Whether or not you participate, we all know that Black Friday creates a painful sense of urgency in consumers that those of us in the non-retail world battle with constantly. And while thousands urgently indulge in Cyber Monday, we cringe every time a prospect responds with, "Can you get back to me in a month?"
It's very likely that your prospect forgets your name by the time you reach out a month later. At HubSpot, lacking urgency is the number one objection we face in the sales funnel. It's happened to me on numerous occasions -- which is why I'd like to share one of the approaches we've tested and have statistically proven to succeed for our buyer context.
In my experience, sense of urgency is best addressed right after the goal setting phase of the discovery conversation. Once goals are established, explore why it's critical for the prospect to address the pain now. Understand the negative consequences of inaction and the positive implications of moving now.
Role-Play Exercise for Creating Urgency
I'd like to illustrate our approach with an example roleplay. Let's start off right where we have established a quantifiable goal with the prospect.
Rep: “I see, John. So you're telling me that you're adding three salespeople in Q4 of this year. In order for these salespeople to be successful, you need to increase your marketing qualified leads by 20%. Is this correct?”
Rep: “Excellent John. Thanks for clarifying. We have helped hundreds of companies with that goal. Help me understand one thing though John ... let’s flash forward to six months from now and you're generating the same lead flow as today. Is that really that bad?”
[Probing for negative consequences.]
Prospect: “Actually that would be really bad.”
Prospect: “Well, we'll have to spread the current marketing qualified lead flow across all of our salespeople and nobody will hit their number.”
Rep: “I see. So the sales reps make a little less money. The company still does well.”
[Probing into negative consequences at the company level.]
Prospect: “No. The company loses too. We increase costs but do not increase revenue. Furthermore, sales will get frustrated. Attrition will likely occur. We could lose our best people.”
Rep: “Okay. That is pretty serious. Can’t the salespeople simply cold call to supplement the marketing qualified lead flow?”
Prospect: “We have tried that, both with the salespeople and with junior appointment-setters. It didn't work. We need to find an effective source of demand generation for these new salespeople.”
Rep: “I see, John. On the flip-side, if you are successful in increasing MQL flow by 20%, what happens then?”
[Probing for positive implications.]
Prospect: “Well, in that case, the sales team should hit its numbers and we'll hit our revenue growth targets for next year.”
Rep: “Great John. Thanks for clarifying. This information will help me as I assemble my recommended strategy for you. It almost sounds like we should have kicked this off last month!”
[Normally here I'd explicitly restate everything to ensure we have it right, but you get the point.]
Rep: “Well, let’s get to work. I can assemble the strategy tonight. Can you move things around tomorrow morning so we can review it?”
Prospect: “Let’s do it.”
Explicitly walking the prospect through this dialogue is important. Now we both understand why this project simply cannot wait. I didn't trick him. I didn't put words in his mouth. I truthfully just understood his priorities and how I can help.
If the sense of urgency doesn't exist, then you may need to challenge the prospect on what other initiatives are more important. You may even need to switch over to a provocative sales approach if you think the prospect is focused on the wrong priorities.
While this process helps me invest my time appropriately, more importantly, it helps me avoid wasting my prospect’s time. We all know that “nice-to-have” initiatives never happen. So, why waste my prospect’s time on an initiative that is not critical to them?
Bonus for Sales Coaches: Customized Coaching Plan
If you're a sales manager and you have a salesperson struggling with a sense of urgency development, schedule a weekly meeting to review all the new opportunities created that week. For each opportunity, ask the rep the same three questions:
- Why does the prospect need to buy today?
- What are the negative implications if they don't?
- What are the positive implications if they do?
If you want to be even more disciplined, you can add these custom fields to each opportunity record in your CRM. For example, HubSpot CRM lets you customize properties and take notes within a contact record, all while automatically logging emails and calls.
Or, you could ask the salesperson to email the answers to these questions to you whenever they move an opportunity record forward. Repetitive cadences are your friend.
3 Ways to Rekindle Urgency in Prospects
By incorporating the strategies above into your approach to sales, you should be able to move more deals across the finish line. But it never hurts to have a few more tactics in your arsenal when a prospect hits you with, "Not now," does it?
1. Illustrate your impact
You should have already done this extensively, but if your prospect isn't seeing the urgency of implementing your product/service now, it should be repeated.
Instead of stats and client reviews, tell your prospect a story of success. Make sure it's high impact, riddled with solved pain points, and, of course, true.
Data points will do little to sway your prospect at this point, but a well-told story can do wonders.
2. Help them see what they will miss out on.
Most of us are motivating by avoiding pain and achieving pleasure, so it's helpful to use this when inspiring urgency in your prospects. So, after demonstrating the ROI and impact of your product/service, talk about the cost of doing nothing (i.e., "We're able to lower new hire onboarding time by up to 50%. That turns new hires into high-impact players in as little as two months. Can you afford to miss out on that immediate revenue boost?")
3. Lower the hurdle
Less investment, risk, scope, paperwork, administration, and effort will always make your offer more attractive. Keep deal momentum up and you'll find the urgency is naturally present. To do this, be timely and immediate with your follow up, always present timelines and next steps after meetings, and push deadlines by days instead of weeks.