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Objection handling: How to slam them out of the park



Objections: The biggest fear for rookie sellers


We have seen them in movies, we have thrown them ourselves, maybe we got some thrown on us. You have a deal going well, you are floating in that room captivating the customer more by the second.


Then…it happens:


“You know this all sounds great, but I don’t have the budget.”

“I like this, but I am not sure how the wife would feel about it.”

“This seems good, but I don’t have the staff to run such complex software.”


The bubble seems to burst (it doesn’t have to If you run your shit right.)


Objections don’t have to be so scary, they are a natural part of sales. Today I want to give you an overview of objection handling:


1. How to proceed to minimize the number of objections you receive

2. The simple 3-step process that you MUST do every time you face one

Bonus: Turning an objection into an opportunity



What are objections?


Let’s start by talking about what objections are. To put it simply, they are doubts and concerns that must be addressed before a sale can be made.


Can sales be made without PROPERLY handling objections? - SOMETIMES, BUT THEY OFTEN LEAD TO BIGGER HEADACHES:


-Poor product matches due to lack of objections explorations

-Lack of results

-Cookie cutter offering vs. tailored

-Buyer feeling manipulated

Neither one of those is good. They go against basic sales principles (LINK TO SALES 101).


Now, objections will come naturally, but there are ways to control them.



How To Minimize Objections as Much as Possible

Objection handling is VITAL, and I will cover it in depth. However, before I talk about how to address objections, I want to discuss ways in which you can reduce the frequency and severity of the objections you face.


It all comes down to one concept: DO YOUR HOMEWORK


A good amount of the sales process happens before you even talk to the customer:



1. Research


When you are looking through your territory, every client is different:


-Different budget

-Different industry

-Different needs

-Different history


It is vital that you research this thoroughly. Obviously, you won’t know everything and you will need to confirm everything as you proceed (assuming is deadly in sales.) Having said that, the last thing you want to do is go in pitching a product that If you had done your research, it would have been obvious they don’t need.


At best, you will face push back as you redirect your approach.

At worst, the client will dismiss you as unprepared and face an UPHILL battle.



2. Listen then plan, not the other way around


Many salespeople (I have been guilty of this too.), go in with a RIGID game plan:

“They are running on old technology and their processes are inefficient. I will just hype up our cloud, then upsell them some Analytics and BOOM! Deal closed”


There is nothing wrong with having client knowledge (In fact, that is ideal.) However, going in with the mindset of the client confirming your hunch can backfire. What you want to do, is talk to the client about:


-Their goals and what you know

-Ask them to fill in the blanks

-Then talk about ways your company can fit in



Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario:


The call gets started, and then the clients drop the bomb “Look your cloud looks innovative, BUT due to security policies due to some scares, we can’t migrate to the cloud yet.”


Two things can happen:


1. If you are the rigid seller I mentioned, you will feel like someone pulled the rug from underneath you. Many will mistakenly continue pushing cloud, pressuring the client when he can’t do much about the policies. Some experienced reps might be able to salvage a follow-up call with the new info, but many might blow the deal right there.


They will face objection after objection because they are pushing a deal that is:

a). Not feasible

b). Not a priority



2. You could redirect according to the client and their true needs. Yes, the cloud strategy you had goes out the window, but the deal is not over. Ask them about what environments they were exploring, what their goals are, etc.


As you do so, you can begin to create a strategy based on FACTS rather than hunches. This approach is significantly less likely to receive as much push-back because it’s client-centric as opposed to seller-centric.


3. Always Tie Features to Benefits


It’s normal. We are selling a cool innovative product, and we are excited to tell clients all about it.


However, it often goes VERY WRONG.


We go on a rant, telling the client EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR SOLUTION:


-“We were ranked a leader in Cloud by Gartner”

-“This machine can handle 3x more loads.”

-“We offer this app on your phone.”


Unfortunately, that seems like techy flexing. Unless the client is OBSESSED with your company, that won’t do much.


Objections will follow:

“Ok, why should I care?”

“Your product seems cool, but I am not sure about it.”

“It just seems overpriced (More on that below.)”


This is not surprising, you didn’t really tie it back to their goals. Why should they care about what you have to say If you haven’t acknowledged their goals?

Don’t get me wrong, the information is good, just not in the right context. Let’s look at ways to improve the statements above:


“As a company ranked a leader in Cloud by Gartner, I am confident we can work with you in this partnership to achieve the efficiency metrics you discussed in our first meeting.”

“This machine can handle 3x more loads than your current machine, while costing the same price to operate as your current machine, helping you achieve the production goals you have without blowing the budget we discussed.”

“We offer this app on your phone, that way you can have access to your office, outside your office.”


These are just examples of simple tweaks where you can tell the clients the value your product brings in a more efficient way. The difference with this approach is that by explaining the value in the features, you leave less room for them to hesitate on proceeding with the sales cycle.



Now, having said that, even If you do things right, you will still face some objections. You want to make sure you address them properly.


How To Actually Handle Objections


Objections will come either way. They will be big, they will be small. Each objection is a different monster. However, they can mostly fit into a uniform approach for resolution.


