Sales objection: "It's not a priority right now"

by Steli Efti

You've had a great sales conversation with a prospect, pitched your product, asked for the close—and your prospective buyer tells you: "This sounds all really good, but it's just not a priority for us right now."

How do you respond to that? What can you do to make a sale happen?

There are two ways of handling the "this just isn't a priority right now" objection. Which of the two you should choose depends on why the prospect tells you it's not a priority.

Reason #1: Your pitch doesn't push their buttons

Did you properly qualify your prospects? Do you really understand their needs, challenges and priorities? 

If not, you need to ask more questions until you have a clear picture of what matters to them.

Then you can customize your sales pitch to match their priorities.

If you're going to use a generic, one-size fits all value proposition, you're going to miss out on a lot of opportunities. One of the reasons why salespeople can create more revenue is precisely because they can personalize the sales approach for each prospect.

onesizefitsall

The same product/service can be presented in different ways, to match different needs.

Example: Saving costs vs. increasing revenue

Let's say your solution helps businesses to reduce their accounting costs, and for a particular prospect you estimate it could save them $20,000. After qualifying your prospect, you learn all they care about is increasing revenue though. 

What do you do? Just pitch them on saving $20k on accounting? Hope that they'll bite, because, well, a dollar saved is a dollar earned?

Nope.

You get creative and present your solution as a way to increase revenue. This will require further questioning. And you make it about identifying opportunities where $20k can be put to use to increase revenues.

Don't expect the prospect to connect the dots—it's your job as a salesperson to find ways to create value for them. Sales isn't just about peddling your goods - it's about consulting them to better achieve their goals.

Reason #2: They're avoiding the real issue

You have qualified them and they told you about their priorities. You adjusted your pitch to match these priorities. But when you ask for the close, they tell you: "This sounds all good, but it's just not really a priority now."

What's going on? Maybe you misunderstood them, maybe they just bullshitted you about their priorities.

There's some kind of disconnect, but what do you do about it?

How do you get to the real issue?

You just ask them: "You know what? I'm struggling with this, and I need your help. How come it's not a priority, since you mentioned that increasing revenue in the next quarter or two is really the number one goal that you guys have in mind? And I think I've demonstrated that our product could help you accomplish that in a pretty powerful way. Where is the disconnect? What am I missing? Why isn't this a priority at this point?"

Don't be confrontational about it. Just be upfront and honest, and ask them to resolve this mismatch in a way that allows them to save face.

whitelies

Oftentimes they just told you a little white lie because they were polite, or they were felt uncomfortable bringing up the real issue. At this point, many inexperienced salespeople make it about who is right and who is wrong.

Yes, you can start to argue with them and prove them wrong, point out their fallacies. But do you want to close the deal or do you want to be right?

Most of the time if you probe, the prospect will then tell you about the real objection, for example:

  • "You know, it actually is a high priority right now, but the thing is, we've tried this many times with other startups, and one issue we had is the technology looks really cool, but it's usually not mature, and then it takes way longer to implement than we thought, so, I really don't want to get into these problems." → It's really about a lack of trust!
  • "You know what, the disconnect is that I don't really think you're going to move the needle on the revenue side. Yes, this could bring like a 2% improvement, but we're looking for 30% growth! And we already plan to do X, Y and Z to increase our revenue. This is really a small distraction, its not going to make a big enough difference." → It's about your value proposition.

NOW you have something you can work with. Here's a real objection you can manage to move the sale forward!

In sales, an inconvenient truth is always better than a convenient lie

Because it's something you can use to move the deal forward (or determine this just isn't a fit and stop wasting your time on a bad prospect).

If they still give you "not a priority BS", become more confrontational.

Challenge them

Ask them: "What would need to happen to make this a priority? If you're three quarters into the year and you're not on track to meet revenue goals, and you don't have more budget to spend? If you fail to grow revenues and your company needs to let people go in order to be able to afford more for marketing—will it then be a priority?"

You'll want to get a good sense for who you're dealing with before you take the gloves off, but sometimes that's what it takes.

The thing is, "not really a priority" should never be the reason why they resist your pitch if you've properly qualified them and identified them as a good fit.

"It's not really a priority" should never be the final argument in a sales conversation.

There's always a next step—it might ultimately lead to figuring out that they're actually not a good fit, but oftentimes you'll see that there's an undiscovered opportunity to create a win-win.

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