Prospecting Training ~ Objection Handling 2.0
How to handle objections
Have you ever been in a sales situation when everything seems to be going well - and then all of a sudden, you get stopped in your tracks by an objection? In my case, when this would happen, my heart would sink, my stomach would go into turmoil, and my mind would shift into overdrive trying to figure out how to deal with it.
All my early sales training I'd ever read made a big deal about having to deal with and overcome objections. It was as though every sale contained a mountain called "Big-Objection" that had to be scaled before sliding down the other side to a Close.
Even today, any sales training workshop worth its salt, including ours, spends time showing salespeople how to handle objections. Frankly, I feel the sales training community spends far too much time showing people techniques for handling objections and not enough time distinguishing between what is a true objection and what is call resistance.
What is an Objection
How many real objections do you actually get? What exactly is an "objection"? Is it a roadblock to be overcome? Is it an obstacle to closing the sale? Is it a mountain to be climbed? Webster's dictionary defines "objection" as "an expression of opposition or disapproval."
If you disapprove of or oppose someone or the company he represents, are you going to do business with them? I think not!
When the customer says your price is too high, or your delivery is too long, or the specifications don't meet his needs, or he's happy with his current supplier, does that mean he disapproves of or opposes you? Probably not.
So what you might consider to be objections aren't really objections at all, but are sales realities or simple expressions of concern on the part of the customer.
Of course the customer is concerned about the high price because he's not convinced of the value. Of course he's concerned about long delivery because that will cause him delays or problems. Of course he's concerned about the specifications because your solution isn't going to do the job. And of course he's happy with his current supplier. If he wasn't, he'd come looking for you instead of the other way around.
Are there any real "objections?" Probably. How about, "The last time I bought from you delivery was eight weeks late," or "Every time I try to get service, no one calls me back."
And, As the customer's buying cycle continues to evolve, their research of facts, pricing, and general understanding becomes more sophisticated. This means your selling process must start sooner and therefore, you can anticipate an increase in objections.
Introducing Objection-Handling 2.0.
Expect more and more objections to arise in the following 5 categories:
1. Need Category
We all know multiple initiatives are sitting on everyone's agenda the remainder of this year and the urgency and need for your solution may easily take a back seat.
What to do:
- Qualify your prospects to uncover the impact of their organization to determine potential for a need
- Create a strong phone introduction that creates urgency
- Determine if the prospect really knows what you are calling about
- Call wide at different levels
2. Relationship Category:
- Relationship: Although customers are more open to change than ever before, they also want to strengthen existing relationships with current vendors and partner with them in new ways. It may be tougher to displace the competition now.
What to do:
- Establish trust and rapport
- Learn how to sell against your competition
- Determine if the prospect needs to be sold or educated first
- Call wide at different levels
3. Ability Category:
With more decision-makers involved in the process, more No-Po's pop up each day. These are the people who have no power and no authority to make a purchasing decision.
What to do:
- Understand the various authority levels and learn the chain of command to include more decision-makers
- Present your product and align it to their "hot buttons"
- Early in the sale, set expectations that you plan to align at the highest level
4. Product/Service Category:
Although customers know more than ever before, they have less patience with anything too complicated and that lacks scalability and integration.
What to do:
- Provide opportunities to educate on your product/service
- Provide a cost-effective solution for easy entry
- Ask precision questions
- Neutralize their fears by providing added value for what you can deliver
5. Price Category:
Next year is going to be a lean year so prepare for this objection.
How do you rebound? Here are some rebuttal strategies based on the category objection you may receive:
What to do:
- Qualify price versus ownership
- Determine if this is really a strong prospect who has potential
- Spend more time creating value and less time talking about budget
- Call at the highest level and learn the purchasing criteria
What Happens if You Have Covered Your Bases and You Still Get Stuck?
Biases and Roadblocks
You can also run into biases and uninformed customers who throw roadblocks in your way because they simply aren't going to buy from you no matter what. That's not a sale, that's a sales nightmare. Some people won't buy because you're a woman or not a woman, you're too young or too old, or for whatever reason they don't like you or your company. These aren't real objections. They're biases and you're dancing to someone else's tune, the title of which is "There's No Sale Today, Martha."
Secret to Avoiding Objections
So what's the secret to handling objections? The secret is to manage the sales process so as to avoid them. That's it. Now, how exactly does one do this? Well, first of all, remember that people buy from people they know, people they like, and people they trust. So build rapport, be likeable and be trustworthy. Do what you say you'll do when you said you'd do it. Secondly, listen to your customer's concerns. Find out what's standing in the way of his buying from you. What is he unsure or uncomfortable about?
If you've spent the major part of the sales process asking questions, probing and qualifying the customer, you will probably have a good idea of what situations have to be solved or clarified before the customer will feel comfortable moving ahead.
Sometimes there's no simple solution to the customer's concerns. That's when the customer will hesitate to move forward. If you can't find a solution, maybe you can negotiate a resolution.
