Thursday, 29 January 2015

Why should I do business with you?

Every salesperson should be able to answer this question on demand.

Consider for a moment how you would respond if a potential customer asked this question of you.

Most salespeople answer this question directly by giving the customer what they perceive to be strong reasons to do business with their company.  The mistake many people make is that they feel they need to provide an exhaustive list to convince the customer.

Take a look at the example below:

...Because we offer exceptional, award winning customer service with phone lines open from 7am to 7pm.  We have 20 years experience in this market and we also have a price match guarantee.  You will find our back up service second to none and we will provide you with a dedicated Account Manager...

This response sounds impressive in terms of quality (if true) but the salesperson has fallen into the trap of reeling off a list of reasons without knowing if any of these factors are important to the customer.

You could list 20 fantastic points or USP's about your business yet still fail to hit the right button from the customer's perspective.

To avoid the list trap there is a simple 4 step process to follow:

  1. Answer the question by telling the customer that there are a number of reasons why they should do business with your company.
  2. Select one (or maximum two) of the most impressive areas of your business and present these to your customer (tailor these to the customer where possible).
  3. Tell the customer you are interested in understanding what's vital from their perspective.
  4. Finally, ask the customer what are the most important factors that will influence their final decision.
    Customer - I have 3 companies on the shortlist, one of which is yours.  So tell me what's special about your company and why I should go with you.
    Salesperson - There are a number of reasons why you should use (our company) such as the fact that we manufacturer our entire range here in the UK and offer a 5 year guarantee on all products.  However I am more interested in finding out what the priorities are for you.  So what are the most important factors you will consider when making your final decision?
    The beauty of this type of response is that it directly answers the customer's question / challenge without boring them with a long list.
    It also throws the spotlight back on the customer and invites them to open up on their key areas of importance, thus demonstrating genuine interest in the customer.  The customer's response to this question is gold dust for the professional salesperson.  If you gain an understanding of what the customer wants and also what's important to them you are in a fantastic position to successfully present your proposition.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Handling Sales Objections

A sales objection is just that, an objection, not a complete rejection. 

Most sales people understand this principle and will view an objection as an opportunity to re-engage the customer.

In telesales however the window of opportunity is very small.  What you say and how you say it in the few short seconds after the customer's objection will dictate success or failure for the entire call.

A strong response has the power to impress the customer and open his / her mind.  A weak response will almost certainly condemn the call to failure and make the task of re-engagement on future calls much tougher.

The use of questions

 Many people respond to objections with questions.  This can have some degree of success but often ends up leading the call into a dead end as seen in the examples below:

Customer - We have no requirements at the moment...

 Sales Person - Would it be ok to keep you on our database and contact you again in a few months to see if things have changed?

 Customer - That's fine.


Customer - We are just looking at gathering information at this stage, we will come back to you if we are interested...

 Sales Person - ok, is there anything I can help with right now?

 Customer - No thanks.

The responses above are polite, unobtrusive and therefore unlikely to rile the potential customer but crucially they fail to overcome or uncover the objection.  The reason for this failure is that the salesperson has not given the customer any reason to think differently.  This is why questions alone often prove unsuccessful in handling objections.   


Negative Re-enforcement Questions

 These questions must be avoided when responding to any objection.  They invite the customer to re-enforce their negative position.  Take a look at the examples below:

 Customer - We have no requirements at the moment...

 Sales Person - Ok, so you don't have any needs right now...

 Customer - No.

 Customer - The project is still on hold...

 Sales Person - So this has not begun yet...

 Customer - Well clearly not.

 These examples look and sound pathetic but are surprisingly common.  When unsure of how to respond the nervous salesperson has an almost inherent impulse to repeat what the customer has just said, it is the voice betraying the brain and telling the customer that she / he has not a clue what to say next.  The result, the call ends with the customer thinking the salesperson is something of a dimwit.


The value of the strong statement

 The sales objection should be seen as a challenge.  Think of it as the customer throwing down the gauntlet to you.  To meet this challenge you must demonstrate 3 things: 

  • That you understand their objection.
  • That you are confident you can overcome their objection.
  • That you can provide the customer with a credible reason to re-consider.
    A simple way to achieve all 3 is to make a point of responding to the objection with a strong statement first before posing questions.  Furthermore ensure the statement directly addresses the customer's comments.
    Responding to the objection with a strong statement shows the customer that you are not a pushover and that you have the confidence to deal with whatever they throw at you.  Crucially a direct statement also shows your customer that you have listened and understood their position.
    Take a look at the strong responses below.  Notice how the salesperson uses their statement to directly address the customer's objection.  Also see how the phrases "I am keen..." & "I am confident..." work particularly well:
    Customer - We have an existing supplier and we are very happy with them...
     Sales Person - I am confident that we can certainly match and exceed the quality you currently receive and I would welcome the opportunity to show you how we could do this...
    Customer - We have no requirements at the moment...
    Sales Person - I Understand.  I am keen to look at how we may be able to help with projects you have coming up throughout the next 12 months...
    Customer - We have never used your company before....
     Sales Person - That is exactly why I am calling.  I am keen to find out how I can establish my company on your preferred supplier list...
    4 things you can do right now
  • Never use negative re-enforcement questions.
  • Draw up a list of the most common objections you encounter then make a point of writing a strong response statement for each one.  Consider practicing these response statements with a colleague before making live sales calls. 
  • Consider greater use of the phrases "I am keen..." & "I am confident..." when creating your response statements.
  • Remember to take one step at a time.  The objective at this point is not to close the sale, that comes later.  Success at this stage is simply showing the customer that there is value in continuing a conversation with you.