Handling objections is often a key focus of many sales training classes. However, research indicates that sales objections are usually not good!
As reported in a landmark study, sales interactions that involved a moderate-to-high number of customer objections resulted in fewer closes. Sadly, many salespeople invest substantial time developing customer relationships only to lose the sale at the objection handling. Ineffective and dated sales techniques like defensive behaviors, saying “but” or handling objections by over-talking often contribute to losing sales.
In many selling situations, salespeople find themselves often handling objections to price. Research indicates that two-thirds of the time, price objections were simply a convenient excuse or a cover for the “real” objection. Unfortunately, many salespeople take price objections at face value and discount their price. These discounts, however, may result in lowered customer perceptions and propensity to buy on an ongoing basis.
Salespeople are often handling objections without the benefit of getting inside the buyer’s mind. Do salespeople understand why the customer is objecting? Are they personal reasons? Are they business reasons? Too often, salespeople focus on achieving their quotas without carefully considering how people make purchase decisions. Consequently, salespeople proceed too quickly and appear to be pushy. And buyers that dislike “pushy” salespeople are known to barrage their salesperson with objections.
With poor objection handling, the sales process can become a struggle instead of evolving into a pleasant partnership. Good customer relationships, built on mutual respect, can yield many benefits and result in less time spent handling objections. Indeed, if you change the way you sell to closely conform to how people buy, you will see a reduction in the number of objections. More than 80% of the objections we experience as salespeople are related to issues involving a poor understanding of the prospect or low perceptions of value. So, how can you improve objection handling?
Techniques for Handling Objections
- If an objection arises early in the sales process, respond by asking enlightened questions. These questions help prospects recognize both the gravity and urgency of their issues, thus increasing the value of your solutions. By becoming a good needs assessor, you can prevent many objections.
- List the 10 or 20 most common objections you receive and develop appropriate responses to each.
- Then, perfect your objection handling technique by practicing with a colleague, mentor or manager. Needless to say, good sales skills training programs can provide a variety of effective and non-offensive objection handling techniques.
- Next, determine which salesperson statements or behaviors, if any, typically precede each customer objection. Then evaluate the effect of eliminating some of these statements and behaviors.
- Finally, the entire sales team can track their success handling objections using specific responses and share their best sales techniques.
Price objections occurring late in the sales process are typically caused either by fear or a desire to get a better deal. Fear is emotional, not logical. Thus, traditional objection-handling techniques that rely on logic will often not work. So, draw out the real fear issues and get prospects to open up and share their emotions. Then, empathize with them and be patient while your prospects work through their fear and resistance issues.
Indeed, great salespeople receive fewer objections and are adept at addressing prospect resistance. And the best sales training programs teach a number of successful objection handling methods since no single technique is universally effective.
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Having analyzed successful sales practices at more than 250 firms over the last 20 years, we’ve seen one key practice that differentiates average sales performers from great ones–their ability to uncover and then magnify prospect/client pain (needs) to avoid sales stalls and motivate action. Indeed, any decent salesperson can sell within the customer’s time frame, educate them about their products and answer questions. But great sales performers accelerate their prospect’s buying process by resisting the temptation to talk about their products or services until they are convinced the prospect has a pressing need for them and has a clear picture of both the financial payoffs and intangible benefits.
Sales Stalls and Client Pain
In one study, prospective customers met with three salespeople selling similar products. The majority bought from the salesperson who waited the longest to discuss his or her product and who explained how specific product features addressed major sources of client pain. Judging by the tendency salespeople have to quickly engage in product conversations, many must believe the opposite–that customers buy more often from sellers who appear anxious to talk about their product and to close a “deal.” This notion is rarely true and often leads to sales stalls. In short, people generally feel most comfortable and trusting of those who have listened to them and understand their needs prior to recommending products and services. An anxiousness to “get the sale” may give the appearance that the salesperson or vendor may be hard up for sales or is trying to achieve their own goals without placing a high priority on satisfying each and every important customer need.
Sales stalls occur, in part, due to people resisting change and avoiding negative consequences. Great salespeople help clients reduce pain and become excited by change. But this strategy is not possible when clients don’t perceive they have significant needs, and sales stalls are likely to occur. Evidence of sales stalls includes clients saying “let me think about it” or not returning calls after seeing product information or demonstrations. Fearing that the product or service may cost them rather than save them money, sales stalls occur and customers behave cautiously and negotiate more. So, what’s the bottom line? In sales, like in any exercise or sport, NO PAIN = NO GAIN !!!
All Rights Reserved. The Sales Alliance Inc. San Diego, CA
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