Viewing Posts for: Anne Grason
Objections are an inherent part of a sales professional’s job. It is virtually impossible to get through a sales opportunity without hearing at least one sales objection from the customer.
It could be as simple as a direct question to gain better understanding, or it could be as subtle as trying to assess a competitor’s claim. It could also be as uncertain as trying to second guess other decision makers within the customer’s organization.
Recognizing and addressing sales objections is critical to moving opportunities through the sales pipeline. Working with customers to resolve their concerns builds trust and credibility, as sales professionals demonstrate their commitment to truly meeting customers’ needs — not just pushing their company’s products.
In today’s environment of ultra-informed buyers, customers increasingly push back against canned sales messages and unclear benefits. They test potential partners, throwing up objections that are sometimes raised only to see how the sales professional will act. They want to know their questions will be answered and their concerns addressed. As a result, sales professionals have to demonstrate their ability to handle objections and keep the dialogue moving in order to be seen as credible and valued partners.
4 Steps to Successfully Resolving Sales Objections
To do this takes four simple steps, which together form the basis of Richardson’s objection resolution model:
Neutrally acknowledge the objection Ask open-ended questions to understand what is really driving » Continue Reading.
Ever heard the saying: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”? Too often, sales professionals fear objections. More savvy professionals invite customer objections so they can resolve them in a consultative manner, which helps to strengthen their solutions and the relationships overall. In other words, objections are second chances to create value for your clients or prospects.
Customer Objections can take many forms:
“I am happy with my current provider.” “Your solution is too expensive.” “We’re looking for someone who specializes in our area.” “Your performance has not been consistent.”
There are skills that can be used to make these objections work in your favor.
First, acknowledge and empathize with customers without agreeing. Don’t repeat negative words or concepts — “Yes, we are very expensive, but …” — instead, connect with customers by letting them know they’ve been heard — “I hear that you are concerned with budget …”
Next, use open-ended questions to identify the real issues. Then, tailor your responses to those issues, answering the customer’s true concerns. Be specific and concise.
Get Client’s To Share Their Objections With You
Some clients also confuse objection and confrontation, preferring not to voice any complaints. While the resulting conversation might be more pleasant, the outcome for the sales professional is bound to be disappointing. You can’t respond to or resolve an issue if you don’t know it’s a concern.
At every point along the way, check in with the » Continue Reading.
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 » Continue Reading.
In my previous posts — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process and Dynamic Sales Process Leads to Dynamite Results — I talked about the value of a dynamic sales process that helps sales professionals pursue opportunities in an optimal way.
In this post, I take the discussion a step further by talking about validation of the sales process. After all, if your sale process isn’t valid, if it doesn’t reflect the way your sales team should be pursuing opportunities, or if it doesn’t engender confidence about opportunities in the pipeline, then it really doesn’t matter if the salesforce uses it or not.
There are several ways to validate a sales process, and the one I can speak to most effectively is the methodology we use here at Richardson when creating a customized and dynamic process for clients. Over four to six weeks, we collaboratively work through a multiphase methodology:
Phase 1: Data Collection – We begin by meeting with the company’s top performers, sales leaders, and other stakeholders who can provide insights into the sales or account management cycle. Phase 2: Development of the Branded Sales Process – We develop a customized sales process that aligns with the company’s sales cycle and buying patterns, and we map it out in a matrix that identifies specific accountabilities. Phase 3: Validation and KPI Phase – We validate the sales process itself with line stakeholders in a workshop » Continue Reading.
In my previous post — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process — I talked about the different types of sales processes that companies have, if they have one at all.
In this post, I’ll add some proof points that speak to the value of using a dynamic sales process within your organization.
In my current role, I sit in countless interviews with top-performing sales professionals while in the process of working with companies to develop their own customized and dynamic sales processes. I get to hear what those who excel do and do well to get results, and these approaches become part of that company’s dynamic sales process. What they do might also be considered best practices that can be adapted and more broadly applied.
For example, in a recent interview, one top performer talked about considering not just his external clients but his internal ones as well. Imagine that! These were the company’s experts who he would be touching base with for their input and feedback as he assessed the prospect’s needs and his potential solution. He said that most sales professionals tended to look at their sales organization and the prospect’s organization, but there was great benefit in developing relationships with internal sources who might support the sale or provide key insights. His recommendation as a best practice: identify internal experts who should be a part of the process.
Whether or not this » Continue Reading.
What do you think is the intent of your company’s sales process? Maybe I should step back and ask: does your company even have a sales process?
What I’ve found is that many clients interpret the purpose of a sales process to be overcoming objections or outlining the skills necessary to close a sale. Those certainly are elements of a sales process, but the real value comes from an overall framework for pursuing opportunities — beginning with initial research and ending with negotiation, closing, and expanding the relationship. In essence, the sales process is really a pursuit process.
In many companies, if there is any kind of sales process at all, it’s usually random or informal, and few people follow it consistently. Some individual sales professionals may have their own processes, relying on tried-and-true formulas that they’ve used throughout their careers, but there isn’t a single process that is followed by everyone in the company or is based on outcomes that have been proven to be successful.
Some companies do have formal sales processes, but they may be so rigid that few stick with them in practice; instead, the process might become a reference or a template for adding opportunities to the pipeline.
Then, there’s the dynamic sales process, which provides both structure and latitude for sales professionals to determine where they are in the pursuit of an opportunity, how to move to the next steps, and how to » Continue Reading.
Only 17 percent of salespeople get a second sales meeting
Here’s the bad news: only 17 percent of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive, according to Forrester Research.
The good news is that you can improve your chances of getting a second meeting through preparation and demonstrating your credibility in the first meeting. If you are lucky enough to get into the executive suite, you have to balance your strategy of question-led and insight-led dialogue to create “aha!” moments for the client, proving that you do indeed have a deep understanding of their business.
The first step is to determine, in advance of the meeting, what you’d like to happen at its conclusion. It’s not always going to be a sale; it might be to have another meeting. The way that you build that expectation up front for yourself and communicate it early in the meeting can be an important move.
Be aware that executives will often spend the first few minutes of a sales meeting trying to determine whether you have earned your right to be a part of the conversation regarding whatever initiative is on the table. So, if you begin by being too product-focused or talking only about yourself and your company, most executives will consider that a deal-breaker. You have to demonstrate from the start that you know enough about their business and their industry to be credible, insightful, and a valuable partner, » Continue Reading.
Improve Your Next Sales Call
Many people use slides in their client presentations but few use them effectively. Slides should be a tool to support your message — not a crutch to help you get through the talk. Anything you put up on the screen should be there to back up what you’re saying so that the dialogue continues and doesn’t go off track.
It’s important at the beginning of any sales presentation to put your remarks into context. Typically, your audience will want to know two things: 1) Who are you? and 2) Why are we here? So, you need to communicate these two points briefly, and then ask their permission to continue on the agenda that you’ve just laid out.
You also need to ask for input periodically, checking to make sure everyone’s questions and desired outcomes are being addressed. Even though you are the one making the presentation, no meeting should ever be a monologue. Whether you’re meeting with one person or a group, every interaction should be a dialogue.
To make sure it’s an effective dialogue, you have to know your audience. The conversation and sales presentation will differ depending on the level of people you’re meeting with because they care about different things. Front-line managers tend to focus on the day-to-day operations because that’s where they make their contribution. Senior executives take a broader perspective, considering how different functions can impact key areas » Continue Reading.