Written by Sean McPheat |
Objections occur for many reasons.
Maybe you haven’t built up the value of your solution.
It could be the buyer has a similar solution and doesn’t want to change.
Or they don’t trust that your products are right for them or their business.
Don’t be put off by objections.
How to overcome objections in sales
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.
Before I cover the 10 hardest sales objections that you’ll receive let’s take a look at whether the objection in the first place is indeed an objection, a stall or a condition.
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
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.
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.
How to respond to objections
If you walk away at the first sign of resistance, you will fall at the first hurdle.
Firstly, you need to be aware of why the objection has occurred and then see whether there is a route you can take to work with and convince the prospect they are better off with your solution than without it.
The best way of dealing with objections is to firstly understand their cause.
Really listen to what they are saying.
If they consider you are too expensive, then analyse why you didn’t build up enough value, rather than concentrating on reducing your price.
When you know the rationale, you can then identify the best way forward to deal with it.
But firstly get to the route cause.
Here are ten of the most common objections and some suggestions of what to do with each one:
“You’re Too Expensive”
This is probably one of the more common responses, as everyone is trying to cut their costs in business.
You will come up against the price objection a lot.
Remember…if you start focusing on price, you risk getting into a transactional discussion, where justification goes into the background and simple positional pricing comes to the fore.
Instead, look at how valuable your solution would be for your client’s business and work on how the savings they would enjoy, or the longevity they would experience, or the ease of use they would observe, would all outweigh any seeming discrepancies with price they may have observed.
“There’s No Budget Left This Year”
With this one, the client may well be telling the truth and literally has no funding to deal with it now.
You can determine if that is the only reason they aren’t going ahead; in which case, build up the value of using you when the time comes to set the budget.
Keep in touch with them during the time it takes to secure budget and then approach them with the solution again.
If they really want the product now, maybe there’s a way you can help them support the application for further budget by highlighting the savings the company would make if they bought now rather than waiting.
The savings or productivity increase may outweigh the need to wait for budget sign-off.
This is where your consultancy skills may help them improve their business opportunities.
“We’re Already Using Competitor X For This Product”
For most salespeople, this is the end of the line, as they take the slow trudge back to their office and, head bowed, tell their manager there’s no chance with this prospect.
Instead, feel happy that the prospect has actually realised they have a need for a product like yours.
Find out how the relationship is going with their current supplier, and if there is anything they are still looking for that they are nor enjoying with that supplier.
How’s the relationship going?
Is there anything more they could get that they aren’t at the moment?
Questions like these sometimes creates dissonance with the prospect; they start to wonder if everything in the garden really is as rosy as they suppose.
Talk about how your product may be able to improve results in the future for them, so when the time comes to renew or replace, your product is on their list of preferences.
“We Don’t Have A Problem With That Right Now”
Very often, this comes up because they are in a contented position, comfortable with what they have and the results they are getting.
They may not know that your product offers gains they may not have thought of or allows them to increase benefits they didn’t know about.
Highlight areas that your product or service offers that they maybe hand’t considered.
Offer solutions that would take them from where they are now to a better productivity, process, profitability or procedure that they weren’t aware of.
Help them see that being comfortable now doesn’t mean things won’t be better in the future.
“I’ve Read About Some Complaints About Your Products”
This may be true or made up, but don’t try and defend yourself, as it sounds as if the problems they are bringing up are valid.
If they comments are true and you know about them, you can say that you had some issues that re now dealt with and the product is better than ever.
If you feel the comments are unjustified, you can thank the prospect and say you will inform the relevant departments about the concerns.
Then you can carry on with your questioning about the company’s business and find out how relevant the objection really is.
“You Don’t Understand Our Business. We’re Unique”
This may occur because of a statement you made or because the prospect doesn’t see you as a strong player in that industry.
Whatever the cause, ascertain what experience you have in the industry and determine whether that is relevant or not to the processes you are going through.
In many ways, having knowledge of how companies succeed outside of the industry may be beneficial, in that it gives different perspectives to the solutions you are attempting to work with.
If knowledge of the industry is vital then work with the prospect to discover how your skillset can help them achieve even better results than they are achieving now.
“We’re Happy With Our Current Solution, Thanks”
It may be that they are simply happy and content and no amount of persuasion will change that.
In which case, move on to where your services will make a difference.
But a quick comment or two on how your solutions have helped other companies to be even better than before may cause the prospect to stop and think that maybe there could be better things ahead, if they only just take the blinkers off and look around.
That opens up the chance for you to create a gap between where they are now and where they could be with your solution.
“I’m Not Interested”
This ‘brush-off’ may simply mean they don’t have time now to discuss it, or they haven’t had a chance to see the value you could offer them.
If you still feel there’s a good fit between your tow companies, arrange to send some testimonials and arrange a follow up with the buyer.
Many of your sales will have been made to companies who weren’t interested at first, but afterwards saw the advantages of dealing with you.
“Call Me In Six Months”
Again, this may be a tactic to get you to simply go away.
Or it may be that something will be different in the next few months.
Use the comment to be interested in what changes may happen in that time that justifies you calling them back.