Perhaps a delayed delivery can be offset in some manner. Maybe no one's product will meet the customer's required specifications and your task is to help the customer accept your solution as the closest match he's likely to find.
What is Call Resistance:
What does it look like when your customer is not giving you an objection but is just resisting you? It typically looks like someone on the other end of the phone who:
- Is vague about why they don't want to speak with you
- Does not listen to your pitch
- Says they are not interested without spending enough time to understand if the solution works for them
- Is too busy to take the call and is trying to get you off the phone as soon as possible
- Wants to deflect a persistent caller by "asking for information" even though they have no real interest.
Many people mistake call resistance for getting a true objection. Because most people don't know how to handle call resistance, they end up hanging-up, wondering what went wrong.
Handling Call Resistance is different to handling objections. Resisting your call means that the decision-maker is not open to giving you the opportunity to speak to them at that moment.
I have always recommended that you respond to resistance questions with these two strategies:
1. Asking thoughtful questions? As most decision-makers are trying to get you off the phone as quickly as possible, but when you ask a thoughtful question, you take the conversation to a different level.
2. Agreeing with the person on the phone that it is an interruption and asking them honestly for a chance to explain the value proposition at a later time.
Some typical resistance statements that you will typically hear are:
- "NO/NOT INTERESTED" (OPTIONS)
- "NOT SURE/SEND INFORMATION"
- "I DON'T NEED IT"
- "I CAN'T AFFORD IT"/ "I DON'T HAVE A BUDGET FOR THIS" / "HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?"
- "GET TO THE POINT / I'M IN A HURRY/I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF A MEETING
- "DO NOT CALL."
- "WE ARE HAPPY WITH WHAT WE HAVE"
- "WHAT IS THIS ABOUT"?
- OVERALL TECHNIQUES:
Overall Process to Handling Any Objection or Call Resistance Situation:
Stop! Do not try to jump in at the beginning - this may cause further objection. When you interrupt them, you are objecting to their objection. If you refuse to listen, then their next steps may well be towards the door.
Use active listening methods, nodding and physically showing interest.
They are trying to tell you something that will help you sell to them, which is a gift from them to you. If you do not listen, then their next step may well be towards the door.
As appropriate, ask some questions. This not only shows you are interested in them, but it also gives you more information with which to make the sale. As you question them, watch carefully for body language that gives you more information about what they are thinking and feeling.
Remember that this is not an interrogation, and that giving them the 'third degree' will turn them off. So keep your questions light and relevant.
You might also tip the bucket at this time, asking them if there are any more concerns (=objections) that they have, and which, if you can resolve them, you might gain a close. It is not always necessary to ask questions. Be deliberate about what you are doing if you do.
Now before you dive into objection-handling, think! What methods will work best with them? Should you take a direct and confrontational approach or should you use the soft-soap to finesse the situation? Or maybe you should put it off to another day (but only if you can be sure that you can return to the selling situation).
Thinking is a good thing where you are adding a little pause into the proceedings, thus demonstrating how you are taking their objection seriously.
This stage may sometimes only be a few seconds after they object or it may require more time in the previous three steps. Now, when you are ready, use the objection-handling method that you believe will work best. Or make up your own. You are under no obligation to try and force-fit a method where it is unlikely to work.
Finally, check to find out whether your objection-handling worked! Ask if you have answered their question. Ask if there are any more concerns. As necessary, handle outstanding objections.
Then go for the close.
CONCLUSION: Negotiate a Resolution
Whatever it is that's keeping the sales process from moving forward, it's your job to identify it and to address it in a professional, non-confrontational manner. You're not trying to overcome the objection; you're working with the customer to resolve the situation in a mutually beneficial manner.
When you do this in a spirit of friendly cooperation, you're partnering with the customer and coming across as a problem solver, not a peddler.
So, by treating what is often considered objections as simple requests for more information or clarification, you can reduce the stress of the situation and keep the sales process moving, hopefully to a successful conclusion.
Should sales trainers stop teaching objection-handling techniques? No, but they should put more emphasis on how to avoid customer concerns from coming up in the first place. They should help salespeople recognize the difference between a valid customer concern and an emotional bias. Salespeople need to improve their skills at uncovering the customer's concerns early in the sales process. They also need to know the difference between a put-off and the reality of human nature that causes a customer to say, "I want to think about it."
The final secret of handling objections is to listen. Most salespeople wouldn't listen at all if they didn't think it was their turn to talk next! You need to hone your skill at not just hearing what the customer is saying, but understanding what the customer is saying.
Once you understand what is standing in the way, you can work with the customer to pave the way to a smooth sale. The key to handling objections isn't confrontation; it's cooperation.
So the secret to handling objections is to cooperate your way to more sales.
Are you tired of having ineffectual results from your prospecting campaigns? Don't give up - our cold calling bootcamps and prospecting training in Toronto will help you supercharge your campaign results quickly and easily.
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