Is any prospect in their right mind going to be honest with you, knowing that you have been trained to overcome objections and not take no for an answer? Instead of being open and honest, the prospect avoids bringing up real concerns. Needless to say, this mentality doesn’t do a lot for creating a partnership or a relationship. It also gets a lot of salespeople into chase mode, where they end up pursuing a customer who is not interested.
Here’s a novel idea. Don’t try to overcome objections—ask questions that will bring them up. Conduct this exercise with yourself or with your sales team. Write down all the reasons a prospect doesn’t move forward with you. Here are the typical objections our clients hear from prospects:
> They believe it will be a hassle to switch vendors.
> Your company is not as well branded as the competition.
> They can possibly do the work internally instead of outsourcing it.
> They have a very limited budget.
> The timing is bad.
> They have an existing vendor relationship.
Ask yourself when you would like to find out about these objections: before or after you spend time writing a proposal? Of course, most salespeople answer that they would prefer to uncover deal breakers before writing a proposal. Now ask yourself the next question, when do you find out about these objections—before or after writing a proposal? Fifty percent of the time, the answer we hear from salespeople is that they find out after writing a proposal. Wow, what a waste of time!
Many salespeople initially push back on this concept, fearing that bringing up an objection will plant a seed of doubt in the prospect’s mind or a reason not to do business. But here’s a sales tip: your prospect has already thought about all the objections. That’s why you keep running into these objections too late in the sales process, after you’ve submitted a proposal. You’ll close more business if you bring up an objection because you will be present to facilitate a conversation regarding concerns and misperceptions.
Keep in mind that you are setting the expectation for a partnership. This requires real-world dialogue, not superficial conversation. Put on your empathy hat and step into your prospect’s shoes. Ask questions about potential problems or stalls:
> “Joan, since this is a fairly new product, I am guessing
you might be wondering about reliability. Should we talk about this?”
> “Joan, you haven’t brought this up, so I don’t know if it’s an issue for you. Our firm is a small boutique firm and I know you are looking at some larger firms. Are there any concerns about our capability to deliver the same quality
> “Joan, you shared with me that you had a bad experience with our company five years ago. I am guessing you might be wondering if we have corrected some of those customer service issues or not. Should we talk about that?”
Don’t overcome objections: bring them up. Creating this kind of exchange will serve you well in the long run. You will be able to ask and answer questions regarding their objections, acting as an advisor, not a self-centered salesperson. To do this, it’s critical that you shift your expectations; understand that you are on an investigative, fact-finding mission rather than a close-the-deal-now mission. That is a partner mindset.
Adapted with permission from Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success by Colleen Stanley.
Optimize your sales with AMA's leading seminars.