What to say when your prospect says, "I'm not interested"

by Vrs
21 replies
Have you ever been stumped and not known what to say when your propsect says, "I'm not interested?" Earlier in my sales career that one used to pull the rug out from under me. What helped was when I realized that it wasn't my product or service they weren't interested in. The truth is they didn't even know what they were turning down. It was a 'knee jerk' reaction which can be translated, "I'm not interested in someone trying to sell me something I don't want".

A good way to respond to that is with a question. A phrase I love in this case is, "If you don't mind me asking ..."

For example. Let's say I'm approaching a business with videos designed to promote their business to new customers. What I like to do is frame my question in a way that can potentially identify a need.

Here's how that might unfold. He says, "I'm not interested" So I might say, "If you don't mind me asking, are you in the middle of any kind of marketing campaign right now, for example - are you doing anything online?"

9 times out of 10 he's not going to answer this question with another "I'm not interested". Instead, you're going to be able to start a conversation about what he's currently doing. Because typically he'll tell you what he's doing, how it's working, how he feels about marketing, etc. Now we're getting somewhere! because this is all valuable information for helping me know what to present and how to lead the conversation the direction I want it to go.

Follow up questions to the above could be: If they ARE in a campaign;

"Really? How's that working out so far? Are you happy with the return you're getting?" (Hint: usually they're not) "Have you ever tried any kind of video marketing before?" [Now we're talking! That last question is the beginning of the conversation I wanted to have in the first place!]

Of course you're not just peppering him with questions. The example I just gave assumes there's been interaction between questions.

If he says he's not in a campaign at the moment I might ask,

"Really? Just curious - besides word of mouth what's been the most reliable form of advertising for you in the past?"

Next question - "Have you ever tried any kind of video marketing?" (Bingo!)

"The reason I asked is because in 2014 people will pay more attention to video than any other form of advertising because ... etc., etc., etc" and away you go with your reasoning, facts, examples, etc.!

"What that means to you is ...." now it's time to talk BENEFITS!

Notice what's happening? Now you're in a presentation and you've neutralized the "Not interested" objection!

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What are some of the ways other warriors selling to offliners answer the "Not Interested" objection?
#im not interested #prospect
  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    Instead of "Are you happy with the return you're getting?" leading right into right into "have you ever tried any kind of video marketing before?" I'd probably ask more leading questions first, like "so, when returns aren't up to expectations what do you do? (prospect: blah blah blah) Uh huh, I see... so what do you think needs to change? (prospect: blah blah blah) Really? OK, OK, then what would you need to do to make that happen? (prospect: blah blah blah) I see... in that case, if there were some kind of way of doing that for you, would that work better? - - and then get into what I can offer because I just steered the guy right into my solution.
    Signature
    "Best book on answering objections I have seen... it's for photographers but it has brilliant techniques you can use in any business." - Claude Whitacre. When They Say That, You Say This (Amazon Kindle)
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    • Profile picture of the author Vrs
      A lot of what you detailed is assumed in my "interaction back and forth" comment. That interaction can take it in all kinds of directions. Wasn't trying to give a completely exhaustive response. Mainly just a way to get away from "not interested" to something more tangible. You do make some good points though.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        It depends on when I hear it. If it's the first thing out of their mouth, I just walk away.

        But if it's toward the end of my presentation...I just walk away.

        If someone says "I'm not interested" You have t get over the hurtle that they should listen to you. My entire sales life was devoted to being easy to get rid of;

        If I ever heard;
        "No, thank you"
        "I'm not interested"
        "I don't want it"


        Or any other statement that indicates.."No". I just stop. There are sooo many people that will make selling much easier. If it's the first thing I hear, I've invested no time in them at all.

        The only exception is if I have no other place to go that day, or it's my last call....

        Then I may play with them. "I know you aren't interested. If you were, you would have called me. May I ask one question before I go?" And then I would ask a question that would qualify them in or out. Oh, and I'd keep asking questions (ignoring the fact that I said 'one question'), until they got aggravated or involved.

        If you are talking about selling over the phone? I'd just call the next number.
        One way to guarantee your failure, and thoughts of suicide...is trying to sell everyone you talk to.


        By the way, if you sell in person, and you are getting more than 10% say "I'm not interested"...you are somehow causing that response. If they are giving you a BS excuse as to why they can't talk to you...that's what you want. Why? Because they see you as an equal, and that's what they say to equals. But an immediate "I'm not interested"? You are making a bad first impression.

