Overcoming the Objection "We Have a Vendors List"
IT Staffing sales professionals commonly run into this objection when calling on new prospects. As soon as the buyer realizes the nature of the phone call he or she says something along the lines of, "We have an approved vendors list. We're all set." What is the best way to reply to this objection? The first thing sales people need to understand is that this objection first and foremost is designed to end the conversation. It's a conversation stopper! The prospect just wants to get you off the off phone. So you're going to have hang in there and keep the prospect engaged. More on this in a minute.
In order to properly handle this objection you will need to do the following:
- Decipher whether or not the prospect truly does have a vendor's list with a formal selection and approval process or if they are just blowing you off.
- If you determine they really, truly do have a vendor's list you will need to uncover the process for how the current vendors got on the list and who the specific decision makers are. It is likely the person giving you this objection is NOT the decision maker.
- Uncover a point of dissatisfaction (pain point) with their current vendors that you can solve that would compel the prospect to add you to the vendors list.
Blow off or Legitimate Vendors List?
What I have found over the years is that most companies do not have a formal vendor's list but rather a group of vendors they have grown accustomed to working with. There is not a formal vetting process for vendor selection and review, just gatekeepers who like to make sales people believe they have a formal vendors list and approval process. The reality is (in most cases) only the really large enterprise accounts, typically those with an MSP or VMS program have a formal vetting process. In order to decipher whether or not they're just blowing you off you might say:
"I figured a company of your stature and reputation might have an approved vendors list. The purpose of my goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the process for how your current vendors got on that list. What are the specific steps and approvals that take place in order to add a vendor?" These questions often catch the prospect off guard because most sales reps just take the objection at face value and move on by letting the call just end. What we are doing by asking these questions is we are asking the prospect to lay out their approval and decision making process to add a new vendor. We're calling them out on their objection and making them explain it. I think you will find that most prospects will struggle to come up with a valid answer because the reality is there is no formal process. Listen to their response closely including their tone to determine if they are just trying to blow you off. They may likely counter with a reply like "send me your information." This is practically the same objection as "we have a vendors list." It is designed to end the conversation and get you off the phone but you can follow up by asking:
- What information would you like me to send?
- Who reviews the information?
- What happens after you review the information?
- Are you genuinely interested in learning more about my company or this is a polite blow off (the delivery of this message is key so make sure you practice it). You can learn more about this rebuttal and others in my objection rebuttal book.
Again, when you ask these questions I think you will find that the prospect will likely not have a compelling or valid response. But let's assume the prospect does have a formal process for getting on the vendors list. If that is the case then you need to figure out the following:
- What are all of the specific steps the customer must complete in order to add you to the vendors list?
- Who are all of the decision makers?
- How do you get access to those decision makers?
Once you figure that out your next is to compel the prospect to want to complete those steps and add you to the vendors list. This is uncovering your buyers journey or part of their buying journey anyway. So how do you compel the prospect to add you to their vendor list?
Uncovering a Point of Dissatisfaction or a Pain Point with the Current Vendors List
In order to compel your prospect to approve you and your firm and add you to their vendors list you are going to need to uncover a pain point with their current vendors that you can solve. You might consider saying something like this:
"Mr. customer, this probably is not the case with you (reverse psychology...of course this is the case with them) but many of our customers who also have a vendors list share with us that they get 80% of the results from just 20% of their vendors. What are you seeing?" "How are you dealing with your under performing vendors?"
The 80/20 rule applies to just about all things and any honest customer will tell you that they do get most of their results from just the top 20% of their vendors just like your IT staffing firm probably gets 20% of it's revenue from the top 20% of it's producers. This question is an effective means for getting the prospect to admit that some of their vendors are under performing. Getting the prospect to admit this gives you a conversation path for turning that point of dissatisfaction into a sales opportunity.
Let's assume however that the customer replies by ranting and raving about how great their vendors are. What do you do then? After the prospect finishes ranting and raving about how great their vendors are REMAIN SILENT. Do NOT be the first person to speak. Why? Typically after a customer praises their vendor on how wonderful they are they will make a follow up comment that is less than glowing or negative in nature to balance out what they just said. But you have to remain silent. If you speak right after they just told you how much they love their vendors you will be robbing them of the opportunity to make the negative follow up comment.
One last tip or question that you can ask is this. You might say "Ms. Customer, what is it about your current vendors that has you so pleased with their performance and the results they're producing for you?" Or "on a scale of 1-10, how content are you with the results your vendors are producing for you?" Notice neither of these questions are "what do you like about your vendors" but instead they asks about vendor performance and results. These questions are much different and produce different results.
What are you doing to overcome the objection "we have a vendors list?" What do you think of the ideas I shared in this blog? Let's start a conversation in the comments section below.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.