For most sales professionals, “objection” is a nasty word, but it shouldn’t be. An objection signifies that the customer is thinking about your solution; they’re envisioning how it would work in their world.
Though they see a problem, that only means that they’re thinking critically about the solution, which means you have their attention. Moreover, if they’re vocalizing such a concern, they’ve provided the ultimate clue to eventually closing the sale by explaining where the roadblock is.
Effective sales professionals use this valuable information to resolve the objection.
Resolving an objection is different than overcoming one. Overcoming a sales objection often results in relinquishing terms to the customer and giving them what they want at your expense.
- Submitting to lower costs
- Faster implementation time
- Adding additional capabilities without increasing price
In the heat of the moment, overcoming an objection is too easy a trap. Selling is difficult, and it gets more challenging every year; therefore, rescuing the sale, even at an enormous cost, is often preferred over losing it entirely.
The mistake is thinking that only two choices exist: overcoming the objection or losing the sale.
In truth, sales professionals can pursue a third avenue by understanding the customer’s needs and concerns to resolve the objection, win the sale, and preserve its full value.
Committing to this strategy starts with an understanding of how overcoming and resolving are different.
Overcoming Sales Objections Creates Demands; Resolving Sales Objections Creates a Path to the Sale
Consider this example:
In a sales dialogue, a customer vocalizes an objection that the cost is too high. A sales professional may impulsively respond by asking, “What cost do you need?”
This response is the wrong approach.
- First, it signals a willingness on the part of the sales professional to come down in price; they’ve cracked the door, and many customers will be all too happy to open it all the way.
- Second, this question replaces one demand with another, which gets the sales professional nowhere.
Instead, a sales professional will be more successful by taking steps to understand the customer’s needs and concerns.
They could ask, “What are you comparing us to when you say that the cost is too high?”
This question is more effective than asking what cost the customer needs because it takes the customer’s generic response and attempts to clarify why they believe that the cost is too high.
With an answer to this question, a sales professional might learn that the customer thought the cost was excessive under the assumption that it had only the capabilities of similar low-cost options.
With this information, the sales professional can articulate the differentiated aspects of their solution and why they warrant a higher cost.
Overcoming Objections in Sales Leads to Defensiveness; Resolving Them Leads to Openness
Overcoming objections in sales means more than giving in. Some sales professionals attempt to overcome objections by ramming through them with a defensive posture.
In the previous example, they might respond to the customer’s price objections by defensively stating that quality carries a cost.
This position immediately turns the conversation into an adversarial exchange. A customer will take this response as a confrontational remark. Moreover, the question is leading, which, understandably, will frustrate the customer, as it’s a clear attempt to elicit a specific response.
A sales professional focused on resolving the objection will go further and explore needs.
They will follow the objection with a question about the details of what the customer needs to solve the challenge at hand. Doing so takes the conversation in a more productive direction.
The result is a conversation that keeps the sale in play.
Defensiveness only encourages the customer to walk away. If the customer has concerns about the price, it’s the sales professional’s job to understand why and illustrate the value of their solution. The reason for this approach is that quality is relative to cost.
Overcoming Objections Changes the Conversation; Resolving Them Embraces It
Objections are uncomfortable. They often occur in face-to-face meetings; there’s nowhere to hide. As a result, sales professionals, even good ones, may instinctively change the subject.
For example, a customer might call out a missing piece from a solution, a need not addressed by the proposed plan.
This casts an uncomfortable light on the sales professional. With only moments to respond, they may resort to a question like, “When do you need to start implementation?”
There is a spot in the dialogue for this question, but it’s not here. This question unnecessarily complicates the issue and will likely dissuade the customer.
A better reaction is to take the opportunity to go further and understand why the customer needs this missing piece. Getting an answer to this question puts the sales professional on firm ground to discuss how they can meet the customer’s unaddressed concerns.
With a tangential question, like the one above, the dialogue veers off course while the customer’s question is left languishing.
Attempts to overcome sales objections either stop or derail the sales dialogue.
The solution is to ask more questions and understand the objection beneath the objection. Doing so requires the sales professional to have an awareness that nearly all sales dialogues surface objections and that they are not inherently bad.
Committing to this outlook helps prevent the discomfort in the moment that can easily prompt a misstep.
Click here to download Richardson’s complimentary research, “Understanding Selling Challenges in 2018”