This post is part of an 8-part series on the steps of the sales process. Click here to see the full series.
Answering Objections – The Sixth Step of the Sales Process
The best time to address objections is long before they come up. What does that mean?
A friend of mine put it well when he said that the offering of a proposal is a line of demarcation. As soon as there is an offer and a price on the table, so to speak, everything changes.
I fully agree with that. Before an offer is on the table, questions are questions. After a proposal is on the table, questions are objections, and they have a much more aggressive feeling to them. There is a price negotiation lurking in the background and the struggle for a deal that may or may not be closed. Sounds like an exciting sport, but if you are like me, I would rather just do a professional job and get the deals that make sense, as easily as possible.
So how can we set that up?
If you think about the most common objections, they are the ones that should have been answered in either Qualification or Needs Analysis:
- We don’t have the money (Qualification)
- I am not the decision-maker (Qualification)
- We’re not interested (Qualification / Needs Analysis)
- This is just not a good time for us (Qualification / Needs Analysis)
- Your price is too high (Qualification / Needs Analysis)
So then knowing what information you need to get in Qualification and Needs Analysis, not writing your Proposal until you get that information, and agreeing with the client that what you will put into the proposal is good for them allows you to avoid most objections altogether. If you are a fan of Objection handling techniques, well, there is none better than eliminating them before they come, right?
But let’s face it – some prospective customers just want to object to something for sport, so we do need to know what do to.
You can try to use objections techniques, but be careful here. If you have followed the steps in this series you have positioned yourself as a professional, consultative salesperson. Don’t screw it up now by using old techniques poorly.
Better than that is the idea of fleshing out the objection through dialogue. If you believe that you have done a good job in Qualification and Needs Analysis as described above, then it is reasonable to believe that you will be moving forward. Getting an objection at this stage is indicative of a misunderstanding, and you should work to understand what is going on. This approach will position you to talk the objection through with the client and decide together how to get around it. This is the approach most people prefer when they want to think of themselves as sales professionals, and certainly the approach most prospective customers will prefer.
To help you get into those dialogues, you might try:
Most objections are pretty common. Between your experience, your imagination and a few sales calls, you will have heard most that will ever come up. Consider what they are and prepare a response that will get you into a dialogue about the objection or past the objection. This is a great activity for a sales meeting so that you can harness the experience of your colleagues.
Say something like “oh, that is a bit of a surprise – I had the impression that we had already agreed that we were moving forward…” or “…that we already addressed that.” Then shut up and let them answer. This will only work if you actually agreed WITH THE PROSPECT that the proposal you will write is correct, so be sure to do that first. You can’t make up for a poor early effort here, but you can leverage a good early effort to keep things moving – if you did that early effort well, that is.
Quarantine the objection:
Say something like “hmmm, well, if we solved that, would you be ready to move forward?”. This way, you have a conditional agreement – just solve that one problem and the deal is done. Now you can focus on that one problem. If the answer you get is another objection, then there is a lot going on to solve – you clearly missed something along the way!
Once you have resolved all of the open questions and concerns (i.e. Objections), you can move on to Closing – getting the deal done. Click here to read about this last step of the sales process and the last post in this series on the sales process here.
Please click on the following links for more information about Objections or this link for the full list of topics in this 8-part series on the sales process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site www.davidmasover.com/contact/ or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/masover/