If there is one question that occurs the most on our sales programmes, it has to revolve around dealing with objections. Many delegates say that if they could just have the magic wand to overcome objections, they would love their job. But because salespeople allow objections to be raised in the first place, they face the uphill task of having to deal with them head-on.
In fact, think of the language used when referring to objections; ‘deal with them’, ‘overcome them’, get round them’, ‘blast through them’. Boy, it sounds like a real battle before you even start!
Why do they occur? Easy, really. It’s because the decision-maker cannot realistically see the value or worth of buying over the price that is being charged.
The equation is simple: V minus P
Here, V = Value and P = Price. For the decision to be made in your favour, perceived value in the buyer’s eyes has to be greater than the price or cost of making that choice.
Remember, value is in the eye of the buyer, so if one person thinks that item is worth the price and another doesn’t, the difference in viewpoint will affect the decision.
For example, how much would you pay for a small bottle of water?
You might consider £1 to be the right price for it. If it was £10, the ‘worth’ in your eyes is greatly diminished.
But if you were dying of thirst in the desert, and had £10 in your pocket, would the ‘worth’ to you now go up? Of course.
So, how can you tell what is most valuable to a prospect and how can you overcome what might be potential objections later in the conversation?
Well, questions are the answer. Find out what criteria the decision-maker will be using to make their mind up when the time comes. If you are able to identify this and you know it may be an issue later on, you can prevent it before it actually comes up.
Let’s take an example: You discover that budget is a key issue for the prospect you are talking with. You determine that your solution may be a little higher in price than the prospect wants to pay. You can prevent what might be an objection against your price by saying something like:
“We discussed earlier how you want the widget to last a long time and how reliability is really important to you. We also talked about how much it costs to repair your current widget every time it breaks down.
If we were able to cut all those costs and improve the reliability at a stroke, do you think it would be worth looking at? As you said, repairs are costing around £1500 per year. Our solution will save you that and take away the worry of further costs in the future, especially with our optional extended warranty”
What has this immediately done? It has raised the value of your solution in the customer’s mind, so he is more likely to accept a higher price. Remember V minus P?
If the value has been raised in their mind, the objection that you might have expected about your higher price won’t be an objection anymore, as the prospect sees how much better off they would be with your solution, especially as they won’t have to pay out the continuous repair costs that would have been grating for him.
If you are able to face the objections head-on, and highlight them before they are raised, they cease to become the obstacles they might have been and actually create opportunities for you to highlight how the product or service can be more beneficial in the long-run.
Value is in the eye of the buyer. Build that value up, so when a potential objection could be raised, the potential benefits can outweigh any drawbacks.
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There are only TWO objections that exist. That’s all; just two. They come disguised as dozens of other issues and appear to be tons of objections. My contention however is that there are but two real objections, and understanding this will help you close more sales today.
Please understand that I am not trying to raise a big debate on this issue. I just want to help you see things from a slightly different point of view. To help explain, I will use the following analogy, although it is not a perfect one.
You have a visit with your doctor. Perhaps you are ill, or have even just gone for a preventive check-up. In either case, the physician performs a thorough examination. The doctor then diagnoses problem, if is there is one. Finally, the doctor prescribes a treatment plan to solve the problem and cure the illness.
Now, think about this question: What reason can there be for you to object to the doctor’s prescribed solution? Why would you reject the doctor’s treatment? As many ideas may come to mind, if you look carefully, there are really only two reasons:
1. You do not totally agree with the doctor’s diagnosis or
2. You do not agree with the doctor’s prescribed solution or some combination of the two.
Trust: You might say that the reason you object is that you do not trust the doctor. Ok. That means that you do not trust his or her diagnosis. You do not believe the doctor is qualified and therefore the diagnosis is suspect.
Price: Perhaps it is a “price” objection as you feel the doctor’s remedy is too expensive or time consuming. You do not believe the prescription is the best one. Once again, you do not agree with the prescription.
Urgency: You object because you would rather wait as you do not feel the situation is as urgent as the doctor claims. Again, you do not believe in the diagnosis.
Of all the objections you may get, if you drill down, you will see that they fit into one of two categories:
1. The prospect does not fully believe in your diagnosis of their problem/need or
2. The prospect does not believe in the solution to the problem/need
Competition: The prospect objects, due to the competition or that they are happy with their current supplier. In such a case, the prospect does not believe that they are better off with you. They do not believe that they will suffer or have a problem without you—they do not believe in your diagnosis.
On the other hand, with a competition objection the prospect may believe in the problem and the value of the problem, yet does not feel that your solution will solve it, and therefore chooses to stay with the competitor.
