Responding to “I’m not interested.”

in Objections

So you make a prospecting call, deliver your opening, and their response is a quick,

"I’m not interested."

Or, "We don’t need that."

Or something similar.

What do you do?

Many reps say "Thankyouverymuch" and hang up.

Granted, this is not a position where you are going to have your greatest shot at success, percentage-wise. This is like a football team starting from their own two-yard line, 30 seconds to go in the game, and down by eight points. It’s tough to pull this one out.

However, it’s not impossible. It still is worth running another play. After all, you are there anyway and there’s still time on the clock.

First, let’s assess the situation. Are those prospect "not interested" responses REAL objections?

Of course not. They are attempts to get salespeople off the phone. And they usually work. So prospects keep using them.

I call them Triple R’s; Resistant Reflex Responses.

They are reflexive, just like most people typically flinch without thinking about it, reflexively, when startled.  In this case, people say these things without thinking, in response to what they consider a typical sales call.

So what should we do?

Ignore the RRR.

That’s right. It’s not real anyway. So trying to address it with some goofy rebuttal will get you blown off the phone for sure.

What’s goofy? Maybe you’ve seen this in some sales literature:

"Of course you are not interested yet. That’s because I have not yet told you about all the great things that we do…"

Ever try to argue with someone who is irrational? It’s hair-pulling and gets you nowhere, because there is no reasoning behind what they say. Same thing here.

The best route?

Get them talking. Ask a question.

Get their mind off of the response, and instead, talking about something else, preferably a need or problem area you might be able to drill deeper on.

Ask a question about what they are doing, using, or buying in a certain area. Ask how they are now dealing with a problem that you know they are experiencing.

And, be sure you deliver it in a non-threatening, non-adversarial, non-smarty pants kind of way.

Again, this is not necessarily a high-percentage chance for success, but you might just start moving the ball downfield.

Let’s hear this in action. First, the set-up:

Every two weeks I meet with the talented sales crew at Tigerpaw Software http://www.tigerpawsoftware.com/ , the leaders in CRM and integrated solutions software in the niches of telcom, IT/computer networking, and AV/system integrators. Last week we reviewed recorded calls from the reps.

On a prospecting call, one of the reps, Tim Justus, was hit with the Resistant Reflex Response after his opening. Let’s listen in to how he responded.

[audio:http://www.telesalesblog.com/audio/TimTigerpaw.mp3]

That was a great question!

The prospect paused for a few seconds because she now had to think about the answer to the question.

In this particular case, this woman was the accountant at the company. Even though she technically "handled" the software for the organization, it was likely more the administration of the payment details with their vendors. She did know not the nitty-gritty details of the problems being experienced by their technicians, the actual users of the software.

Asking a question like this usually provides an answer, something of substance that we may be able to take and run with. (If you’re wondering what happened on this call, it did not progress further, but at least the attempt was there, which I look at as somewhat of a "win" given the situaton. It was a great question, nevertheless.)

OK, let’s open this up; What do YOU say when hit with the RRR?

Or, what will you say after giving some thought to what I’ve presented. Leave your replies here on the Blog. (To leave a comment, click on "Comments" at the top of this post, or click on the headline of this article if you do not see "Post a Comment" below.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina Forbes October 14, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Our reps also try to get around the RRR by
sharing a challenge or situation that has
been experience by our other clients –
probing to see if the client we have on the phone is also experiencing the same difficulty
and how they are currently handling it
At that time we can offer our product or service solutions

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mary October 14, 2008 at 4:07 pm

I thought his opening statement was way too long…..Although he had introduced himself and his company, greeted the customer by name, he just went on and on in his call reason and what the benefit is to the customer. (I lost interest just listening) She said she didn’t need twice,yet he did not acknowledge her at all, just uh-uh and went right on trying to sell.
Here’s just a suggestion, starting over:
” Intro self company, how are you….the reason for my call is that our company has been able to assist companies like yours to streamline the data integraton process into Quickbook,which can sometimes prove time consuming. (whatever they do) I was wondering if I could discuss some possiblities that might work for your company as well? Would that be alright?
If she said she had all she needed:
Response: I appreciate that, (acknowledge what she said) and I don’t want to take up your time if we can’t help. (focus on customer) If I could just take a moment to ask what your current process is, and how it’s working, there may be another way we might help. Would that be alright?

