One of the biggest worries in sales, besides prospecting, is dealing with customers’ objections. Many people do not like dealing with objections or conflict, however, many sales people unintentionally create objections and conflict by not understanding a customer’s real needs or priorities and failing to find common ground.
Too much time and attention is spent on objections in sales meetings and sales training, rather than focusing on the skills and resources needed to help sales people eliminate objections from the sales process in the first place.
The two key strategies to eliminating the issue of objections are:
- Having a sound, logical sales communication process that sets you up to understand where a customer or prospect is coming from, what they value, what their real priorities are, and why and when they are ready to make a decision to buy; and
- A sound knowledge of your offering and how it fits or serves your market.
Utilising your very best communication skills—such as focused questioning, active listening, verifying and paraphrasing, and creative problem solving—is the key to eliminating objections and creating a dynamic, productive sales and buying experience for you and the customer.
Let’s rethink labelling every customer question or concern as an objection. A customer asking a question about your product or service, seeking further clarification on a matter, or expressing confusion over a new product are not grounds for an objection. They are merely trying to understand what you or the product/service does in more detail.
They are often trying to see if there is match between you and them. As sales people we should welcome these enquiries as the customer is fully engaged, showing interest, and seeking to find common ground as to whether to work with us or eliminate us from the equation.
The reality is if you and the customer have not found common ground or agreement on an action to move the sale forward to the next logical stage, it does not necessarily mean you have encountered an objection. It may just mean a viable sales opportunity doesn’t exist. However, if you have not listened to the customer, tried to force your ideas onto them, or tried to bully them into a sale then the customer may object—and rightly so.
Our job as sales people is to properly understand our customers, their situation, their preferences, priorities, challenges, and goals, and then to come up with viable solutions that are a win:win for both parties, or determine that a ‘no sale’ exists. Either way, everyone is in the know about what to expect which should reduce the need to object.
However, sometimes there is no simple solution to a customer’s concerns.
If you do happen to come across a real objection, here is a seven step process for handling objections:
- Deal with the objection straight away, don’t ignore it;
- Be trustworthy and empathise with feelings that are expressed. Use an appropriate manner by remaining calm, showing respect, and using positive language (talk about what can be done rather than what can’t be done);
- Utilise your most effective communication skills, remembering to actively listen, question, solve problems, avoid making personal judgments, be flexible, and work together;
- Ask questions to determine the real objection;
- Restate objections to clarify the issue and gain agreement from the customer that this is their real concern;
- Work towards seeing the situation from the customer’s point of view; and
- Select a course of action which may include negotiating a resolution.
In short, the key to handling and eliminating objections effectively can only occur when open communication, cooperation, and collaboration exist.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Striving to develop and deliver better sales standards and strategies to help people and businesses sell better, Sue is a sales philosopher, strategist, speaker, trainer, writer, adviser and selling better activist.