The Complacent Prospect

“Thanks, but I’m happy with my current supplier”

During most training workshops, we eventually get onto the subject of prospecting and cold calling.  Besides the fear of cold calling, one of the most common struggles I hear from salespeople is all about the “Complacent Prospect”.  By complacent, I mean they are happy with their current supplier and don’t want to make any changes.  It might sound like: “I’m happy where I’m at.  I don’t think I’m going to make any changes.”

These comments from a prospect used to strike fear in my heart.  It always felt like a dead end.

My thought process went something like this.  Maybe you have had these same thoughts:

  • They heard my presentation
  • They must understand the value because I just told them how valuable my products are.
  • They weighed their options, and
  • The don’t want my products
  • Darn it! Now what do I do?
  • I’ll thank them for their time, give them my card, leave a sample, maybe a promo item like a hat, and let them know to call me if ever interested.
  • I’ll check back in a month, six months or next year to see if anything has changed.

Does that sound familiar?  Do most of your prospecting calls turn out this way? At least in the beginning?

Here is a thought process and reaction to this apparent dead end in a sales conversation that might help you

First of all, every consumer is happy where they buy their products…to some extent.  That’s why they are buying from that supplier.  They are making the best decision they can.  In their mind, they are buying from their best option.

Once you understand that concept, you will quit worrying about that terrible moment right after you get done with your sales presentation to a prospect and they say, “Sounds good and all, but I think I’ll stay with what I’m doing.”

Unless you hit the nail right on the head and timed it perfectly, your customer is always happy doing what they are currently doing.  Again, that’s why they are doing it.  If they weren’t, they would change.

Our job as a salesperson, is to create the understanding with prospects that there is a better way.  More importantly, we have to create that understanding without telling them they are currently doing it wrong.

How?  In short, ask better questions.  Here is a logical sequence as an example:

In this scenario, I saw the prospect’s truck near his shop and decided to stop and make a cold call.  After introductions, the producer said he had a few minutes if I wanted to tell him about my products.  So, I did.  I highlighted the current product which we had a great promotional price on.  Then, I asked if he was interested in getting in on the hot prices we were offering!  He told me, “No, not today.  I’m good where I’m at, but thanks for stopping.”

My heart sank as I thought I did a good job of explaining how great my products were.  Plus, we had a great sale price.  FYI, that heart sinking feeling never really goes away.  It’s a negative reaction to our offer and we want a positive response.

Here’s a method that might work for you.  It has worked for me many times.

Me: “Oh sure, I understand.  Have you been with them for quite a while then?”

  • If he answers with yes, then dig into that length of history.
  • If he answers with No – then I will dig into how long and what made him switch from his previous supplier.

Me: “What is it about your current supplier that you like about them so much?  It sounds like they take care of you really well.”

  • He answers.  Take notes as this will be what you need to overcome or compete with.  These answers are either real and you now understand how this producer makes decisions on your product line.  You now understand what they value.  Or, they are not real and are a smoke screen to get rid of you.  Either way, you still need to sell to those reasons because you don’t know at this point.  Summarizing, paraphrasing and closing style questions will help you sort through the reasons they buy from their current supplier.
  • Hear him out.  Keep asking about all the positives.  Keep mentioning how great they must be to work with.  It won’t take long, but eventually, the producer will stop and correct you.  No company is perfect.  He will start telling you some of the bad things about his current supplier.  Now, let them vent on the imperfections of their current supplier.

One of the most important steps at this point is to understand the impact of the good and the bad aspects of their current supplier.  Keep them talking about both good and bad.  The more they tell you about those issues, the better you can help them understand your company, your products and how you can help them.

Your best prospects- future customers- are making the best choice they can make.  Don’t stress or lose hope when they tell you they are happy where they are.  This is the start of a long-term relationship.  It begins with understanding how they make decisions.  How their farm operates and why they do what they do – why they buy from who they buy from.

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