        If this is over the phone, that's different. I tell every caller that I'm not interested. Why? Because I get 20 a day.
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        • Profile picture of the author Vrs
          I'm pretty easy to get rid of too if the tone is more like haggling than just a non-thinking "I'm not interested". I can't count the number of sales I've made after that first initial response followed by my question "If you don't mind me asking ..." Similar to a "No Soliciting" sign. Probably 90-95% of the sales I've made the retailer had a "No Soliciting" sign on the door.

          I also agree that trying to sell everyone you talk to is a complete waste of time energy (and serenity). My initial contact is to determine if I have a qualified prospect. If not - gone. I've extricated myself out of selling situations where they would've been happy to extend the visit but it wouldn't have mattered anyway once I know it's an unqualified prospect.
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        • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          If someone says "I'm not interested" You have t get over the hurtle that they should listen to you. My entire sales life was devoted to being easy to get rid of;

          If I ever heard;
          "No, thank you"
          "I'm not interested"
          "I don't want it"


          Or any other statement that indicates.."No". I just stop. There are sooo many people that will make selling much easier. If it's the first thing I hear, I've invested no time in them at all.
          I agree completely and approach it the same way. However, there's times that the person on the other end has a certain personality that I like and will push a little further. I would say half of those people turn into a decent lead. For the most part though, if they say one of those things, they aren't worth the time.

          You want to hear someone overcome "I'm not interested" objections, have a d&b rep give you a call. So annoying.
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  • Profile picture of the author LABEShops
    I never bother listening to any sales pitch - just say "Not interested, bye" and hang up. Personally, I would never do business with someone who does cold calling. If I am looking for a particular service, I will call or email them for info. And yes, I know sales people hate people like me but I have better things to do than sit on the phone listening to someone rattle on about something I've never heard of and am not interested in. The most annoying part is that since I have multiple websites and this type of sales person doesn't bother looking to see what that company name is rather than the website name, I sometimes get these calls over and over for each of my 30 sites.
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    Owner of LABEShops.com & 20+ Niche Online Stores as well as Scifispace.com and other sites. Recommended Host: Evolve

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    • Profile picture of the author Vrs
      Understood. Fortunately this is still America, a land of capitalism, free enterprise, etc. You're also in sales, even if you don't cold call.

      I agree some sales calls are annoying and I don't hang around long when I'm called by one of those either. But when you're talking to a professional you're not made to feel you're being "pitched". A professional, as it's already been stated elsewhere in this thread, doesn't try to sell everyone that breathes. Instead they "qualify" their prospects to make sure there's an interest and there's a good match for what they are selling. A true professional, once they find out they're not speaking to a qualified prospect, is just as willing to say "goodbye" and get off the phone as you are.

      But it's a free country and you're free to hang up, get annoyed or whatever. Fortunately in America we still have the freedom to approach people to get introduced and to see if what we have may be a good match for our prospect.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Vrs View Post

        I agree some sales calls are annoying and I don't hang around long when I'm called by one of those either. But when you're talking to a professional you're not made to feel you're being "pitched".

        Cold calling is always an interruption. That being said, out of the 20 or so cold calls I get a day ...none of them are skilled. Once every few months, I'll get someone cold calling me that knows what they are doing.

        Do I buy from them? Not usually. But I'll listen. Why? Because we are all selling something. and a great cold call is captivating...because it's so rare.

        And the people that say that they would never buy from a cold call? That's almost never true. I just hang up on almost all cold callers. But, if you catch me in the right mood, say the right words, and sound like a business person......I may buy.

        Cold calling to business owners? You are showing ambition.....belief in your offer......a work ethic. And it takes nerve. These are things business people respect.

        I may have told this story before.

        I was calling a car dealer cold. He said he didn't talk to cold callers. So I asked him "Do you have salespeople?". He did, of course. "When they are not talking to buyers, or calling referrals, what do you want them doing?". He said "On the phone cold calling".

        I said "Smart answer. 3 PM OK with you?". It was.

        Cold calling is not for everyone. Of course, neither is success in business.
        Nearly every successful business owner I've every talked to, sold something...door to door...or over the phone...at one point.

        Cold calling is the trial by fire you get through.....on your way to business success.
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        • Profile picture of the author Vrs
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          I was calling a car dealer cold. He said he didn't talk to cold callers. So I asked him "Do you have salespeople?". He did, of course. "When they are not talking to buyers, or calling referrals, what do you want them doing?". He said "On the phone cold calling".

          I said "Smart answer. 3 PM OK with you?". It was.
          Thanks. Love it.
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      • Profile picture of the author pxitvcrnwgkd
        Originally Posted by Vrs View Post

        Understood. Fortunately this is still America, a land of capitalism, free enterprise, etc. You're also in sales, even if you don't cold call.

