Is There a Sense of Urgency?

Ever wonder why some sales take forever to close or why some prospects delay making the final decision to move forward? Here’s the answer.

People, or companies for that matter, rarely buy anything before they either have to or want to. Picture the following unlikely scenario.

You’re sitting in your living room on a cold winter’s night, reading the newspaper, when the doorbell rings. You answer the door and find a neatly dressed person who says, “Good evening, I’m from Acme Home Services and I’m here to talk to you about your furnace needs.” After your initial sur­prise, you’d probably say, “No thanks. I’m not interested.” Then you’d go back to your reading.

Why the, “No thanks”? Probably because your furnace is working just fine and, while it may be a bit old, you feel no pressing need to replace it in the dead cold of winter. In other words you have no immediate need to buy a furnace now — no sense of urgency.

But let’s assume for a moment that you experienced a heating problem earlier in the day and the technician who responded to the call found you had a “cracker” (a cracked heat ex­changer) and red-tagged your furnace (shut it down until it could be replaced). You’re sitting in your living room, shivering, as the temperature slowly lowers.

Now your response to the caller at your door might be, “Come on in. What took you so long to get here?”

Why the change? Because now you need a furnace and there is a high degree of urgency.

If a prospect doesn’t want or need to buy something now, he’ll keep his money in his wallet where it’s warm and safe.

Telemarketer’s folly

This lack of urgency explains why so many telephone pitches fall on seemingly deaf ears. Unless you’ve been recently considering getting your carpets or chimney cleaned, you are not too inclined to do so just because the company’s crew will be in your area next Tuesday. While your carpets could probably do with a cleaning, there is no pressing need to have it done. Therefore, there is no sense of urgency to spend your money at this time and, consequently, no sale for the person on the telephone.

Smart telemarketers are starting to use a two-call approach. The first call is to plant the seed for a sale without pushing for an immediate decision. They just want you to think about their offer. They’ll often try to create a sense of urgency by giving you a special price or whatever should you decide to go ahead with the offer when they call you back. Now you have a chance to think about getting your carpets or chimney cleaned and by the time they call you back, you’ve created your own sense of urgency or otherwise convinced yourself you should take advantage of the offer.

Salesperson’s folly

By failing to properly qualify prospects, some salespeople spend time with PWOTs (Potential Waste of Time) instead of prospects who are prepared to buy now.

In addition to qualifying the M.A.N. (the person with the Money, Authority, and Need), salespeople need to uncover the degree of urgency that exists in the prospect’s mind. Without a sense of urgency, the sale isn’t likely to happen any­time soon.

Degrees of urgency

There are five basic degrees of urgency. The general rule is that the higher the sense of urgency, the more likely the sale will happen now.

There is a High Sense of Urgency and a strong likelihood the sale will occur now if the sale:

  • Eases an immediate pain
  • Solves a current problem
  • Fills a present defined need

There is a Medium Sense of Urgency and a high likelihood the sale will occur now if the sale:   

  • Avoids future pain
  • Solves a future problem
  • Fills a future defined need

There is Some Sense of Urgency and a low likelihood the sale will occur now if the sale:

  • Creates an immediate gain
  • Satisfies a current want
  • Produces an immediate benefit

There is a Low Sense of Urgency and a sale is unlikely to occur now if the sale: 

  • Creates a potential future gain
  • Satisfies a future want
  • Produces a long-term benefit

There is No Sense of Urgency and no saleif there’s:

  • No pain
  • No problem
  • No defined need or personal want

Uncovering the Degree of Urgency

It’s important to take the time during the qualifying process to determine the sense of urgency, or lack of urgency, that exists in the prospect’s mind. Sometimes the degree of urgency is obvious, like the person with the broken furnace, but this isn’t always the case.

Salespeople often confuse a prospect’s interest with urgency. A prospect can have a strong interest in something yet have no pressing need to buy. The person who had the broken furnace probably didn’t have much interest in one, just a pressing need to have one installed now.

Here are a few simple questions that will help determine the prospect’s degree of urgency:

“How important is it for you to move forward with this?”
“How critical is this?”
“What’s likely to happen if you don’t go ahead with this in the near future?”
“Why are you considering this now?”
“What are the consequences of not going ahead with this now?”

Remember, prospects buy on their need to buy, not your need to sell and they buy in their own time frame, not yours. So find out what the prospect’s needs are and when they need to have those needs filled. That way you’ll be taking an even more thorough and professional approach to satisfying your prospects.

And also remember: No sense of urgency — no sale!