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Ben October 14, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I think an uh-uh or mmm-hmm can be quite effective, actually, if the subtext is “Goodness, I have heard this objection before and I have still managed to help the person who objected.” You just have to be sincere or can sound condescending.

In a sense, it both acknowledges AND dismisses the objection before moving on. Pretty swift stuff.

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Marsha October 14, 2008 at 4:14 pm

“Apparently, you have a reason for feeling that way — may I ask what it is?”

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Brian October 14, 2008 at 4:23 pm

I find that when using this technique, it is very rare that I don’t get a continued conversation, at least to get some better qualification. People love to talk about what they do, and if I can at least determine it’s not a good fit, then that’s the next best thing to a close, because it saves wasted contact attempts later.

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salesy October 14, 2008 at 6:22 pm

I usually try not to pay attention and keep going and sometimes my attitude wants to return the response with a sarcastic “not interested in what?” Then it goes south from there. I do like the ask a question technique. It should be used everytime you get a response like this one. Thank you for the info. Now all I have to do is put it to work. To me its one more tool that keeps me going in the right direction instead of taking it personal and losing focus and getting a bad attitude that other prospects will pick up on.

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Art October 15, 2008 at 5:07 am

I agree on not using the “Not interested in what?” It puts them on the spot, and the sarcasm continues back and forth.

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Susannah October 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I’m with Mary I thought his opening was way too long. I like short and sweet. I would NEVER ask How are you? It’s way too fake. If I say anything which I rarely do, it’s more like “Hi my name is Susannah with business by phone.com. I hope you’re having a good day so far.” When told “I’m not interested” I say ” I’m not asking you to buy anything or change anything you’re doing. We would simply like to share with you how we have helped other companies increase their new business and depending on your needs it might be something that could help you in the future.

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Gavin Phillips October 15, 2008 at 3:43 am

Clearly whoever wrote that opening script must know what s/he is doing BUT the opening statement did seem over-long to me.

His question after the prospect’s brush-off re the “…operations side of the house” WAS effective in gaining his prospect’s consideration. He has now engaged with prospect, and she is likely to give information Mr Justus can use.

Could this question, along with some other probing ones, have better been built into his opening script?

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Art October 15, 2008 at 5:14 am

Some pretty good comments so far.

I agree, on this call the opening could have been a bit shorter. And, one of the objectives of a great opening is to prevent hearing, “I’m not interested.” But I’m not looking for a critique of this call.

Let me clarify what we’re looking for here: How YOU suggest replying to the Reflex Resistant Response.

So again, what are your suggestions on a call in general when you are quickly hit with, “I’m not interested.”

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Stephen October 15, 2008 at 6:49 am

The first thing to do when someone comes up with the : ‘I’m not interested objection’ is to create a relaxed atmosphere and get your prospect talking

I’m not interested
Well that’s interesting! I was interested in knowing how you came to that conclusion? //I was interested in knowing what motivated you to respond that way? //What criteria did you base yourself upon when making your choice? Price? Quality?

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Adrian Pike October 15, 2008 at 7:09 am

Your in good company that is exactly what the Sales Director of xxxxxx said to me before I helped save him 5 hours a week communicating with his reps!

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Mike October 15, 2008 at 7:19 am

When I get that response, I take the goofy approach and try to shift it to something that will catch them offguard like:

“Did you watch the Phillies game last night?”
“I’m hoping you can help me. My son is off at college and…”
“Can you believe that there is no more Lehman Brothers?”

