How to handle a sales objection more effectively
You have just met with a prospective buyer only to find they raised an objection.
What went wrong so quickly?
Most people think that there are only two skills you need as a salesperson. One is to be able to handle objections and the other is to close a sale. That’s where most salespeople come unstuck, it’s not the case at all. You need a few more skills than that, the first being the ability to form a relationship with your prospect by establishing rapport and building credibility. Secondly, you have to able to uncover a prospect’s needs through effective questioning and active listening. Thirdly, is to follow a proven sales process like the Bi-Sell-Cycle™.
Why? Because objections usually come towards the end of a sales process if you have followed the buying and selling cycles in unison. Yes they can come at the beginning, usually it’s because the prospective customer doesn’t like you and doesn’t want to deal with you or they genuinely don’t have a need for your products or services.
Wait – there’s more!
Buyers are programmed to object!
If you were buying a $10,000 car and it had a few bumps and bruises on it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t buy the car! You would probably use this as an excuse to negotiate the price. People are programmed to object for various reasons. It’s human nature. Your role is to ask questions to find out what those reasons are.
There are only four reasons a prospect might raise an objection.
- They are not interested
- It’s a tactic or ploy
- It’s a misunderstanding
- Its genuine
Not Interested objection
If a prospect is genuinely not interested, they either don’t have a need or you haven’t uncovered their needs. It means for them there is no tension for them to buy. Prospective buyers are motivated to buy for two reasons, to either avoid the pain of a problem getting worse or to gain rewards by realizing an opportunity. If you don’t know what their problems or opportunities are, then you won’t know what their target goal is. If you don’t know what they are looking to achieve, then you have nothing to sell against.
The second reason a buyer may not be interested is that they don’t like you or trust you. You haven’t managed to establish a relationship with them or built rapport. Building rapport is a critical step to being in a position to sell to a prospective buyer. People do not buy from people they do not like. If this happens, you must spend more time making a meaningful connection with the prospect.
Tactic or Ploy objection
Let’s face it, we all want a bargain and if we can get someone to discount their price, we will. Buyers are the same. Sometimes when they raise a price objection, it’s not because they won’t buy from you, they are simply using this as a tactic or ploy to get you to lower your price. Take the car example above, a few bumps and bruises on a car doesn’t mean you won’t buy it, it just gives you bargaining power to buy the car at a discounted price. Raising a price objection is often a test to see what you will do.
Don’t be tempted to discount, check out the objection first. You might simply just ignore it or laugh it off or say something like “What is it about the price that concerns you?” That simple question helps you get to the bottom of what is really bothering the prospect which could be as simple as they don’t have the budget or they are not the decision maker.
Sometimes an objection is purely a misunderstanding. The buyer might have a misconception about what your products or services do, it’s a simple misunderstanding. If this is the case, it should be relatively easy to handle such an objection by clearing up the misunderstanding. You could use testimonials of happy customers, reports or other evidence to overcome this objection.
You do need to be sensitive in handling this kind of objection. Don’t whatever you do say to a prospect “No your wrong, that’s not the case at all!” No one likes being told they are wrong, especially not a prospective buyer. This could be like waving a red rag to a bull. It immediately breaks trust and rapport.
A Genuine objection
There are times when a buyer’s objection is genuine meaning you cannot provide the product or service that’s right for them. This in itself doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t close the sale. If this happens, focus on your strengths and how you add value. It could be that other providers can’t genuinely satisfy their needs either. In many cases the prospect may have to compromise on the solution.
The objection handling process
If you come up against an objection, there is a proven process to follow that will help you overcome them.
- Listen to the objection all the way through. Do not interrupt the prospect or jump to conclusions.
- Cushion your response with a softener like “ah huh I see your point” or “umm… I hear what you are saying.” A softener acts like a cushion and keeps the prospect onside. It lets them know you heard them without actually disagreeing with them. It allows them to relax knowing you are not going to argue with them.
- Next smoke out the objection to find out exactly why they raised the objection in the first place. You want to find out more before making an assessment as to which of the four main objections they are raising. The way to do this is to ask more in-depth questions to refine exactly what the objection is and the reasons behind it. For example, “What is it about the price that concerns you?” Also follow up with Apart from price, do you have any other concerns?” This question smokes out all and other concerns the buyer has and it allows you to isolate what their real concern is.
- It’s time to assess which of the four categories the main objection falls into. Once you have your answer you can then convert it into an agreement to move forward.
- Once you have assessed and isolated the objection, you can then provide the appropriate remedy.
Handling price objections
You are always going to get price objections. If they raise a price objection, ask “What is it about the price that concerns you?” They might say for instance, “You are too expensive?” in which case you would respond by saying, “We certainly do provide a great product or service. Apart from price, do you have any other concerns?” You are trying to smoke out if this is their only concern. If not, then respond by saying, “So what you want to know is what makes our product or service better?” You can then launch into your value proposition or demonstrate to the prospect how you deliver value over your competitors.
|Listen||Prospect: “Your price is expensive”|
|Cushion||You: “Umm I understand….. we certainly provide a great service with excellent after sales support.”|
|Smoke Out||You: “Apart from the price do you have any other concerns?”|
|Prospect: “Not really, it’s just that your competitors are cheaper.”|
Assess and Diagnose
|You: “So what you want to know is what makes our service better value, is that correct?”|
|Remedy||You: “What our clients have told us, while our service appears more expensive our after sales support is cheaper than our competitors which means you save money in the long run because we get it right up front.”|
Be prepared to deal with the most common objections
You know there are certain objections prospects will always raise other than price. Brainstorm what your most common objections are and be prepared to demonstrate why the prospect should by from you. Here’s an example.
|Listen||Prospect: “I am happy with our current provider.”|
|Cushion||You: “Umm I hear what you are saying….”|
|Smoke Out||You: “Apart from being happy with your current provider, do you have any other concerns?”|
|Prospect: “No it’s just that you don’t provide after sales support.”|
|Assess and Diagnose||You: “So what you want to know is do we provide after sales support, is that right?”|
|Remedy||You: “We do provide after sales support at no charge for the first year. The reason we do this is that we like to ensure that you are totally happy with our service first. This not only saves you money, we get it right up front.”|
Don’t be bowled by the obvious ball.
Make sure you follow the 10 step sales process which will help eliminate objections being raised in the first instance. Don’t be bowled by the obvious ball and prepare responses to the most common objections you are likely to come up against.
On a final note
An objection is a sign the prospect is lost in the buying and selling process. Handle the objection by following this simple process and you are more likely to close more sales, more often and for more.
In A Nutshell
Objections are often a sign post that the prospect is lost the in the buying and selling process.
- Listen to the objection all the way through
- Cushion the objection with a softener like ummm, ah huh
- Smoke out the real objection then refine, isolate and convert it
- Assess which of the four main objections it is: not interested, tactic, misunderstanding or genuine
- Apply a remedy against the diagnosis
- Not interested – go back to the buying and selling cycle
- Tactic – laugh it off or ignore it
- Misunderstanding – clear this up
- Genuine – focus on the value you offer