        I agree some sales calls are annoying and I don't hang around long when I'm called by one of those either. But when you're talking to a professional you're not made to feel you're being "pitched". A professional, as it's already been stated elsewhere in this thread, doesn't try to sell everyone that breathes. Instead they "qualify" their prospects to make sure there's an interest and there's a good match for what they are selling. A true professional, once they find out they're not speaking to a qualified prospect, is just as willing to say "goodbye" and get off the phone as you are.

        But it's a free country and you're free to hang up, get annoyed or whatever. Fortunately in America we still have the freedom to approach people to get introduced and to see if what we have may be a good match for our prospect.
        Except, by email. I hate how I can't hand write an email to someone without them freaking out and calling it spam - even when I reply to their response!
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    First you must know what they aren't interested IN.

    Ask them.
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    In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Raised on Frank Bettger and Elmer Leterman and Elmer Wheeler. I've had a lot of success with the old school....but,

    New school, fresher approach: Too many fish in the sea, not enough time in the day.

    The older I get, the fresher I become. It is now, take it or leave it, shoulder shrug.

    gjabiz

    PS. However, I have paid my dues with shoe leather and face to face sparring.
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    • Profile picture of the author mak25
      Originally Posted by gjabiz View Post

      New school, fresher approach: Too many fish in the sea, not enough time in the day.

      The older I get, the fresher I become. It is now, take it or leave it, shoulder shrug.
      Gordon, I can relate to that. That mindset is how I prospect. Thanks for that.

      Mike
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      • anybody thought of being the party

        "not interested" 1st?

        objection prevention not handling???

        just wondering...
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by kirbymarketingconcierge View Post

          anybody thought of being the party

          "not interested" 1st?

          objection prevention not handling???

          just wondering...
          Of course, that's what advanced selling is all about., changing the dynamic from "Please buy from me" to "I'll have to see if this is a good fit, before I can take you on as a new client".

          Even in my evil door to door vacuum cleaner sales days, my prospecting sequence was;

          1) See if they are open to talking to me (the only part where they are deciding)
          2) Deciding if the qualify enough for me to want to do a presentation.
          3) Deciding if their first reactions warrant staying.
          3) Decide if they are further qualified, for me to continue..
          4) Decide how long I want to spend closing
          5) Deciding if I want referrals from them.

          At every point, I was deciding...once they let me in the door. And, during the entire process..some part of it was my deciding if this was a probable sale or not. It was only near the end, that I just concentrated on selling them.

          But, I made it very easy to say no to me, until I decided that I was going for a sale.

          And even my approach, before any part of the presentation emphasized that;
          1) Most people that see my product ...buy.
          2) Not everyone is accepted, if they decide to finance it. (This is when it wasn't as common to have a $10,000 credit card limit)

          Something I used to say that just came to me;

          If they had a dog (this was used for just about any condition they had, that applied to carpet or vacuums)

          "You have a dog? You know, I wan't absolutely sure this was going to be a good fit for you...until I just now found out that you have a dog that sheds. Now, I'm kind of excited about what this is going to do your you"

          The part of that statement that is important, is that they heard me say that ...possibly, I wouldn't have recommended my vacuum for them. And also, their specific situation, fits my offer....

          It also hinted, that my opinion is the one that really matters here. Although, I don't say that outright.
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        • Profile picture of the author Vrs
          Objection prevention is a good goal in a salespersons preparation, but in the real world they're still going to happen. They can be reduced through preparation, yes, but they will still be there.

          What true salesperson hasn't had a prospect intitally say "I'm not interested" and then ended up having a good long term relationship with the prospect ( now a customer) because they made the effort to find out why the prospect isn't interested?

          Someone can say "I'm not interested" because they just got some bad news, they found out their teenager just got in trouble, they're in a dispute with a supplier, the last salesperson left a bad taste in their mouth - anything. As a salesperson you don't know. The point is they're saying they're not interested in something you know they have no understanding of yet.

          But if you have a product you believe in and you know it benefits businesses like theirs there's nothing wrong with simply asking a question to see whether or not there's a possibility of getting introduced, agreeing to a better time later, etc. As a salesperson with a product you believe in you at least want to give your prospect a chance to get past a knee jerk "I'm not interested" reaction before they turn down something that could help their business.

          What they're genuinely not interested in is a pushy salesman trying to sell them something they don't need and don't want. I get that. And a professional salesperson doesn't want to sell them what they don't need or want either.