As you said, it’s a longshot getting what you were hoping to accomplish done anyway. At least this way, if they don’t hang up and actually start talking, I might stand a chance at some good rapport and be able to steer the conversation back to why I originally called them.

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Peggy October 15, 2008 at 8:31 am

I do like how he just ignored her repsonse of “I have what I need now” and just went for a question.

I always ask open ended question as follow up “I understand you think you are set for now, what would need to change for you to consider a new solution?” That most times get some type of area of area of pain or you know if you are calling a person that is a dead end and sometimes they refer you to the right person. Good Selling!

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Jason Chastain October 15, 2008 at 9:27 am

“That’s not a problem. Many of my clients were not looking to change their strategy, until I showed them how a slight adjustment could be twice as effective.” (and to get to the real boss…) “I know your owner will appreciate the simplicity of this. Could you put me through to him please?” (or) “I have openings Tuesday or Thursday..which of those is he available for me to meet him?”

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Scott Parmeter October 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

I would have asked her “so, how long have you been working with your current system.”
It sets up so many other questions.
When’s the last time it has been updated?
What would you like to see changed?
Get her talking about how technology changes every six months.
Ask for the appointment!

and I wouldn’t have asked about the technicians because it’s not her problem. He was talking to an accountant not the operations manager.

Keep selling everyone. Its up to us to get this economy moving again.

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Jeff Kirchman October 15, 2008 at 11:06 am

I find that some of the most powerful words in the language are the shortest: yes, no, but, etc. Another one is ‘why’. Depending on the tone of the conversation to that point, I might ask it straight up in a non-confrontational manner and wait for an answer. But I may also preface it, like so: “I understand you feel you’re set — can I ask why you feel there’s no way to improve your existing program?”

As has been said, this is the equivalent of football’s Hail Mary pass. But there is such a play…sometimes they connect. One of my guiding rules is ‘Get them talking long enough and they’ll tell you how to sell them.’

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karen morton October 15, 2008 at 11:27 am

Hi Art,

by the way congratulations on your website, regular tips and blogs – all very well done and I enjoy hearing what you have to say.

Firstly, we get the RRR because we have not introduced ourselves in an interesting way or there is a tone to our voice that suggests we are not really expecting to get a quality business conversation.

When I am working with sales teams and we prepare our USP’s or indeed relevant and valuable selling points I get everyone to make a list of every possible objection they can possibly think of. Putting the two together – it never fails but you will find that for every RRR (objection) there is a unique selling point that can reopen the conversation. I think that this is worth fellow bloggers having a go of as it has worked very well for those that I have worked with here in the UK. As you say, not that you will get a sale on each and every call but certainly an open door to come back, permission to e-mail useful information and often a time allocated in the future. It certainly makes you feel better as a sales person to know that you can overcome RRR and with this confidence your opening introduction to a sales call improves.

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Art Sobczak November 7, 2008 at 11:40 am

Great point on being prepared for objections/RRR’s. They should not surprise us.

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Lori Yeary October 15, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I have found that putting yourself more in common with what really can be the objection is also helpful….That is to say, when I get an “i’m not intersted”, I can bring in real-life, sincere comments that tend to make our prospects less guarded. I have introduced systems, (we are an IT technology organization) and have persons say they are not interested in a particular solution, etc….
I try to align myself with what could quite possibly be the “real deal” on the other end of the line—fear of change, fear of more work in learning newer systems, etc. Even IT personnel will normally try to limp along at times as opposed to make changes that require an intensive man house/training combination for implementation and training.
I have had a reply such as “I know what you mean..I myself was very used to working with XXX at our organization, and was not looking forward to learning a new system and “starting over” but now that we have changed internal systems in CRM
I am always pleasantly surprised at how much
easier by daily work is, and how much more
efficient I have become.” I don’t know how I lived without it!” That can also be a good response to get a guarded prospect more relaxed and open to an introductory conversation.

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Lynn October 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Hi Art – We just purchased your “HTSMILTWNR” coaching system. We are working to apply the techniques.

