Killer cold calls (part 3) – handling objections
When sales people hear an objection, they often cringe. The very idea that a prospect could say no causes anxiety and often triggers a panic response. You instinctively defend your position and try to overcome the objection.
But what so many sales professionals fail to understand is a “no” and an objection are two very different things. The prospect needs to qualify you as a potential service provider (does you solution fulfill their needs, and do you have the requisite integrity, knowledge and capacity to deliver). These concerns manifest themselves as objections, which are therefore merely requests for further information.
Rather than diving ‘head first’ to overcome the objection; you listen carefully instead, and give the other person your full attention. Now you’re sharing the process with them. You’re interested in what they’re thinking. You’re building trust, and you’re showing that their issues are important to you.
Before addressing objections, what do you say if the prospect requests more information? Your response needs to have the following structure:
- Outline what you do eg ”Optisell is a full service business development consultancy”
- Detail how you differ eg “we believe sustainable performance development can only be achieved with an integrated approach addressing strategic, structural, operational and cultural issues”
- Detail the benefits you provide eg “we streamline sales processes, enable visibility of performance data and build capability of sales staff”. This supports the value statement made in your introduction.
What do you do if you are confronted with an objection? Following is the recommended process for handling such cases:
Pause and think – Not responding immediately is critical to maintaining control, you need time to collect your thoughts and gain composure.
Clarify – By seeking clarification of the objection you uncover the prospect’s true concerns. Many objections are veiled by statements like “I don’t have the time” , “I’m not interested” etc; which hide the real issues. When you ask questions, it shows you are interested in helping them through their problem, and in turn builds trust.
Acknowledge/Empathise – Once you have clarified their objection, acknowledge (with empathy) their concern. Prospects are much more likely to buy if they feel you truly understand their concerns.
Answer objection – Only now, do you address the objection itself and try to offer a solution. Utilise the information gained earlier along with an appropriate objection handling technique. Apply it but don’t force it, it has to be a good fit.
Pay-off – Round off your counter-argument with a value statement
Following are sample scripts for common objections. Modify them to suit your industry, company profile and personality type.
“I’m not interested”
In the majority of cases this objection is a deflection which masks other concerns, the best response is a request for clarification eg. “John, can you tell me what aspect of our service is not of interest to you?”
Keep the customer engaged until you uncover their real concern.
Here you need to determine the validity of the objection by offering alternate meeting dates (which are less immediate). “I appreciate that you’re busy John, I’m busy too. I’m happy to schedule a meeting at your convenience. How’s your calendar look end of this week … or is next week better”.
“I’m happy with my current supplier”
“When you say you’re happy with your current supplier, may I ask what they are doing that you really like”. This initiates a discussion on their needs and shows the prospect you are interested in helping them solve a problem or meet a need.
“I can understand your position … many of our best clients weren’t looking for change. However they found it useful to have a look at what we do and see how it complements what they’re already doing. They’re now enjoying significant benefits resulting from our programs”.
“Your price is too high”
This objection shows the prospect does not understand the value of your product.
Firstly clarify “John, can you tell me why you believe our products are too costly” Often a vague response follows requiring you to guide the conversation towards value eg “If you can, help me understand how you compare suppliers”.
When ‘value’ is adequately discussed, follow with a statement which demonstrates how you differ eg. “We believe sustainable sales performance can only be achieved with an integrated approach addressing strategic, structural, operational and cultural issues … I am certain I can demonstrate value in our services, your current provider is not able to deliver”.
“I’ve already spent my budget”
With the exception of government departments, corporate budgets, although pre-allocated are open for executive review. Your goal is to provide compelling value in immediate action.
Clarify with “can you help me understand your budget process and allocation for this area”, the more you learn about the prospect the easier it will become to overcome objections.
Provide a value statement and create urgency eg. “John, we streamline sales processes, enable visibility of performance data and build capability of sales staff … and for this month only are offering a complete diagnostic of sales performance at no charge or obligation”. By offering something of value without charge or obligation you negate the budget issue and create urgency.
Objections mean simply one thing, the prospect does not know enough about you or the value your company provides in satisfying their needs. The more you uncover their needs and help them understand the value of your products/services, the fewer objections you will face.