The other day I noticed on Google, Sales Process images still positioning “Handling or Overcoming Objections” as a separate process step. It is located right between “Presenting your proposal” and “Close the Sale. This amazed me because apparently, many consultants and companies still suggest that a separate step needs to be completed, somewhere late in the sales process, before a deal can be closed. It is also insinuating that by overcoming the objection, you win, and the other person loses. Or, if you, as a salesperson, cannot overcome the objection, you are thrown back by the potential buyer into your sales process. Although not intended, an ‘objection’ is strong language; that’s what they use in a court case. Because of this heavy-loaded, crucial step in the sales process, traditionally, many sales organizations spend many training hours to ensure their salespeople can handle objections.
Here is the thing: The thought process of – a separate Overcoming Objections step – is outdated and does not fit the new way of selling. Instead of overcoming objections, let’s explore for a moment a different idea: Uncovering and resolving Concerns. For that, we need to understand better what buyers think. Because what buyers say and think is different.
When prospects tell you: “Can you call me back in 6 months?”, or “Now is not the right time,” what they actually think is ‘I am busy with something else that has my priority and so far you have not said anything that helps me with achieving better results. I sense you are not worth my time’. But, yah, they choose to stay polite, so they do not tell you the whole truth, and they want you to go away. The real reason for not accepting a meeting with you is their belief that this will be a waste of their time. On the other hand, if they think they would get something valuable from meeting with you, they would willingly accept your request. Anthony Iannarino, one of the leading sales bloggers of our time, gives great advice on how to anticipate concerns like these: “Why not tell them in advance your real intention? Tell them directly how you intend to create value for them during the time they give you..”.
- Lead with insights relevant to the prospect’s challenges. Ensure your contact knows right from the start that you have something to share that is of their interest
- Resolve their immediate time-concern: Tell them, “I promise, I will not waste your time.”
At the end of this post, I go through a few practical examples based on Anthony Iannarino’s advice.
Question: What is the root cause of concerns? Let’s face reality; In general, salespeople shorten the sales process by moving through the discovery phase too fast, rushing to a presentation and proposal, and asking for the business. No wonder prospects have questions and concerns. Fast is not good, and the discovery phase is not about you but about the customer.
According to Gartner, in the new way of selling, our job is more about helping customers discover something about themselves and advise them on their buying decisions. But we have to work hard for that; Thirty-three percent of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience — a preference that climbs to 44% for millennials. Why is that? There have been salespeople before you, and hence, you cannot ignore their experience so far with previous salespeople bringing not enough value to their tables. They have concerns when they are asked for their time and more meetings. So the first message is to slow down and the second to spitz your ears, listen carefully if your contact is ready to move forward. If not, they have genuine concerns that you must resolve. You got to prove them wrong that you are not one of those salespersons they based their disappointment on.
Another key learning is that concerns pop-up anywhere, not only at the end of the sales process before signing the deal; Often, they appear right at the first contact you make. In particular, when your prospect thinks, from their perspective, that there is no real reason to change. They have worked hard on choosing the right suppliers for their complex supply chain. They may not say it, but they have genuine concerns right at the beginning of your initial meeting. And in most cases, it is about allowing you time with them. You resolve these concerns by helping them gain the confidence to move forward. You need to deal with the unspoken concerns – here are a few examples:
|Potential Buyer who sees no reason to change or said “I have no time”||Salesperson|
|I wanted to let you know that what I have to share with you is worth your time.|
|It will be 20minutes; it won’t be longer than that|
|If there is a next step for us, that is great, but even if there is no next step, I promise I will not waste your time; I make it a valuable experience for both of us.|
or a bit further down in the Buying process when you ask your contact for their permission to get other stakeholders involved; Many buyers are protective and have concerns moving forward by bringing in more stakeholders
|Contacts with fear of bringing other stakeholders in||Salesperson|
|I understand, and it can get more complicated when we bring other people in|
|I thought what we discussed so far made sense to you, and you would like to explore different options|
|in my experience, when we do not bring other people in then, nothing will happen|
|How do we bring in one other person who has a stake in this and might support what we have discussed?|
The last example is worthwhile sharing with you: the price objection. There will always be stakeholders who will bring up their concerns about the money. We should treat these as real concerns instead of something we can overcome by certain closing techniques. Again what they say and what they think is different. You will hear: “Your price is higher than what we pay now” – what they think is: ‘so far, I have not heard enough value that is worth paying more for. Your price does not give me the confidence to take this to the people involved in this project”. Your contact is not convinced that a higher price will give their company the results they are looking for.’ Resolve their real concern
|Price objection = not enough value that is worth paying more for||Salesperson|
|I understand this is a concern to you|
|I may not have explained well enough the investments we do to get you the results you are looking for, and that is why our price is higher|
|Can I share more about that with you, so you are more confident moving this forward?|
I hope this is helping you to see a different perspective on ‘Handling Objections”. Potential customers don’t have objections. They have concerns. They feel anxiety about moving forward. The sooner you can uncover that, the better you can resolve their real concerns.
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