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Cannes Lions Special Section

Seeing a prospect who isn't interested

How do you get to see the customer when he has already got a supplier and is not interested in changing?

There may be a number of reasons why the customer is not looking around. He may be satisfied with what he has. He may see no difference between one supplier and another. He may have a good relationship with his existing supplier. He may not like the sound of your voice on the telephone.

There may be hundreds of different reasons but it is your job to get face to face (as you know it is much easier to sell face to face) and the basic principles still apply. I am going to offer you a number of different solutions some of which will be right for your situation.

  1. When you are using the telephone to make an appointment, please remember you are only selling the appointment. If you give them too much information about the product or service you are giving them too much to object to. There is a very good script that I picked up about 15 years ago that will help you to sell the appointment. It is not my script but I have changed it from the original and I have found it to be very effective.

    “John Smith Please”

    “John Smith Speaking”

    “John, This is (Your Name) from (Your Company). How are you today? (smile).

    “I'm fine, how are you?”

    “I'm fine, Thank you for asking”

    Ice Breaker

      “John, has my name been mentioned to you recently?”

      Or “Has Peter Brown mentioned my name to you recently?”

      Or “We are calling about the letter we sent to you, do you recall it?”

    “Yes” or “No” or “Maybe” or “Don't Know”


    “The reason for the call today, John, as you may be aware, (Your Company) have recently developed an idea on???????? (Good Feature) for people in positions like yourself and I would be happy to drop by and give you the opportunity of seeing it. I am calling today to say that I will be in your area tomorrow around three and wondered, would you be there for about seven minutes?”


    “Fine, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow around three” Hang up.

    This is a very soft approach and there is very little to object to in the script. If you have not tried this script, then I recommend that you give it a go; it is very effective.

  2. When you are faced with a customer who is not interested, this would often be an indifferent objection. The customer considers that he does not have a need to change supplier. With indifferent objections you want to keep the customer talking in order to uncover a need that he might not even know he has. Continue to ask open questions (start with What, Where, Why, How, When Who) to encourage the customer to open up.

    “I have a supplier and I am not really interested”

    “That's interesting, Mr Customer. Who is supplying you at the moment?”

    “XYZ Supplies?”

    “They are a very good company; do they always have the stock available?” (Or use some other item that you know the other company have problems with)

    “Well, now you come to mention it, I have to wait for items sometimes”

    “And what happens to your production line when you experience delays like that?”

    “Yes... There is a problem now you come to mention it?”

    “Would you be happier to use a supplier that doesn't have stock problems?”

  3. You may try another approach as follows:

    “I have a supplier and I am not really interested”

    “That's interesting, Mr Customer. Who is supplying you at the moment?”

    “XYZ Supplies?”

    “They are a very good company. In fact I was with another customer yesterday who is using XYZ Supplies as well as ourselves. He feels it is very useful to have two companies supplying him to compare prices and service.”

  4. Sometimes you struggle to get into a business because your competitor has a good relationship. This is very common and is much harder to break. The only real solution is to develop a relationship yourself by just popping in when you pass. Keep this up for a while and your customer will find it harder to turn you away, now that he knows you better.

  5. If the customer is just not prepared to answer your open questions you might try to grab his attention with a good “Feature”.

    “I am sorry; I have no time to talk to you at the moment. I have a meeting in five minutes and anyway I do not really need anything”

    “That's okay, Mr Customer; I just wanted to tell you about our 25% introductory discount this month?”

    “(Thinks.......) Okay, tell me about your discount, you have 5 minutes!”

About Richard Mulvey

Richard Mulvey ( is the author of 11 motivational and business books and speaks on a wide range of business topics.

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