As an IT staffing sales professional, nothing (not much anyway) makes us cringe more than hearing the words "I’m happy with my current vendor." Let’s face it, it’s not an easy sales objection to overcome. And the first thing to remember in sales is, no pain, no sale. In other words, if the customer has no dissatisfaction with their current situation and/or supplier(s) then they have no compelling reason to make a change and leave the status quo. After all, "why fix it if it’s not broken?"
So, how can salespeople overcome the sales objection, "I'm happy with my current vendor." In this blog post I'm going to share with you how.
The first thing to understand about the sales objection "I'm happy with my current vendor" is that it's NOT an objection. This is simply a reason or attempt by the prospect to get the salesperson off the phone. If I have learned anything in training and coaching thousands of IT staffing sales professionals it's this; customers (IT hiring managers) are not very loyal to their IT staffing firms. They will work with just about anyone just so long as you're not a horrible person, unethical or just a really lousy salesperson. Obviously you have to deliver.
So, the objection of "I'm happy with my current vendor" is a blow off to end the conversation. It is NOT a reason for not doing business together.
When you hear this objection the first thing I suggest you do is acknowledge it. Acknowledging the objection (what the customer said) is really important because it demonstrates to the customer that you (the salesperson) are listening and that you understand what they have just said. Remember, your prospects are testing you to see if you're listening. This is one of those tests. This is also very important because most salespeople don't do this and instead just launch into a rant ("but we do this and that...").
To acknowledge the objection you might say "Thanks for sharing that with me Mr. customer. I assumed a company of your stature and reputation would have a vendor in place. I imagine there are many organizations that want to do business with you and your organization."
After you acknowledge the objection I suggest you follow up with clarifying probing questions. You need to gather more information to identify a conversation path for gaining forward momentum with the prospect. Keep in mind that in this scenario you are NOT going to get the customer to commit to dropping their existing vendors and start working with you exclusively. So you wouldn't say "can I have your next job order?" Instead we have to break it down and it likely will take multiple interactions before we actually get to scheduling a meeting let alone their business. I suggest asking any or all of the following clarifying probing questions:
- "What steps would I have to take to have an opportunity to work with you?"
- "What if hypothetically you wanted to work with me, what steps would you have to take internally to make that happen?"
- "Would you be open to discussing how my firm could be a back up to your current vendor?"
- "I imagine your current vendor was once in the position that I'm currently in. What steps did you and they take in order for them to get into the position they're in today?"
The point of these probing questions is this; you want to find out how and why your customer buys. Once you understand how your customer buys and why they would buy from you, you will know what you need to do next in your sales process. This will drive your selling activities. Not only that, this approach takes the focus away from trying to overcome this blow-off objection of "I'm happy with my current vendor," and puts the focus on understanding how they customer would buy from you.
The objective is not to get the customer to fire the current vendor but simply allow you to compete with the incumbent vendor.
What if I Hear the Objection Repeatedly From the Same Prospect?
Now let's assume that your prospect truly is 100% happy with their current vendor. Let's assume you call them every thirty days and they tell you this over and over, month after month. Let's also assume you understand how they would buy from you and that you also know they have hired several consultants (from your competitor) over the past month but they didn't share any of those opportunities with you. How do you overcome this?
At this stage we need to probe for pain. We need to probe for pain regarding their level of satisfaction with their vendor and with the progress of their project and/or performance of their team or department. Below are a few sample probing questions you can ask.
"What I am trying to determine is if we might be a partner that could compliment or augment your existing vendor(s). I know from being in this business that there is not one vendor that can do everything, and that customers need vendors with specialties, would
you agree? Could we take a minute to discuss how we might support you in areas in which your current vendors don’t specialize in or how we could be backup supplier?”
Here is another approach.
Ask the prospect what they like so much about their current vendor. After they give you a response remain silent and do not talk. Do NOT be the first person to speak. Often times they will share with you something negative about their vendor that they would never share with you if were to ask them directly. By creating the uncomfortable silence they often feel compelled to say something negative about their vendor to balance out all of the positive things they had to say.
Once they share with you something negative about their current vendor you have your opening.