Price: First, realise that a price objection is NEVER about price; it is about VALUE. The price objection clearly states that the prospect feels that your solution is not worth solving the problem. The buyer feels that the problem is simply not as bad, urgent or as costly as you claim and therefore the solution costs more than the problem. The prospect does not agree with the diagnosis.
The Real Point
Of course, I can go one for pages with all sorts of examples to prove this idea, but please understand that such is not the point. I am not trying to prove anything or get into debates on the issue.
My point is to get you to THINK more BEFORE you REACT. My point is to simplify some of the overly complex rhetoric out there and help you to see things more clearly. Don’t be so quick to jump into that big book of canned rebuttals and off-pat answers to objections. Don’t be so quick to accept that price or economy objection, when the truth is that you just did not do your job.
Dealing with today’s modern buyer, you have to look below the surface, and more importantly, you have to look within!
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Every day, I hear from sales people who are confused, frustrated or defeated by facing what they feel is a nearly insurmountable objection:
“I am sorry, but I am very happy with my current supplier/vendor. We have been doing business with them for many years and have no reason to change…”
This position strikes terror in most sales people and many ask me for advice on how to overcome this objection. The problem is that this is NOT an objection. It is a matter of fact, and should be expected.
Waiting for You?
My question is, when you call a prospective client, what did you expect their situation to be? Did you really think the prospect would be sitting there, without a current supplier or vendor and just waiting for you to call?
It is obvious that the prospective company is already doing business with one of your competitors. Now, if that decision maker were completely unhappy and unsatisfied with that current vendor, do you think he or she would have done something about it? What businessperson would continue to do business with a vendor for which they truly did not want to do business? And if, that were the case, then would not that vendor had probably called YOU?
Of course, they are happy with their current supplier or vendor, and you should already assume that. It is not an objection. Therefore, do not take it as an objection and move on. Instead of trying to argue the fact that perhaps you would make a better supplier, take the sales process as it should progress…one-step at a time.
Glad to Hear That
Do not argue the point. Instead, agree and even congratulate the prospect and let them know the reason for your contact at this stage of the sales process.
“Well, I am really happy with our current technical training company. We have been working with them for about ten years, and we are very satisfied.”
“Great! I am glad to hear that Ethan. I would think that since you have been doing business with XYZ Tech for all of these years, that you are indeed very happy. I am also certain that they EARNED your business. Ethan, I am not asking you to GIVE me your business because I have NOT earned as they did. All I am asking is that you allow me to give you some valuable information about new developments in our industry over a quick 30 minute meeting. Perhaps in time, I might be able also to EARN some of your business. But in the mean time, the information will beneficial to you…”
The situation is the exact opposite of what most sales people think: Don’t fear the prospect who is happy with their current supplier…fear the one who is not.
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“I want to think about it…” may be the most popular objection in the world, and still causes many sales people a lot of grief and substantial income. The reason behind the objection is usually that the sales interaction did not successfully inspire a sense of urgency in the prospect. As I have said before, you need to address and nullify most objections during the sales process or interaction and long before you ask for the order.
However, I know the “Want to think about it…” objection still haunts many professionals, so allow me to give you one little gem that can help you close a few more sales, even if you waited until the last minute.
You Have BEEN Thinking About It
Before I give you an example, I want you to understand the concept. In answering this objection, you want to help the prospect realize that they have already BEEN thinking about it, and for a long time.
Essentially, you want the prospect to understand that he or she has thought about, desired and sought the benefits your product or service offers, long before you ever came along. The prospect always wanted those benefits; always wanted the results that your product delivers.
Your next step is to help the prospect also understand that while they have been thinking about the benefits, the exact vehicle, method or tool that would help them achieve and receive those benefits, is what they did not know of, and that is what they really need to think about.
Value, Affordability, Competition
When you successfully accomplish the first two steps, you turn the “think about it” objection into one of value, price or competition, which you should be able to handle.
Here is a generic example, and as always, remember, this is a hypothetical example and is in no way meant as suggested script. It is the idea and the concept that I want you to digest.
Selling advertising and marketing services to a small business owner
Prospect – “Like I said, it looks great, but I really need to think about it.”
Sales Person – “Steve, you’ve already thought about it. In fact you have BEEN thinking about this for years.”
Prospect – “What are you talking about? I just met you and found out about your services.”
Sales Person – “Steve, you told me you opened up the store, what was it…11 years ago? Is that right?”
Prospect – “Yeah. Last month made it 11 years.”
Sales Person – “Then Steve, you have been thinking about this for at least 11 years. For 11 years you’ve been thinking about becoming the biggest most successful Widget maker in this area, haven’t you?”