          But if he has a product or service that can help Mr. or Ms. Businessperson reduce costs or increase revenue it doesn't harm anything to ask "If you don't mind me asking ..." to see if there's an opportunity to do business if not now possibly at a future date.

          If there is still a lack of interest after a relevant, thought provoking question then the person is no longer a qualified prospect and you move on. You don't stick around and keep butting heads with them. Sometimes a "I know you're not interested now but would you be open to me sending you something and checking back with you in the future?" is a good outcome because it still leaves the door open for communication.

          I think the key is motive. If a salesperson is selling a product or service they believe in they're trying to help the person they're approaching and, if now isn't a good time they at least want to keep the door open. If that's not ok then there's no longer any such thing as a salesperson - only order takers - and America is in decline because salespeople play a key role in a free enterprise system. (If a salesperson doesn't have a strong belief in their product they shouldn't be selling it. If they do believe in it there's nothing wrong with asking a probing question to get clarification.)

          If they don't believe in what they're selling they're just tyring to take something that belongs to someone else (their money) to benefit themselves only and no one is interested in that.
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            In the book (I think) High Probability Selling, the salesperson would hear "I'm not interested", and she would say "You mean not now? Or not ever?"

            I think that's a darn good question.

            It makes the prospect think, if even for a split second. And it's balsy,, and some people respect that. I do.

            And if they say "Well, just not right now...", that is the beginning of a conversation.
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            • Profile picture of the author adpq
              Because of technology, it's a little bit easier today to overcome objections on marketing if you're talking with a client face to face.

              For example, if you're face to face with a local mechanic and he says that he is not interested, you can pull out your iphone/android and show him the the top 10 results on Google for whatever services he offers like "transmission repair mycity usa."

              Then start reading off the 10 businesses/competitors that show up on the first page of the SERPS and guaranteed he will know all of them and some he will despise.

              You say, "well, regardless of how bad or unethical these businesses may be, they are getting all the local business because 90% of the population today searches Google when searching for a local business or service. It's not enough to just have a website. If you don't have an online presence, then you are missing out on a whole lot of potential clients and these guys are the ones getting their business"

              This is a true statement as I was trained and SEMPO certified by Google a few years back through a big company that they are affiliated with.

              This gets them thinking and they have the visual to see just how bad their online presence is. If they don't start talking to you now, let them chew on it for a few days, then follow up with them.

              And as far as cold calling, my rule was always "Three "No's" before I hang up" and don't ask them yes or no questions. Get them talking.
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  • Profile picture of the author MrFume
    Business people are often independent minded folk, they don't like to think they are ignorant or unaware
    and they will reject an approach just to 'save face' because they are afraid they will be taken for a ride with this new fangled online stuff - or even the arrogant types who think they have it all sorted because they have a Facebook page and they may even have put up a web site of sorts - these are the ones I leave to stew in their own juices because you will never ever convince them - you have to use alternative tactics or put it down to the wrong target market. - they are the ones who will be pushed out of business by their more clear sighted competitors who will capture the traffic shares.
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  • Profile picture of the author HorizonWorks
    (BASED ON EXP)
    Always assume that your prospects initial answer is "No, Not Interested". it is your interpretation that does the damage.

    Some reason why they say "NO"
    - They are not really listening to you
    - They just want you off the phone quickly
    - OR They are just testing you

    Be logical at all times, do a second effort (I don't know how to explain this but, when you develop the feeling that you'll know what is their weak spot so you can convert them) it is like analyzing your prospect (what will they say, how will they say it or how will they react on your offer)..

    Practice peer to peer marketing you'll understand what i'm saying..
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    • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
      Originally Posted by HorizonWorks View Post

      (BASED ON EXP)
      Always assume that your prospects initial answer is "No, Not Interested". it is your interpretation that does the damage.

      Some reason why they say "NO"
      - They are not really listening to you
      - They just want you off the phone quickly
      - OR They are just testing you

      Be logical at all times, do a second effort (I don't know how to explain this but, when you develop the feeling that you'll know what is their weak spot so you can convert them) it is like analyzing your prospect (what will they say, how will they say it or how will they react on your offer)..

      Practice peer to peer marketing you'll understand what i'm saying..
      I think that it's wise to find a polite way if they are not interested right now or ever,
      as Claude wrote earlier (this thread or another).

      I had a sales rep I wanted to talk to - just not on a busy Friday afternoon (I manage a hotel).
      He did not quite know how to handle it when I told him to call back mid-week, next week.
      I had to repeat a couple of times that I did want to talk, just not then.
      Signature

      "If you think you're the smartest person in the room, then you're probably in the wrong room."

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