|A common sales situation.|
Because it has one key ingredient that other sciences lack: Unforeseen objections.
The complex nature of sales objections often convinces sales representatives to view them in negative light and actually dread them to the point of paranoia. But here’s the irony, sales objection are one of the best things to happen to a sales professional. Scoffing? Don’t be. Here’s why:
Sales objections signifies…
- The prospect has spent time identifying relevant and core issues to be solved for making a final buying decision.
- The prospect is really interested in your product/service and would like to delve deeper.
1. Lack of knowledge related to product or service offered.
In this case, the prospect is not aware of the product or service offerings, features, benefits etc.
Example: A customer may not be aware of an insurance policy plan and its benefits.
2. Specific points like price, features etc.
This means that the prospect has concerns related to ‘specific’ points that are hampering the buying decision.
Example: Your product price is much higher than other providers.
3. Unknown agenda
This objection arises when the prospect is not giving concrete reasons for not buying your product or service.
Example: Prospect has already decided on a particular product or service but just needs proposals from multiple vendor as a process compliance.
Perception plays an important part in sales objections. The prospect can try to influence the sales negotiations with his prejudices or bias.
Example: With many hacking episodes, I don’t think putting data on the cloud is secure.
5. Gap in understanding of customer needs
Sales people may not have done enough home work about the prospect’s actual needs and wants. Thus, the prospect may dilly dally as the purchase is not priority enough.
Example: Sales person is offering the wrong product to the customer.
It is the prerogative of great sales professional to distinguish between real and false business objections. Real business objections tend to revolve around pain areas and false business objection involve stalling for time or gather vendor intelligence.
Better yet, pre-empt real objections by doing a very thorough research on your prospect. That way, you will be better prepared with your responses and won’t be taken by surprises.
Here are five steps to handle sales objection.
Step #1 Express Gratitude
An objection is actually an opportunity to put the best foot forward. Thus, when a prospect raises an objection, be polite and express gratitude. Giving thanks will calm your nerves and you can move along the conversation pleasantly. It will also serve to diffuse tensions and proceed in a more amiable note.
Example: "Thank you for raising this valid point."
Step #2 Employ the APAC model
APAC model stands for: A- Acknowledge; P- Probe; A- Answer; C-Close
This model is known as one of the most powerful method by sales professionals to overcome objections.
A – Acknowledge
It is very important not to side step the objection. Hear out the objection and make it seem that you believe that their point is valid. However, do not agree with them. In a non-argumentive manner, phrase your response with logical responses. Do not immediately counter with a denial, which can lead to arguments.
Example: "Yes, that’s a fair point."
Probe deeply as to what motivates the prospect into making such an objection (Refer types of objections). By asking open ended questions, you may find the most important area to focus for your responses. Empathizing with the customer may give you time to prepare your response. You may ask additional questions for clarifications.
Example: "Can you please explain it further."
After acknowledging and asking questions, answer their objections. Make them understand that their objections are a smokescreen towards long term benefits. Allay their fears and back up your response with case studies or known references. Specific examples will help. Answering objections also gives you an extra chance to pitch your product/service and show it in the best possible light.
Example: “I understand that this plan seems like a big investment. But it is certainly worth the efforts, as I shall demonstrate now”.
Closing an objection is important so that it never recurs again. You can use closing statements like
Example: "Is there any other concern that you would like me to address before I ask for the purchase order."
If the objections still persists after all logical responses, you can use redirection techniques like
Example: "That is an interesting point. Let me show the different features that our customers use to address similar concerns."
Step #3 Empathize with the prospect
It is human nature that people love others who agree with them. Agreeing or simply putting yourself in their shoes proves that you are a prospects ally and not their enemy. Along with gratitude, emphasizing with the prospect will show the potential sale that you are not in the discussion only for your benefit.
Example: "Others also had the same concern as yours."
Step #4 Give insights to educate the prospects
A prospect should be able to see benefits to be in the negotiating table with you. When you identify the business pain area (which can mean lost revenue, higher downtime, customer reluctance, employee turnover etc.), make an effort to quantify the benefits that your product/service offers. By giving quantifiable insights, you assure the prospect that your product/service is worth the investment.
Example: "We have started using lighter and faster servers that are 45% cost efficient."
Step #5 Back up with customer references
Giving proof is the most reliable way to overcome objections. Submit industry research, analyst quotes, and success case studies to prove why your product/service works. You should make a target of learning about at least one customer success story every month. Giving leading industry influencer insights about your product/service, backed by well documented case studies through CRM solutions, will increase the prospect’s trust in your product/service. Always remember that a strong trusting partnership will definitely result in increased sales and retention numbers.
Example: "Allow me to present this success story which had the same concern as yours."
Listed below are few probable objection scenarios and what your ideal response should be. Use them to practice and refine your responses.
Scenario #1 "I am simply not interested."
Respond by a short and interesting anecdote about how a competitor or other players in the industry of the prospect benefited by using your product/service.
Scenario #2 "I don’t have the budget at the moment."
Quickly respond by highlighting how much your product/service can save money for the prospect in the long run. Quantify as much as possible.
Scenario #3 "I don’t have a requirement now."
Respond by acknowledging and ask open ended questions to better gauge the needs. Take care not to be too pushy.
Scenario #4 "It’s too bothersome to setup"
Often clients may be afraid of the sheer scale of your product or setup. If that is the case, offer to setup (within the framework of your organization).
Scenario #5 "We are satisfied with our existing product/service."
Enlighten the prospect with the latest feature or industry trends. You can even offer a discount for cost savings.
Scenario #6 "We have a better quotation"
Don’t give up immediately. Give extra discount, referral codes, free delivery or extra warranty.
Scenario #7 "I haven’t reached a decision yet."
This situation occurs due to an overload of information. Discard the superfluous and narrow down your product to specific three points and focus on the best features. You can venture to give out personal opinion if the client asks.
Scenario #8 "We will think about it."
Close the negotiation by providing facts or figures with which the prospect with different vendors. Probe for exact date and time for follow up.
Scenario #9 "This is not exactly what we want."
If it’s a service, custom your offerings according to the clients requirements. If it’s a product and out of stock, offer the closest approximation.
Scenario #10 "The product/service is just not for us"
Back up your response with proofs, success stories and assure the prospect that you are capable enough to replicate the successes.
Wrong approaches to sales objections:
1. Failure to adapt according to the situation will result in comical responses for objections. Having a plan is very good, but never have it written in stone.
2. Never pretend that you know everything. In case you aren't aware of the answers, ask for more time politely.
3. Never do all the talking, allow the prospect to put additional comments as well.
4. Never over-hype your product/service, the prospect will find out the truth sooner or later.
5. Never assume the general meaning of words, your definition and the prospect’s decision may be miles apart.
6. In case the price is too high for the prospect, never insult him by asking “So you are not after quality right?”
7. Never avoid the issue, probe the origin of an objection.
8. Never pass the buck, tell them what you can do to make the issue right.
Managing objections is a fine art and requires consistent practice. Follow the above method with the help of CRM solutions and enjoy a significant increase in your qualified leads. Showcase your business in the best possible manner and address all real business pain areas with confidence and tact.