Beverly led me to believe that she was the “go to” person for this product. So I might have gone with something like “Beverly, is sounds like you are the “go to” person for a product like this. May I ask, what brand of software do you use currently and what do you like about it? Then maybe lead into – let me ask you – if our product could deliver a better result in this area, would you want to hear more?

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LBB October 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

While that’s a good example of getting someone off of the RRR as you put it, it’s a perfect example of the typical canned sales call approach, the kinds that prospects hear 100’s of times a week if not more, depending on what you company offers.

First off, I personally do not use that approach at all and it’s probably why I hardly ever hear “I’m not interested”. You see, you have to distinguish and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other saleseman out there selling a variety of services or solutions into the same markets.

Unless you stand out, your close and conversion rates will not be as high as they could and should be.

Truthfully, until you hear the prospect admit to the pain or challenge they are experiencing (even if you already know it), your path will be uphill.

Here is my opening script (which if you notice, does not get into the laundry list of the nuts and bolts of what we provide). I deliberately leave it open until the prospect has confirmed the pain or need and not before then.

“Hi Mike, this is Ed with XYZ’s marketing department and I was hoping you had a quick minute or two to provide me some direction and guidance.” My experience has been 99% of the time people say yes – the other 1% that are truly busy, when they say No, I respond with:

“I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time but would it be better if I try you this afternoon at 2 or tomorrow morning at 9?”

Assuming they say they have the time, my next “line” is:

“Thanks I appreciate your time. I’m trying to find the person within your organizaiton who has as part of their focus and responsibility driving out or controlling costs around (insert what your business solves here) and find out if there would be any benefit in opening a dialogue between us on the subject, if not now then down the road when it’s convenient.”

*this last part of my dialogue is important because it has the effect of loosening their guard “Ok, he’s not trying to sell me something today and yeah, if I need to then down the road I may want to talk to him.”

“I’m the new adviser/account manager/account executive in the area and I a looking for some time to introduce myself to the right person.”

If i am already talking to the right person and I know it, it has an added benefit because naturally, people want to take responsibility for areas they control (that’s their job) so they tend to puff out their chests in response, usually:

“Well, I handle that, that’s me.”

If it’s not the right person, almost always I get:

“Oh, well that’s handled by Bob Smith. I can transfer you over there if you like?”

Now, my goal here isn’t to sell them anything because frankly, our solutions take 9mos to a year or more to close but getting the right person to open up is the first step no matter what you sell and that’s really my point here.

“Great. I was hoping you could find some time on your calender when it’s convenient for you, about 30 minutes or so, for a short introduction and discussion on the latest challenges facing contact centers in this tough economy.”

Decsion makers are busy people and they are usually trying to juggle tons of balls – both executive management directives, their own departmental objectives, perhaps suboridnates and inter-departmental issues, custome rissues – theirs is a busy, busy life. The truth is they are in most cases on the lookout for ways to make their jobs easier, to take some of that load off BUT they do not want to be sold to.

And that’s really the beauty of the approach I use because I’m not selling them but I’m offering them a chance to see what’s out there. Our product is incredible and it helps to be the industry leader sure, but once they see how our solution solves their key business issues with a short term ROI, closing becomes a matter of course rather than a fight.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my perspective.

To Your Success!

Best regards,

Loaded Beach Bum

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Art Sobczak November 7, 2008 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful comments. Some great ideas.

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Nader Al Adawi October 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Dear Art,
Thanks for giving the opprtunity for 16 experts to sahre comments. We always gather around your usefull and value adding tips.

