As a salesperson, nothing is more frustrating than an interested prospect moving slowly through your sales pipeline. In some cases, buyers legitimately have other priorities, but in many cases, they simply have no immediate need to move forward, despite seeing the value proposition in your solution.
So how do you create urgency in sales? Below, we break down 5 essential strategies salespeople can use for creating urgency in sales.
1. Remember Prospect Theory
Pain is the single best way to create urgency in sales. The more pain a prospect feels, the more likely they are to move forward.
Creating urgency in sales examples: let’s say you want to go on a vacation around the world. It’s always been your life dream, yet you’ve been putting it off for years.
Now let’s say you’ve been gifted airplane tickets and are actually about to start your dream adventure. But at the last second, an aggressive squirrel nabs the tickets out of your hands and scurries up a tree. Due to local laws, you are not allowed to fight the squirrel, and you must accept your tickets are gone forever.
In both cases, the result is the same – you aren’t going on your dream vacation.
But the latter hurts a lot more, thanks to something called prospect theory – losing a dollar hurts more than gaining a dollar feels good.
That’s why focusing on a current pain is more likely to drive action. Even if a prospect recognizes a problem, they often drag their feet until they truly feel it. Just like the vacation, losing it is more painful than dreaming about it. Discovering immediate pain is the best way to create urgency in sales.
Here’s a real-world Balto example: we recently purchased a new tool to help us connect with more prospects on a daily basis and increase our lead generation. We recognize that every lead we don’t capture costs us money.
But we always wanted more leads – so why did we wait so long to invest? We waited because we didn’t really feel the pain until the prospect of an empty sales pipeline was right in front of us. We suddenly felt like we were leaving opportunities on the table, so we acted quickly.
A final note: Pain with unassociated dollar amounts is often not enough to inspire prospect action. Dollars make it real. Dollars are a language everyone speaks. So while discovering pain alone might be enough, making sure prospects quantify what the problem is really costing them is similarly important.
2. Don’t Forget About Urgency Questions!
Just like pain questions (which get a lot of attention among salespeople), you can also create urgency in your sales process with urgency questions (which sadly go under-appreciated), and just like digging for pain, salespeople can dig for urgency, too.
Here are a few urgency questions you can use right away:
“Do you set weekly, monthly, or quarterly performance goals? How often do you hit them?”
Purpose: Identify how often the prospect will have to admit this challenge to teammates. The more they have to do it, the more urgently they will try to fix it.
“How might solving this challenge right now impact the other priorities the organization has?”
Purpose: Often, fixing one problem frees up time to work on the next This additive effect increases urgency by associating multiple solutions to a single fix.
“When you don’t hit your goals, what happens?”
Purpose: Nothing creates sales urgency faster than emotions. This question creates urgency by forcing the prospect to think about the times they’ve had to answer for less-than-stellar results.
“How long has that been a challenge for you?”
Purpose: By reminding prospects how much time, money, and effort they’ve already spent on this problem, they feel more urgency to fix the problem.
“What happens if you don’t fix that?”
Purpose: Build urgency in your sales pitch by reminding the prospect that every second this problem remains, the costs continue to grow.
“Why would you want to move forward now rather than later?”
Purpose: A lot of businesses deal with the same problems for years without solving them, so getting a prospect to admit to a problem might not be enough to get them moving forward. Don’t be afraid to ask prospects why now is finally the right time to move forward and then hold them to it.
3. Make it a NOW problem!
Let’s say your car’s registration has expired and you simply haven’t had the time to get it renewed. Do you feel more urgency to get everything renewed when you wake up on a Saturday morning, or do you feel more urgency to get everything renewed once you’ve been pulled over and the police officer is ominously walking up to your window?
The latter, obviously. Why? Because something that might happen isn’t as urgent as something that is currently happening.
In the same way, creating urgency in a sales process relies on discovering something that is currently a problem. Not hypothetical. Not a potential problem down the road. Something current. Something prospects can feel in the moment.
At Balto, for example, we often ask “What are the most common objections you hear on the sales floor?” What does that cost you?” This type of question increases urgency in sales because it forces prospects to consider their current situation. It’s not some distant problem. In most cases, you can actually hear prospect’s voices turn colder when they answer this problem – they can literally feel it. Create sales urgency by making the problem an immediate need.
4. Discover Automatic Reminders
Discovering “automatic reminders” – moments throughout the day where prospects are reminded of the problem at hand – is critical to creating urgency in your sales process.
Let’s say you work at an ice cream shop and one day run out of chocolate ice cream. The horror! Throughout the day, multiple customers visit your shop seeking delicious chocolate ice cream only to walk away empty-handed.
Similarly, let’s say you manage a call center, and every time you walk up and down the floor, you hear your customer service agents talking too fast, failing to empathize with frustrated callers, and providing bad answers to customer questions.
In both of these cases, you are frequently reminded about the challenges you have and the money being lost as a result. You feel it nonstop throughout the day.
In the former case, you’d buy chocolate ice cream from your supplier as urgently as you could. In the latter, you’d invest in a call center coaching solution as urgently as you could. All thanks to automatic reminders.
As a salesperson, find a reminder that prospect will constantly notice until the challenge is finally solved, even with small problems.
Ask the prospect – what does the challenge make you feel? Then, identify times throughout the day when they experience it. From then on out, they will think of you and your solution every time they notice the problem. Now that’s how to create urgency in sales!
5. Your Urgency Doesn’t Matter
Nothing rubs people the wrong way more than a pushy salesperson urgently trying to close a deal. The salesperson’s deadline doesn’t matter – their timeline has nothing to do with the buyer’s timeline.
Salespeople should be cautious about overthinking their own sales goals at the expense of their prospect’s timeline. You are the salesperson. Of course you want the deal done sooner rather than later.
Salespeople should try and avoid phrases like “I’d really appreciate if you sign today”. Even if the salesperson is subtle, prospects can feel when the salesperson is working off an internal timeline.
At Balto, we don’t tell our salespeople to get pushy at the end of the quarter. A deal that comes in a few days won’t change much in the scheme of things. What matters is that they were considerate of their buyer’s goals.