Something simple like ‘OK, Mr Prospect, I’ll do that. Tell me, what will be different in six months that will justify me calling?”
This question may still receive a brush-off, in which case you simply build up your value over that time period so they really want to talk to you in six months.
Or they may share information with you that could really mean ‘call me in six months’ like an invitation to tender or an expansion of operations.
In which case, you have a reason to call back.
“Your Product Doesn’t Have (Specific Feature) And We Need That”
Determine here if the feature is a nice to have, a need to have or a vital feature for the prospect.
Discuss if other features are just as or more important than the feature they are pointing out.
Work out if a similar product you offer has the feature they want and calculate whether that different product would still offer the benefits that would help the prospect gain the results they are looking for.
If the feature they want and need isn’t offered by your company’ products, see if the other features they would be getting outweigh the benefits of the missing feature.
If so, discuss the results they will get without that feature.
If not, maybe it’s time to move on to a prospect with a better fit.
Remember…some objections are real reasons why the prospect won’t do business with you.
Others are designed to put you off and highlight a possible missing part of your sales technique.
You need to determine which ones are genuine concerns that you can deal with and which are situations where you might want to move on and find a better fit for your business.
A common sales objection response template
I’d like to look at a common way that people are taught on how to handle sales objections and then give you a warning about it and then how to respond properly!
The technique is known as the Feel, Felt, Found method, because those are the words used to convince the prospect that others have been successful in using their services.
Let’s take a closer look on how you would use method to handle the price objection.
It would go something like this:
“It looks too expensive to me; I’m not sure we want to pay that much”
“Yes, I understand how you must feel, Mr Prospect. In fact, other clients of mine have sometimes felt the same way. When they started using our widgets, though, they found that we actually saved them money on stocking costs and increased profitability”
You’ll notice the occasions that Feel, Felt and Found were used in the reply.
This standard reply asks the prospect to believe the as-yet unseen testimonials of current clients.
It doesn’t, however, address the real objection the prospect has brought up.
How, for instance, do the ‘other clients’ compare with their own organisation?
Were the needs the same?
Were their operations working with the same overheads and challenges that this prospect’s company were facing?
In other words, the Feel, Felt, Found method can easily cause more objections to come up in the prospect’s mind.
Don’t get me wrong, this method has its place in your dialogue with the client, but my advice is to use it sparingly.
Customers are very savvy today and have probably heard this response many, many times, which makes it stand out as a standard reply, and one to be wary of.
The very first thing to say when handling ANY sales objection…
A better response to the price objection above would be to probe deeper as to the meaning of the objection.
“It looks too expensive to me; I’m not sure we want to pay that much”
“Could I just ask what you meant when you said that it looks too expensive?“
You need to qualify what the prospect meant when they said that it “looks too expensive”
Compared to what?
Has the client only taken into consideration the up-front investment?
Is the prospect comparing like with like?
Would you be able to reduce his running costs over a period of time that would actually save money in the long run?
There’s a saying in sales that goes ‘The person in control of a conversation is the one asking the questions.’
Think about that for a moment and you can see the sense in it.
When someone asks you a question, they immediately put you on a course of finding the answer. Your thought processes are controlled by the nature of the question, and you seek the answer to what they have asked.
In a sense, dealing with sales objections is a similar process.
Rarely does a prospect tell you the whole story when they present an objection. Most times, it’s a short phrase or sentence that doesn’t cover the real reason for the objection.
Examples could include:
You’ll see the common theme running through all of these – you don’t have enough information to deal with it.
The worst thing to do is to respond with an answer that tries to dispute their objection or disprove their current opinion about the situation – like using the feel, felt, found method.
Instead, you need to deal with the objection effectively by being curious about what made them come up in the first place.
As I said before you need to ask what they meant by it.
You can always ask “Exactly what do you mean by…”
Another really powerful reply is “What makes you say that?”
Here are some examples:
“I need to get further quotes.”
“What makes you say that?”
“We don’t need this right now.”
“What makes you say that?”
“You’re too expensive.”
“What makes you say that?”
You’re now in control of the conversation and the prospect feels obliged to answer you with further details.
You haven’t pre-judged the situation or tried to justify your prices.
You’ve simply handed the baton to the other person and asked for more detail with a simple, detail-enhancing question.
It also prevents you from trying to justify your position or your product presentation and risk not being clear about what the real nature of the customer objection actually is.
For example, if the prospect said “you’re too expensive” and you immediately went into solution mode with something like ‘Well, I’m sure we can come to some agreement on price, as I am allowed some discretion in offering discounts’, you’ve opened yourself up to demands from the customer that might not have been necessary if you’d clarified the real issue first.
The question ‘what makes you say that?’ now gets the prospect to go into detail that they maybe wouldn’t have done without the question.
Again, with the “too expensive” example, they could mean they have researched you against competitors and you are more expensive than they are, or they bought similar products two years ago for a cheaper price, or they have a figure in mind and your price is higher, or they would buy from you if the price was a little lower.
Without that simple, five-word question, you run the risk of answering an objection in the wrong way.
Try this the next time a prospect raises an objection and see if you become clearer in your mind as to the real nature of what is stopping them from going forward with you.
Originally published: 16 August, 2017
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