I got a call a couple of weeks ago from an experienced sales rep with this question. It’s one I’m sure everyone has bumped into in the past and hopefully, after reading this post, you'll be able to handle it much better in the future!
I can imagine this would really “take the wind out of your sails.” You’ve got a great product that should be a good opportunity for this account, and you basically get “shot down before take-off.” Talk about a buzz killer!
This situation could certainly be embarrassing, and underscores the importance of having a good selling strategy. We have discussed in the past and will continue to discuss the importance of trying to get your prospect to take the lead and identify a current situation, problem or “motive” that might get them to make some type of change in what they’re currently using/buying. Getting this objection would suggest that strategy was clearly not followed.
Looking for the “magic silver bullet,” the sales rep sent me an email asking how I would have handled this and what recommendations I would have for turning the situation into a sale. I suggested, “Apparently you've confused me with Moses!” Maybe he could part the Red Sea, unfortunately I can’t.
Consider for a minute your prospect’s situation. They just changed to a new vendor; went through the time, effort and trouble to make the switch, and believe they’ve made a good decision. Do you really think you have a snowball’s chance in hell to get them to change again? I don’t think so!
Now certainly you might respond with:
“Thanks for telling me. I’m sure you’re probably happy with the
product that you’ve switched to.”
Assuming that they are happy with the change they’ve made, using an assumptive statement keeps you from criticizing their decision. However, if for some reason they’re not, this would be a non-threatening way to get them to identify that.
Interestingly, this would be a perfect opportunity to gain some intelligence on what is important to this account. Maybe the best question to ask at this point would be:
“I’m curious. What was it about the product that you were using
that you didn’t like, and what got you to make this change?”
This would be a perfect opportunity to gain additional insight into what your customer is looking for. Was it a problem with product performance? Was it a problem with vendor performance? Was it driven by the need for lower pricing to reduce cost? Did they make a change to try to get better patient outcomes?
All of these are potential reasons that you want to uncover which could drive you to discussions on other products. Their desire to achieve any of the goals in the questions above is a clear “motive” and reason for change.
Some sales you win… some sales you lose, and some sales you’ve lost before you even start! I think this situation is one of the latter, but with some patience and a good set of questions, you can “turn lemons into lemonade” and get information that will allow you to be more successful with this customer.
Something else we need to consider is why were we not aware of this opportunity in the first place? Here again, you can’t get them all, but are you asking your clients about their regularly-scheduled product reviews? Again, good preemptive account intelligence will limit this objection.
I always appreciate questions from the field, and will provide strategies and tactics that may not get back what you lost, but put you in a better position to win the next round!