Many times we are faced with the RRR, for three reasons.Either because the customer is satisfied with his own system, with a competittor or does not see any need for our product. In all these cases the customer will perceive the new vendor as an ID (Irritation and Distraction) accordingly wil give him a very little time.
Since Beverly is satisfied with what’s on hand, she will not be willing to listen to Tim who should revolve his strategy around uncovering unrealised need that might be of interest to Beverly. He can’t achieve that without doing some homework and adopting a prophylactic measure. Tim should be more prepared by knowing in advance what sustem is in use , what are its limitations and what problems can the existing system generate.
If I am in his shoes and keeping the ID concept in mind, I’ll use one very well selected open question aftter taking permission to ask, and I will never ask the question “What are you currently using?” this is too commercial.
I will be more focused on systems and solutions, for example: “Ms. Beverly If I may ask, how you currently streamline and integrate you data? Then after listening to her comment, I’ll try to highlight the pain with her current systems, for example “Ms. Beverly many clients using the same system said it tends to produce XYZ problem, how do you handle this when it happens? Taking the customer into an unrealized need and solving his problem with a benefit that is not existing in the competitor is the road to success with RRR.

Nader Al Adawi
Sales Training Manager,
Janssen – Cilag Pharma
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Gulf Countries

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Art Sobczak November 7, 2008 at 11:45 am

Nader, I like the idea of asking about how they handle the function, as opposed to what they are using. It can smoke out details that you can then question, as opposed to giving them an easy way of saying, “We’re using EXY Company and we’re happy.”

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Juan Ortega October 16, 2008 at 11:02 am

I am surprised you said that! ( shut up and listen) The real reason they will continue the converstion or not will be uncovered in the response.
We’ve recognized for a long time that telephone calls are 99% of the time an interuption to thier business. Keep it short and simple, engage them and the script continues…

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Jeff October 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

can you recommend any books or other sources.

I liked your response on Art’s blog

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Tim October 16, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Customer:
“I’m not interested!”

Rep:
“That’s exactly why i’m calling…”

Then give follow up statement/question

(I like to have a relaxed and happy tone so that I can talk to them with the same tone I would use talking to a friend)

“All of us get so busy and are programmed with that response, but depending on your circumstances you may be able to streamline x,y,z and save some time.”

Then i’d ask a question about how they are currently doing business to determine if what I am offering would indeed help.

I usually have 3 goals when selling

1- Be myself

2- talk to them like I would a friend

3- before I try and sell anything I ask questions to determine if my product will benefit them.

Most people don’t ask someone on a date unless they think they are attractive in some way…. Learn if the customer is “your type” meaning you can indeed help them by asking questions.

Someone reading this blog has probably dated someone who first wasn’t interested….but that didn’t stop them.

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Louie Bernstein October 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm

“That doesn’t surprise me. Most of my successful customers said they weren’t interested the first time I called them. May I just ask you one question? It would really help me improve.”

If you she says no, politely leave. Rarely happens.

“I understand you are satisfied with your current provider/solution, but If you could change just one thing about their product/service, what would it be?”

LouieBernstein.com

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George Barnum October 16, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Hello Art,

I applaud the responses from LBB and Nader Al Adawi. “I am not interested” or any other RRR is the customers way of cummunicaing their distrust of the caller. Being proactive can eliminate this response most of the time.

The best way to deal with it is to acknowledge their response and ask permission to try again, ie ask a better question that is not perceived by them as a threat.
Example,

I appeciate your honesty, and not being interested at THIS TIME, but before I GO
could I ask you another question?
or as LLB states “could you provide me with some direction and guidance” Perfect:)

Even the best opening statement is useless if your intent (your mind is worrying about other stuff that day) is not there to genuninely help the company at the time you are calling. You must always be focused on helping the clients hit their numbers and ask THE TOUGH QUESTIONS. Only then will you reach your numbers.

