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.