Prospect – “Uh, well yeah…”
Sales Person – “Steve, from the very day you opened the doors, you wanted to get ALL of the business in your doors. You wanted to capture the largest possible share of the Widget market that you could get, didn’t you? I mean from DAY ONE, you wanted to become NUMBER ONE in the Widget industry, outshining all of your competition, isn’t that right?”
Prospect – “Well, of course…”
Sales Person – “Steve, our products and services do nothing less than help you get what you have always thought about getting, and help you do what you’ve been thinking about doing for the last 11 years.
What I am saying Steve, is that you have been thinking about these issues, these benefits for years. The only thing you may not have known was what was the best vehicle, the best and most cost efficient method or tool to help get you there. Does that make sense?”
Steve, there are only two issues that you do have to decide on, and they are, number one:
Do you really believe that our ExecPlan Service will actually help you get those things you’ve been thinking about? “
(Note: If the answer is NO, maybe, I don’t know or anything but a resounding YES, then guess what? That’s right; you blew it in the sales interaction somewhere. Go back to what you missed, to what you failed to help the prospect understand, and take it from there. If the answer is yes…”
Prospect – “Oh yeah! Like I said, I think it’s a great plan…”
Sales Person – “Well Steve, it sounds like the main thing you really want to make sure of is if the plan truly is the best value for the money, and if you can really afford to make the move today. Does that sound more like what you want to ponder?”
Another important thing to understand about this close, is that often, the main thing the prospect needs is that rekindling of their dreams.
Husband and Wife
“Sharon and Mike, you have been thinking about this for years and years. The very day you bought this home and began to start a family, you already thought about providing your children with the very best home environment and education that you could. You have been thinking about making sure they stay in the best of health. The day little Mike was born, you vowed then and there to make sure he would have…”
You get the idea.
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You ask for the order and the prospect does not accept. Is the prospect objecting, stalling or is there a condition that is preventing the sale?
I know these terms are familiar, but I don’t believe most sales people understand the differences between these three no-sale responses. However, understanding the difference will allow you to respond in the proper manner, and help you close a few more sales.
#1 = An Objection
First, understand that an objection is a situation in where the prospect CAN buy, but has made a decision not to do so. While there may seem to be 10,000 objections out there, essentially there are only two. The prospect, for one reason or another, does not fully believe in, or is not SOLD on, the analysis of the problem, or the solution to solve it.
Diagnosis and Prescription
For the prospect to buy, your product or service has to solve a problem the prospect is having or satisfy some desire. Therefore, as you heard me say a million times, you have to unearth the prospect’s problems to expose the want and need. You then present the solution to solve those problems and satisfy the want and need.
When the prospect objects, they disagree with your assessment of the problem or your solution to it. Either, they do not believe that the problem, the need, is as bad or as urgent as you say, or your solution will not solve the problem or it cost more than the problem itself.
Objections are actually a good thing, in that they expose areas in your sales interaction where you may have come up short. Remember, however, that with an objection, the prospect has made a decision. The decision was “NO.” That is also good, because now you can give the buyer NEW information so that they can make a NEW decision
#2 = A Stall
A stall is where the prospect has NOT made a decision, and is doing everything possible NOT to make a decision. The problem sales people have with a stall, is that they usually try to get the prospect to make a decision AND make a positive buying decision at the same time. That’s too much to ask for.
Often, the sales person is trying to overcome an objection, when the prospect has not yet made a decision. In such a case, there IS NO OBJECTION to overcome. The prospect will not decide. With a stall, just help the prospect to make a decision, either “YES” or “NO.” Then, if the decision is no, you have an objection.
#3 = A Condition
A condition is a situation in where circumstances make it impossible for the prospect to buy. A condition is something that neither you nor the prospect can do anything about. A condition is an obstacle in where even if the prospect desperately wanted to buy, they could not.
You should have qualifying filters in place to eliminate prospects that cannot buy, very early in the sales process. However, you will sometimes end up in a situation where something will prevent the sale.
Far too many sales people today, accept routine objections and stalls as if they are conditions, when they are not.
“Your displays look great, and I really wish I could buy them. But, our home office will not allow us to display merchandise from outside vendors. It is a violation of my franchise contract.”
That is a CONDITION.
“Your displays look great, and I really wish I could buy them. But I really just don’t have the funds right now…”
That is NOT a condition.
An objection = give more information to get a new decision.
A stall = help the prospect make a decision and be willing to accept “NO.”
A condition (a real one that is) = qualify your prospects better and avoid this.
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