You've been talking to your conference committee or C-Suite for a while now about making a new or improved event technology investment into a mobile event app that not only serves as a digital program guide, but truly connects attendees and builds community. You've got a sense of all of your stakeholder goals and their pain, and it seems like the event app you are advocating for is a great fit for the event.
You're all ready to set a date to start discussing contract terms so you can get this thing signed and into execution mode already, but then one of your stakeholders says something that stops you in your tracks.
"Can we talk about this next quarter? It's just not a good time for us to invest in a mobile event app right now."
Great. Not only is this tool something you’ve building pretty critical elements of your conference or tradeshow program around logistically, but you've also sunk a significant amount of time working with getting this project approved. And now they're not going to make the investment?
Determine If There are True Roadblocks or Excuses
We’ve all seen it happen. Someone gets spooked; someone else is advocating for ways that the money could be spent; something happened to make the budget or implementation of a new tool feel out of control. We hear you when you say that sometimes there are true obstacles, a company or association or conference committee member who wants to make the investment but truly can't right now will proactively let you know their timeline and exactly what's blocking them.
More than likely though it is that whoever on your leadership or decision-making team is raising an objection doesn't feel a sense of urgency or hasn't seen enough value in the event app to buy.
We’re always around to help make the business case for why we think you should use a mobile event app to raise attendee engagement and build better connections. However, we also put together these 20 responses to get to the heart of your Doubting Thomas's (or Thomasina's) hesitation.
How to respond to the statement “It’s Just not the Right Time for a Mobile Event App”
1. "If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to try the event app this year?"
If your objector says no, they don't think the event app is valuable. Find out why. If your objector says yes, dig deeper to discover what logistical hurdles are standing in the way.
2. "What's holding you back?"
By getting your person to talk through their reasoning, you'll be in a better position to address his or her hesitation.
3. "When would be a good time to make this investment?”
If your objector's answer doesn't sound all that different from their current circumstances, follow up with #9.
4. "In your opinion, what are our other priorities right now?"
It's possible that your objector has several other pressing priorities that need to be tackled before you take on or make a larger investment in your event app. If you have the whole picture, you'll be able to tell how much of an impact this new or improved platform can really make right now, or even better -- how the event app can help achieve other business goals. If it turns out your objector's goals are being pushed aside by leadership, follow up with #5.
5. "How can I help you get the resources you need to sell this to the decision maker?"
Maybe you’re the event coordinator and your objector is your boss. And maybe your boss isn’t being a giant pain but there’s stuff going on above or around your team that you need more insight into. Determine where your objector's having difficulty gaining traction, then work together to help get internal or other key stakeholder buy-in.
6. "So is X goal no longer a priority for you?"
Like we’re always preaching, a new or improved technology tool like a mobile event app is only as good as the event goals you’re going to use it to accomplish. That way not only is your attendee experience better BUT also when you get objections or pushback to your big ideas, you have that tangible goal you and your objector have discussed and likely agreed on.
This question moves the discussion away from the actual purchase process and back to the story of how the event app can improve the event or whatever strategic organizational goal you were going to accomplish with said event app. Follow up with #7 and #8.
7. "What happens to those goals if we don't act now?"
Slightly passive aggressive but still gets to the point. What's your objector's Plan B? Maybe they have a good one, and in that case the event app truly may not be a good fit right now. But making your objector realize they have no other way of solving their problems (which are really your problems since you're in charge of doing the things, amirite?) will get you back in the game.
8. "When are you hoping to achieve X goals by?"
If your objector can't define this, you're either talking to them in the education stage or their problems in relation to the event app just aren't severe enough to warrant solving right now. In plain english, typically that means you likely need to educate them or provide successful use cases like case studies or a reference to help them feel more secure before moving into negotiation phase.
Or you need to make the pain point you’re solving with the event app bigger. Cause likely it is a big deal but you haven’t hit your objector’s trigger where it’s impacting them. Make it their problem. Literally. And then there's clear pain to be addressed.
9. "If we restart this conversation back next quarter, what circumstances will have changed?"
Maybe your objector is in the middle of a massive internal initiative and doesn't have bandwidth to talk to you right now. Maybe your objector is waiting on a round of funding to come in.
Or maybe they're just stalling.
Get your objector to evaluate whether anything -- their budget, their priorities, their goals -- is actually going to be different when you bring the group together to talk about this again. If they'll truly be ready to pull the trigger then, why not now?
10. "What's going to be different next quarter?"
A broader, rhetorical spin on #9. Question your objector's motivations for brushing you off without coming right out and saying it.
11. "How successful is our event without this event app? I mean, we were looking in the first place because of X, right?”
