If you are like most sales professionals in the staffing industry you’re probably sick and tired and frustrated with hearing your prospects and customers tell you “we’re not hiring and we have no budget.” How does one overcome such an objection? Better yet, how does one even engage in a meaningful conversation when you know your prospect or customer is operating under those circumstances?
Here is an idea that has worked for me and hundreds of others for handling the toughest objection of them all; "were not hiring and we have no budget."
As we all know, the employment market is currently very challenging and many or most organizations do not have budget to hire consultants. But rather than hoping our prospect or client doesn’t bring up the “no budget, we're not hiring” objection, salespeople should do the opposite. Salespeople need to bring it up. Yes, you read that correctly. We as salespeople need to bring up that objection and address it head-on. If we don’t address it head on and wait for our prospect or customer to bring it up (which we know they will), then we’re stuck in objection handling mode. And coming up with a rebuttal for this objection is much more difficult and challenging to overcome than if we bring up the objection and frame it on our terms. Here is an abbreviated sample conversation:
Sales Rep: (Immediately following introductions/pleasantries) “John, can I assume you’re business circumstances are similar to most of my other customers in that you’re not hiring and don’t have budget to hire any additional help now or in the near future?
Customer: “Yes Dan that is the case. I wish I could but the funding is locked down.We are currently not spending. Try me back in 6 months.”
Sales Rep: Show empathy for his current situation “Thanks for sharing that with me John, I can appreciate where you and your organization are coming from. We all budgets and have to keep a tight eye on them to effectively run the business.”
Sales Rep: “John, now that we understand that you have no budget and that you have clearly set my expectations regarding your lack of funding, would it be to change gears for a minute and talk about status of your existing projects and due dates associated with them?”
Customer: “Uh, ok Dan, what specifically would you like to discuss?”
From here we steer the conversation to learn more about the specific details of their projects and more specifically the challenges and issues the customer currently faces with those projects. Just because the customer has no budget doesn't mean they don't have challenges or "admitted pain" associated with those projects. Now it becomes the salesperson's job to convince the customer that the challenges they need to resolve (on their projects) justify getting funding approved to meet the project goals and deadlines.
By leading with the objection we take away the prospect’s excuse for not talking with us. Now that we have eliminated their objection from their “bag of objections,” we are able to move forward with the conversation and discuss their projects and challenges. Now you may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to talk with a manager who has no budget and can’t hire?” Because in a down economy you have to actually sell and create job orders vs. receive pre-defined, budget approved job orders. By selling I mean creating sales opportunities where no pre-defined, budget approved job order exists. More specifically you have to identify the customer’s pain points or critical business issues and then convert that into a job order. And right now, in this tough economy, your prospects and customers have a ton of “pain.” The only difference between a down economy and a good economy is that in a good economy your customers would already have budget approved to hire consultants. In a down economy we have to remind our prospects and customers just how big their challenges are and the impact those challenges have on their organization if left unattended. In a good economy your customers have these very same issues and challenges but you never know about them because you never have to ask. They just give you a job order.
If you’re not familiar with this style of selling (it’s the only way to sell in this market) you should try reading my industry white paper Effective Sales Strategies For Selling IT Staffing During A Recession