments below.
In the meantime, you can also read about some of the common sales objections and how to handle them.
Cover Image by Anandh Ravichandran