Sincerely,
The Vegas Connection

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Mike @ C2C Resources October 17, 2008 at 7:26 am

Ok, so the rep didnt take the first no. CONGRATULATIONS! Am I the only one to lose him 1/4 of the way through his encyclopedic attention getting statement??? I am amazed with that approach she didnt hang up midstream. Yes ALL salespeople should realize that “not interested” really means I dont know why I should be interested yet, but if this guy cut his AGS by 75%, he would have a lot more success

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Russ Salo October 17, 2008 at 9:50 am

This is a great reminder to source out the real objection -My company sells specialized GPS Navigation & Tracking to TV Newsrooms & often the News Director will say” We pretty much know all of the streets in our town -we dont need GPS -besides we have GPS on our cell phones” It’s not that they don’t need – they’re not seeing the value in a professional GPS system tailored to TV News. The news dir doesn’t see what the assignment editor see’s of the chickens running round –head cut off -what’s that address again – car 24 where are you????

The assignment editor knows the probs but the news dir looks at it purely from cost & budget $$’s -unfortunately he’s often the one making the PO’s

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db October 20, 2008 at 2:42 pm

I go with either:

“OK – what’s your role with the system?”

or

“Oh – what is it you’re not interested in?”

It’s clear I have the wrong person on the phone, so I just want to clear up if they already have a solution, or if it’s worth trying to find someone in the organization that cares.

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Max Chimirri October 24, 2008 at 11:30 pm

My industy is not high tech like alot of what I am seeing here. I talk to regular guys working in the Laundry Dept.that are not using there own money and I sell stuff that they must buy, So its very easygoing, basically if they like you they will buy from you, so I dont know if this will work a more serious type of product.

“I am not interested”
My response- (Prospects Name) A girl I met 15 years ago said the same thing to me and you know what happened? (What) She married me. Then just go into my questions.
It usually gets a laugh and they loosen up

Also thanks for all the good advise on this blog, Your all awesome and Thanks Art your material is great
Max Chimirri

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Art Sobczak November 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

Max, that’s funny stuff! You’re right, might not work for everyone, but it certainly does not sound like a typical salesperson and I can see why it would disarm someone.

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James October 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Generally I try my best to avoid the “I’m not interested” response, by asking them an open ended question within my pitch or doing a reverse pitch, depending on the situation.

However, I have found that there are certain times when they will tell you they are “not interested” and so I try and find out the reason why; by asking an open-ended question, or I tell them “that’s not a problem” which sometimes catches them off guard.

If I do not receive a favorable response, then I will wait and contact the prospect again within two months as they would have forgotten me anyway. Alternatively, I would contact somebody else lower down the food chain that I could qualify, to use the information as part of my arsenal when qualifying the initial prospect again.

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Mike Tymczyszyn October 31, 2008 at 10:18 am

I encounter this response all the time, and while I agree that his opening statement is too long (I can almost hear the lack of interest she is emitting halfway through his speech), I think his question was an interesting way to get her off topic and ease up a bit. We all hear this regularly and have some great ideas about how to get around it.

Personally, I’ve had some success with stating that I have no intention of taking too much of their time and asking permission to continue, almost ignoring the “RRR” altogether.

My typical response after the “RRR” goes something like this (by the way I sell high end business to business internet connectivity and other data services for a telecommunications company):

“I understand you may not have a need right now, but would it be okay if I asked you a few questions? In this ever changing market there may be services and solutions available for problems you haven’t even started to realize you’re facing. What sort of a disaster recovery strategy do you have in place?”

Note: this last question leads into one of the products we specialize in, and leads the conversation away from the “RRR” because now they have to think about what to say.

Mike Tymczyszyn
Business Development Rep

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Art Sobczak November 7, 2008 at 11:53 am

Mike, I like the deflection with the explanation before you ask the question at the end.

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Danica November 11, 2008 at 10:18 am

I definitely agree with the asking an open ended question approach. If the response is “I’m not interested,” I’m in favor of asking them to elaborate and then explaining that it would help me understand if it’s a matter of X or Y. For example: “I see, could you possibly elaborate for me a little, so I can understand better if it’s a matter of cost, or a matter of application?”

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Adrian May 16, 2017 at 9:54 pm

So there are issues with receiving emails but why when you see people on the street and subway on their phońe and i try to call i get voice mail. I don’t leave messages. Tàlk or don’t.

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