Breakthrough Selling: Navigating 11th-Hour Prospects

Every now and then you get a call from a prospect interested in making a large purchase, even though you don’t regularly do business with the practice.

“Hi Joe, this Dr. Stevens. I’m planning on adding a new hygiene operatory and I wanted to find out what you can do for me.”

Seems strange that someone you don’t know is suddenly interested in spending tens of thousands of dollars with you rather than his normal supplier, doesn’t it?

Sometimes these are real opportunities. Other times, not so much. Before proceeding, make sure you understand the reason for the call. Usually one of two things is going on:

1. They’re keeping their current rep honest. When it comes to large purchases, consumers like to make sure they’re not overpaying. So they gather quotes. Most prospects buy the solution from their current supplier, even at a slightly higher price, assuming the difference is small.

2. They have a few proposed solutions but they’re not 100% confident in them. These prospects have met with a few salespeople and talked about what they’re looking to accomplish. The salespeople have come back with suggestions, recommendations and proposals, but for some reason they don’t seem exactly right. So calls go out to more salespeople.


What You Can Do
Navigating through this scenario can be relatively easy with the right approach. When you know the prospect already has a proposal from his or her regular vendor, you want to determine as early as possible how the prospect hopes you can help. Here is a way to do that.

“Doctor, thanks for contacting me. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you. You mentioned on the phone that you had a few proposals from other vendors. From my experience, when I get called in this late in the process there’s usually one of two things going on. Sometimes the clients already have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to buy, but they want to verify the pricing to make sure they are getting a fair deal. Other times, I find that clients aren’t sure the proposed solution is exactly the right fit and they’d like to look at other options. I’m ok either way, but the more you can share about your expectations at this stage, the better I’ll be able to tell you if I can help.”

Depending on the answer, you can decide where to go next. If they want to see if you can beat the price, that’s up to you. Personally, I don’t compete on price, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take the opportunity to talk about how I create value for my clients. But history tells me that the odds of winning a sale on price are small when you and the client have no track record together.

However, if they say they are not comfortable with the solutions that have been presented, now you have an opportunity. Follow up with these questions to restart the process, and you’ll be well on your way to a new client.

“Doctor, tell me a little bit about what you’re trying to accomplish and what solutions have been proposed. What specifically do you think these solutions are missing? Why do you think they aren’t going to work or be a good fit?”

When you’re late to the game, you need to change your strategy a bit. And that starts with getting a good understanding of why they’re calling you this far along in the process.


MENTOR December 2016;7(12):5.

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