Any excuse or apparent reason a customer gives you for not going any further on the sales journey with you is called an Objection.
Overcoming Objections is one of your core sales techniques. Its history goes back a long time.
My father had a book called `How to Overcome Objections in Selling’ first published in 1954.
And although some of its examples are a bit dated, the main message is as valid today as it ever was . . . Never take an Objection at face value – always test it to see what’s behind it.
The funny thing is that most Objections come up because the customer hasn’t understood something, and that can only be one person’s responsibility – yours, the Salesperson.
That’s a comforting thought – when you get an Objection it’s usually your own fault.
Either because the customer hasn’t understood something, or because you have mentioned a Feature they aren’t interested in.
What’s The Most Common Objection?
You’ve got it – PRICE.
So a customer says to you, “It’s too expensive”. Instead of getting into a slapstick exchange of “No it isn’t”, “Oh yes it is”, “Oh no it isn’t”, just take a step back and think . . . . . . What hasn’t this customer understood?
Obviously a major point they haven’t seen is where the value for money in your proposal is.
That’s entirely down to you – you can’t have really found out what they want and how your solution fits. Or it could be that you haven’t discovered what the budget is, or how much they typically invest in this sort of thing.
How To Avoid Objections
Often, Objections come from Features which you have suggested to your customer, either in your promotional bumf (online and offline), or during your face to face meetings.
“Of course we have a worldwide service capability” “But I don’t need that level of service, you sound too big for me”
“Naturally all our staff are highly qualified.” “Sounds like it’s going to be expensive.”
Clearly these holes are of the self-digging variety; you have only yourself to blame if you find yourself in one. If you do, then remember the golden rule when Features Dumping: STOP DIGGING!
How To Lose The Sale By Winning The Argument
Never argue with or contradict the customer. You’re not in panto, so conversations of the “You never deliver on time” – “Oh yes we do” variety aren’t much use to you or the customer.
Nor is it any good justifying to the customer why you’re too expensive, you’ll literally just confirm it to them, and at the same time alienate them because they’ve lost the argument.
The Secret To Handling Objections Is – Find Out What Is MEANT, NOT What Is SAID.
Your default stance on any Sales Objection is that the customer doesn’t mean it. So if they don’t mean it, we have to find out what they do mean. And how do we do that?
That’s right – WE ASK THEM!
You test the Objection by using your Open Questions. We always search around the Objection to see what’s behind it. Until you do this you can only assume what the real reason is, and to ASSUME makes an ASS of U and ME.
Take the Price Objection which takes many forms, one of which is “Your price is too high”. The danger of not testing this one is that you will ass/u/me you are in a negotiation and start to discount or trade. If the customer hasn’t reached this stage yet, not only do you give away margin unnecessarily, but also you STILL haven’t found out what’s really concerning the customer.
Once you’ve probed it a couple of times with your Open Questions and there’s definitely nothing lurking then you can safely go into the negotiation phase with your conscience clear.
How To Get The Customer To Answer Their Own Objection
This is the golden rule, firmly rooted in the psychology of selling. If YOU explain something to the customer they might not believe you. But if THEY come up with the explanation themself they’ll definitely accept it.
And you do this by feeding the question back to the customer to get them to think it through. It’s called Guided Discovery, and it’s one of the sales techniques adapted from language teaching.
This sophisticated yet simple methodology has four advantages:
It takes the pressure off you
The customer persuades themself
The customer gets the answer they want
YOU stay in CONTROL
As in all your face-to-face interactions it’s the way you say things that matters, even more so when you’re feeding Objections back to the customer. You must avoid seeming evasive, like a politician.
So there’s really no reason to be frightened of Objections. They are a natural part of the sales process. Old school sales techniques prescribed learning by heart all the possible sales objections with the appropriate response. (You can still hear this nonsense coming out of call centres today). That’s like giving someone a fish and feeding them for a day.
The right sales technique is to find out what an Objection really means by using Open Questions.
Learn how to fish and you’re fed for life.
To your Objection Handling success!