Anyone in sales probably knows that it is not a field for the fainthearted. If your ego bruises easily or if you take no for a final answer, then maybe selling is not for you. The longer you work as a sales professional, the more objections you’re bound to hear from prospects and customers. After all, customer objections are natural parts of the sales cycle. But objections are nothing to fear. In fact, objections should be encouraged because they allow sales professionals second chances to position their value.
Customer Objections Are a Good Thing
It is far worse when customers do not voice their objections. If, instead, they withdraw or go silent, or if they decline your proposal without a full explanation, there’s little recourse. It’s hard to probe an issue that you don’t know is a problem. There’s no natural follow-up to a lack of feedback. In other words, objections are really what I term “buying questions.”
Preparing to Overcome Customer Objections
Objections can occur at any point in the sales dialogue — from the very first meeting to exploring needs, from delivering insights to positioning solutions, and also in closing, negotiating, and following up to maintain relationships.
Part of your preparation before any sales meeting should be to anticipate objections, which could relate to any, all, or none of the following:
- Cost: upfront price or continuing expenses
- Timing: of project or budget cycle
- Implementation: complexity or any additional work required
- Operation: perceived difficulty to use or extra training required
- Support: uncertainty about the availability of ongoing help
- Resolution: unconvinced that the solution will satisfy the business need at hand
The next step is to plan your responses to probable objections — and to be prepared overcome unanticipated sales objections that arise.
The Key to Resolving Customer Objections
The key to resolving any customer objection is to first understand the real concern by employing a customer focused sales dialogue. Most of the time, the issue stems from a lack of information. If customers object to price, they may not understand the full value of the propositions. If they say they’re not ready to buy, the reasons could be anything from lack of budget left in the fiscal year to confusion about how your solution would work in their specific situations.
Whatever the objection, it is important to first acknowledge the customer’s concern. Let him/her know you are listening and you truly hear him/her. Do this in a way that doesn’t devalue your solution but will pave the way to finding out what’s behind the objection while also maintaining the relationship.
“That’s a valid concern …”
“Timing is an important consideration …”
By acknowledging and validating the customer’s concern without agreeing, it doesn’t become a showstopper. Then, gently probe what’s going on in the customer’s mind.
It’s important to encourage the customer to talk. The best way to do this is to ask open-ended questions to gather as much information as you can:
“Tell me more about why you believe this doesn’t apply.”
“Help me to understand what you were expecting.”
“What kinds of improvements would you like to see over how things operate today?”
This approach will get the customer talking and not make them feel defensive.
So the next time you are delivering a presentation or are in a meeting and you fear the Q&A that is listed next on your agenda, remember that objections provide opportunities to reinforce the benefits of your solution — and to strengthen the relationship over the long term.