A good way to remind your objector why you went out, sourced all these options, and then brought them the best event apps that would fit your event(s) in the first place. A objector who saw absolutely no problems typically wouldn’t have let the conversation get this far. Delaying a purchase will only make those problems worse.
12. "Here's the timeline for ROI if we start in X months. Does that work for you?"
There's that sense of urgency again. Remind your objector that implementing a new event app doesn't produce overnight results.
The question here is implicit -- but can your event really afford to wait to make the investment in the new or improved event app?
We love this advice from a sales director from Hubspot, "I hit the mute button if we’re on the phone, or I just go silent if we’re in person, and wait to see how my objector continues.”
A objector with a real objection will ask, "Are you there?" or wait for you to follow up, says the sales director. But if your objector starts to waffle more or talking in a stream-of-consciousness, it's a good sign they're just brushing you off.
14. "Do you understand the event app’s value?"
"In all my years of selling, nobody's ever said no," says that same sales director.
Follow up with #15 to really drive this point home.
15. "Which part of the event app do you think would help our event the most?"
This question gets your objector to reiterate their goals and forces them to tell you why they think that the event is a good fit for your event, instead of making them listen to you talk about it.
It can also trigger important red flags -- for example, if you've been focusing on one area of the event app but they bring up an entirely different area, it's a sign you need to restart the conversation on different terms.
16. "Is it the timing, or is something else concerning you?"
A timing objection may be a distraction for the bigger issue on their mind. To find out what's really holding your objector back, ask this question.
The objector will either say something along the lines of, "Well, I'm worried about [different issue] … " or "It's not a good time to make this investment because [valid reason] ... "
In both cases, you'll uncover the true issue -- which you can then resolve.
Simple answers are sometimes the most effective. The objector is probably expecting that you'll try to convince them it is a good time to buy, so this response will catch them off-guard (in a good way).
Once they've given you context, you can decide whether they're in a position to move forward or not.
18. "I understand, as I learned when I was doing my initial research and talked to a couple of other event managers who shared their event or organization similar to ours was in a similar situation. They ultimately decided to make the investment in the event app because of [trigger event, challenge, opportunity] and the event app's ROI. In the past [X amount of time], they've seen [Y results]."
Your objector has shared why they want to wait (see the previous question) -- but you think it's in your best interest to act sooner.
Use a relevant case study to make your objector think twice about turning you down. After you've shown them evidence your solution works, they'll be eager to reap its benefits for your event.
19. "Thanks for your honesty -- I don't want to waste your time or mine until you’re ready to make a decision. In the meantime, can I send you any valuable content I find on about the business or event goal we were hoping to solve through an event app like the one we’re considering?"
According to Pathable’s account manager Jonathan Bray, this response works well with objectors who just aren’t able to see pay the money or current situation they’re facing.
Pressuring them to make the investment will only make them screen your calls and emails and give you an organizational reputation which might make every other decision you’re trying to get made challenging.
Instead, ask to periodically send them helpful content. Your ask for this investment will stay top-of-mind while adding value and building up your status as a strategic event professional who is focused on big picture goals.
When you’re ready to re-start the conversation, they’ll already be in a better place education wise.
20. "Is there something coming up organizationally that would make this a priority?"
Eventprofs live by the calendar. We know we have to get things accomplished in a certain timeline or the event just isn’t going to produced.
However, there are always things that are continually in flux for us. I mean raise your hand if you believe that those slides you asked your breakout speakers to send to you two weeks before your show will stay the same. Or that you honestly believe your volunteers will all show up on time and completely up to date with the latest training material you sent to them.
This is what I’m saying.
Other people don’t live their lives this way. The ambiguity we’re trained to deal with is just not part of their worlds. Because of that, put yourself into their shoes for a minute and consider what it might be like to be freaked out by ambiguity, big or small. Or that there is just other stuff going on that you over in event world might not know about.
If an objector is unwilling to commit to your timeline, it might be because their budget is uncertain, a large company announcement is on the horizon, or something conflicting large industry event is looming that would make your timeline difficult to implement.
Ask questions like, "The timeline seems to be a stumbling block for us. Is there something coming up that might be causing you hesitation to pursue our stated timeline?"
If the answer is, "Yes, I'm actually worried my budget might be cut next week,” which means your budget might be cut, you know what the objection is and how to proceed. If the answer is, "No, I mean you know how the company has a lot of red tape, and I'm worried this timeline doesn't reflect that." you've still gotten to the bottom of the real issue and can move forward.
A simple, "How can I help," can mean the difference between an amazing new event app and doing the schedule manually again in Excel, or trying to figure out yet another way to get your attendees to connect 1:1.
Let us know if we can help you in any way! And if you’re looking for something a little bit different that connects attendees, lightens your logistical load, or allows your exhibitors to see a lot more ROI along with increased non-dues revenue, let’s set up a time to chat.