Most top sales players have their own version of it, but it comes down to 3 basic pillars:


1. Clarify

2. Respond

3. Confirm


This can be a 30-second process, or a 2-hour process, depending on the objection. However, I would argue ANY objection can be addressed with this process.


Here is a breakdown:


1. Clarify:


Now, the gut reaction to handling an objection is to immediately defend your position or answer the concern directly.


However, true to our human nature, many business failures stem from communication.


Let me give you a basic example:


The client tells you: “Your product is expensive.”


What will many reps do? They will begin talking about their financing options, throwing some discounts (which hits your commission payout.), talking about price-matching.


Yet, many walk away empty-handed. What happened there?


What If I told you that when the client said “your product is expensive” they meant “for the value you have shown me, your product is expensive.”?


Think about it:


Too expensive can mean two things:


1. You don’t think the product is worth it.


If I offer you a water bottle for $7 on the streets, you will refuse it because “it’s expensive”. You probably have the $7, but you don’t think my water bottle is worth it.


2. You don’t have the budget


If I offer you a brand new Camaro for $17k, which normally retails at $25k+, because I am closing my dealership and want to get rid of everything, but you don’t have the cash, you might say “it’s too expensive.”


Each one requires a different approach.


Going back to the initial example:


If you had merely clarified: “When you say expensive, are you talking about a concern regarding the price and ROI of the product, or a budget concern regarding the product?”


You could have found out the client still didn’t see much value in your product, at which point you can dig deeper, establish your value, and sell at full price.


2. Respond:


The name here is self-explanatory. Once you understand where the customer is coming from, you want to actually begin addressing the customer’s concerns.


There is not much science here. However, you want to make sure you don’t do some common mistakes:


1. Promising things you can’t deliver


If the client asks you If you can guarantee something, UNLESS YOU ARE 100% SURE SAY NO, obviously refer back to historical performance and numbers that back you up.


The moment you guarantee something, YOU COULD BE UNKNOWINGLY ENTERING YOUR COMPANY INTO A VERBAL CONTRACT.


My professor told me a story of a guy who worked with him. He PROMISED X workload with 1 machine. The machine only performed half the workload, and because of the laws governing the deal, IBM was contractually obligated to provide a second machine, costing hundreds of thousands, FOR FREE to meet the agreed upon workload. The guy got fired.


2. Rejecting responsibility


When you are dealing with existing clients, you may have clients bring concerns regarding previous issues they faced. “How do we know we won’t face a delay in an installation as we did in that upgrade 3 years ago.” The worst thing you can do is play the blame game.


They don’t care If Bob was supposed to do it, but he got fired and nobody could fill in for a week, etc. The best thing you can do is explain the measures that were taken to prevent the mistake from happening again and assure them they can trust you.


All it really takes is to address their concerns and be able to back up your statements. It might be a back and forth in some cases. However, If you do your homework, it tends to resolve itself as you reassure them of the value you can bring.



3. Confirm:


This is the most forgotten one of the 3.


Here is the thing, many times you will be sitting there in meetings lasting HOURS. The customer is tired, in a rush, or simply not present (mentally.) They may be nodding along and seeming to agree with you…


ONLY TO HIT YOU WITH THE SAME OBJECTION HOURS LATER.


The problem can be solved by merely CONFIRMING the issue has been cleared:


“Now did I address your concerns regarding our security, or do you have any lingering questions?”


They may follow-up on things you mentioned before: “That sounds good, but does that security feature apply only on the desktop App or is it on mobile too?”


They may hint at other concerns to dig into later: “No it sounds great. With some of the additional projects coming up, my boss wants me to be extra careful with security.” You could ask about the projects later on to see If you can find more opportunities.


Ultimately though, YOU ARE ENSURING THE OBJECTIONS WERE FULLY RESOLVED AND WON’T COME BACK AND BITE YOU.




BONUS: Turning Objections into opportunities:


Objections are the equivalent of a fastball in baseball. They can strike out an inexperienced batter…or they can be sent out of the park by a good batter.


The same can be said with objections.


Many objections are tied to back to a specific limitation or pain point. Some you can’t do much about, however, some may represent an additional selling opportunity in addition to your original deal.


Let’s look back at an earlier scenario:


The call gets started, and then the clients drop the bomb “Look your cloud looks innovative, BUT due to security policies due to some scares, we can’t migrate to the cloud yet.”


If you listen, you will find the GOLD the client just dropped.


READ THAT SENTENCE AGAIN IN BOLD AGAIN.


The client can’t move to the cloud due to POLICY (Rules he can’t change as opposed to an opinion, which you could work more with.)


However, LOOK AT THE WHY:


“Security policies due to some scares…”


In other words, security is a BIG CONCERN. They might not be a good fit for a cloud deal, but they clearly showed a need for SECURITY.


Ask them about their security infrastructure, get details If possible about those “scares”, dig into those points.


If done right, you will be on the same page as the client, resulting in a completely new sales opportunity, more than likely facing significantly fewer objections.


That was it for this week!


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