Cold calling: How to respond to "I don't have time"?
by Steli Efti
When Donald Trump says he has “no time” for political correctness, what he really means is that he’s chosen not to make it a priority.
It’s the same way with your customers. Unless you happen to cold call someone whose office has just caught on fire, it’s pretty likely that “I don’t have time” is just a polite way of saying “Go away,” or “What you’re offering is not a priority for me.” After all, if they really didn’t have time, they would have just hung up on you.
And yet, your average salesperson still hears “I don’t have time,” stammers, gets nervous, and hangs up. It’s a difficult objection to deal with—we’re not used to responding proactively to “I don’t have time.” You can’t really argue with it, because who are you to question whether someone really has time?
A great salesperson, however, finesses this objection around into further conversation. A great salesperson hears “I don’t have time” and recognizes that it’s time to drive home the core value proposition that will get that customer to stay on the line.
Think about it this way. If your potential customer was convinced, deep down, that they could make $8 for every $1 they spent with you, would they still tell you they don’t have time? No! They’d rush to keep you on the phone, and spend as much money with you as they possibly could.
"The main thing when you are engaged with a client, dream client, or prospect is to create value during every interaction. The more value you create, the more valuable you are to your client. The greater the perception of value, the greater the likelihood you gain a commitment that moves you forward together."—Anthony Iannarino
Your #1 job when someone tells you they don’t have time is to demonstrate all the value and upside you can bring them, proving that you are worth their time.
You need to work around this objection by showing the value at every turn, whether this objection pops up early in the sales cycle, or later and more insidiously, toward the end of the process.
Early stage objection
No one likes getting cold called, and the “I don’t have time” objection is often a polite way of shooing you away early in a call. But this knee-jerk reaction is your chance as a salesperson to differentiate yourself and your product from the swarm of telemarketers out there selling candy and cable upgrades.
At this stage, you need to acknowledge the value of your customer’s time, and show them why they should give it to you. Emphasize with their position, but make sure you grab their attention and hook them on value.
Sales rep: “Hey, I get that, maybe it’s not worth your time! The last seven people in your field who I talked to said that as well. And they were all wrong. Just give me three minutes to see if you’re right—let’s confirm that talking to me is not a wise investment of your time.”
Be polite, charming, and decisive. Give them compelling proof for why they should stay on the line, and why they’d be missing out if they hung up. Most customers will be willing to give you a few more minutes—which is all you need to start establishing value.
Pitch to priorities
Use this time to show how your product or service can help them meet their goals today. Pitch to their priorities by asking questions.
Ask questions that will help you understand what your customer's needs are, while demonstrating your expertise and authority in the field:
What is your number one priority at this point? Because if you’re like the other customers I talk to in the field, your number one goal for next quarter is ______.
Is this something that matches your priorities or are you thinking something totally different?
If not, what a