You and I are making cold calls to schedule meetings with our prospective clients. We both have the information for the contacts we need, and our company has given us a script to use when calling them. The date on that document is more than a decade old, but both of us use it anyway when we ask for a meeting. And every contact refuses to add us to their calendar.
As we are calling through our lists, we wonder why we keep hearing the same objections. You, being a smart and resourceful person, suggest we list the objections we encounter to see if we can crack the code for scheduling a meeting. We write out this list to wrangle the time objections we are facing:
- Can you send me information?
- Can you call me back next quarter?
- We are happy with our existing supplier.
- We are not interested.
- Now is not a good time.
- We are too busy now.
As we look at the list, you wonder out loud, "How does every contact know to say the same few phrases?" Frustrated, you look at the list of time objections to see if they have anything in common. After a few minutes, you realize that each time objection is the client’s way to avoid agreeing to a meeting. With the first mystery solved, we turn our attention to the second mystery: Why does every contact refuse our meeting requests?
We agree there must be something about these meetings that cause people to refuse. You comment that many of our friends in sales can schedule meetings, and that some are generating large commissions. Somehow, they can command their contacts’ time.
And then, we have our collective a-ha moment: It must be something we say that causes a time objection. But what is it we are saying that makes our contacts want to avoid giving us their time? As we look at the script we’ve been using, we see the first line is “My name is [NAME] with [COMPANY NAME]. I am calling you today to ask you for a meeting to share some information about my company and how we are helping companies just like yours, and to learn a little about you and your business. What works better, Wednesday at 11:00 AM or Thursday at 2:00 PM?”
You being the smarter of the two us, say, "What if all of these time objections are really just different ways of saying the same thing? It must be something in that script that causes people to avoid the conversation. We need to say something that entices the contact to agree to a meeting."
The Single Time Objection
There is only one time objection, and it is expressed using different phrases. These phrases are continually used by contacts because they work. The reason they work so well is because salespeople believe they need to overcome the objection. In doing so, they often seem argumentative.
- The salesperson that responds to the time objection, "Can you send me information?" by asking the client what information they want to see is tone deaf, unable to hear what was actually communicated.
- The contact that asks if a salesperson can "Call me back next quarter" finds the salesperson asking, "What will be different in the next quarter?" This reply is not only tone deaf, but also argumentative.
- The contact that professes they are "Happy with their existing supplier" will not agree to a meeting because the salesperson asks what they like about their existing supplier.
The secret to acquiring a meeting is recognizing two things:
- The single reason a contact refuses to schedule a meeting is because they believe it is a waste of their time.
- The best way to address time objections is to offer a value proposition the contact believes is worth their time.
I ask you, "Exactly what is the value proposition of the meeting?" You look over the script and blurt out, "I've got it! The value proposition of the meeting is to tell the client about our company and how we can help them." I am reminded of a conversation with a friend in sales who asks the question, "What's in it for them?" I ask, "What’s in it for them?"
You wonder out loud, "What if we made a different offer, one that was attractive to the contact? Could we use our quarterly learnings and insights and share them with the contact?" I ask, "Would that be valuable for them?" With nothing to lose, we make our calls to offer a quarterly briefing.
It's Not the Time. It's the Value.
The time objections you hear have nothing to do with time. Instead, they have everything to do with the value you promise to deliver in that time. This is the same as a friend calling you to help them move versus calling you to invite you to your favorite sports team's championship. You are likely to reject your friend's ask for help moving and accept the invitation to the championship game.
Avoiding time objections and booking more sales meetings means improving the meeting's value proposition. It also requires you to confidently ask for the meeting, projecting your belief that the meeting will be valuable for your contact.
You can forget all about the time objections. You can also ditch the scripts that suggest you can and should overcome the client's time objection. Instead, you must resolve the client's real concern about wasting their time, a resource they never have enough of. To do that, you promise to create value in the first meeting. Without a valuable first meeting, you will not acquire a second meeting.
You say, "The reason these contacts object to a meeting is because the salespeople they have met with in the past wasted their time. This is what they are avoiding." And once you have figured that out, you can make the changes you need to improve your cold-calling results.