As Bo Bennet is often attributed as saying, “An objection is not a rejection; it is simply a request for more information.” Make sure you are listening and providing that information — not just rushing to the close.
“Customer Objection” is one of the key steps in a successful sale, while customer objections come at various sales stages the most critical one is raised at the far end of the transactions, what makes these objections so critical is, sales professional mindset is racing towards closing the transactions & even slight mishandling of the objections can alter the customer decision to unfavorable outcome.
While our b2b sales consulting sessions we enable our client’s Sales team to handle the far end objections with patience & caution to ensure the customer is confident & comfortable in taking a favorable decision.
Taking a quick peek at customer mind at this stage will lead to 2 key drivers, “Rational” & “Emotional”.
Rational drives ensure that customer is assured on your problem discovery, solution image & value.
While emotional drivers also needs to be addressed which could be aspiration/Pride, recognition, fear/prevention etc.
Both drivers lead to building trust & credibility without which even if other parameters are aligned the decision can be adverse.
Objections can be in many forms & shapes but most of them are driven by lack of Need, Money/ Resources, Trust & Urgency. What makes objection handling challenging is cover under which the objections are raised, with key cover points being price, product fit, competitor & sometimes just a brush off.
While handling any of the customer objections great sales professionals use an overarching framework, the key steps in this framework are Listen, acknowledge, reconfirm, explore, empathize & Respond.
Listen to customer objection intently, we all love people who hear us out & respond rather than react.
Acknowledge & Reconfirm – Acknowledge the customer challenge, you can also reconfirm the key challenge to ensure the customer feel heard, let them know you are there to help & not to sell.
Explore & Empathize – Balance enquiry & advocacy, while its important to uncover the real objection, its equally important to let the customer know that you agree with the concern being raised & how genuine the concern is in your view.
Respond – Once you have clear problem identification, offer a recommendation on how the challenges can be solved sometimes with options & pros & cons. This is your chance to build trust & create value.
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Let’s go back to 4 basic drivers of objection & see the ways a sales professional can handle these objections keeping the above stated overarching framework in place.
1. Lack of Need
Sales professionals need to judge this dispassionately & also leverage the qualification matrix to ensure the lack of need is identified early in the transaction. When the need is identified, always focus on outcomes & not process.
Knowledge of customer business is an asset to understanding customer needs & intent to act.
2. Lack of Money/Resources
Though most common, this needs to be ascertained with great clarity & caution as this can erode your transaction value quickly.
- Check with customers with questions like “what if money was no object”, will the solution address your concern, look for resonating solution image.
- Avoid slipping on the price comparison slope, this will only drop your price & your value.
3. Lack of Urgency
It’s important to showcase the impact of your solution & the value it brings, it can be showcased.
- Rationally via ROI, cost reduction etc, tangible financial outcome helps
- Emotionally via recognition project will drive & even fear of losing credibility or prevent/avert a crisis.
4. Lack of Trust
Trust ensures the buyer believes your solution image & its delivery capability. Trust can be managed by
- Showing your interest & sharing your domain knowledge with the customer, some key industry insights can be of help.
- Balance of interest, enquiry & advocacy – while you show interest in customer business issues by asking pertinent questions, sharing your success stories in resolving similar concerns can be helpful in building trust.
Objections are integral part of the sales process while they are great opportunities to learn about customer & move forward in the relationship, any objections left unaddressed always come back to haunt later & often cost deals as opinions get more firm with time.
Great sales professional understands that, we live with consequences of choices we make & each time we make a choice, we evaluate options, the methodology of making a choice is very personal & is driven with comfort of the consequence of choice being made, this insight enables a controlled response & understanding of customers behavior the way it is, making each transaction different in nature.