How do I deal with client objections?
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How Your Procurement Practices Affect Your Sales and Brand - By Sue Barrett
Many sales people will tell you one of the biggest worries in sales, besides prospecting, is dealing with customer objections. Its true many people do not like dealing with objections or conflict, however, it is also true that many people unintentionally create objections and conflict by not understanding a customer’s real needs or priorities and failing to find common ground.
In my opinion ‘overcoming objections’ is often blown out of proportion in terms of the issue it claims to be. Too much time and attention is spent on objections in sales meetings and sales training rather than focusing on the skills and resources needed to help sales people eliminate objections from the sales process in the first place.
The two key strategies to eliminating the issue of objections are: Having a sound, logical sales communication process that sets you up to understand where a customer or prospect is coming from, what they value, what their real priorities are, why and when they are ready to make a decision to buy, and how sophisticated they are; and a sound knowledge of your offerings and how it fits or serves your market.
Utilising your very best communication skills such as focused questioning, active listening, verifying and paraphrasing, and creative problem solving are keys to eliminating objections and creating a dynamic, productive sales and buying experience for you and the customer.
Let’s rethink labelling every customer question or concern as an objection. A customer asking a question about your product or service, seeking further clarification on a matter, or expressing confusion over a new product are not grounds for an objection, they are merely trying to understand what you or the product/service does in more detail.
They are often trying to see if there is match between you and them. As sales people we should welcome these enquiries as the customer is fully engaged, showing interest, and seeking to find common ground as to whether to work with us or eliminate us from the equation. This should not be grounds for fear and loathing.
In many cases sales people are not trying to overcome objections, they are working with the customer who is seeking information or clarification for a mutually beneficial outcome, the sale. Dealing with nonconforming ideas or helping a customer coordinate a viable solution requires understanding, collaboration, and creative problem solving skills on the part of the sales person, not overcoming objection skills.
There are four common areas sales people come across which can, if not properly dealt with, lead to objections (and reactions):
1. Misunderstanding – correct it
2. Doubt – resolve it
3. Limitation – compromise or put it into perspective
4. Question – answer it
The reality is if you and the customer have not found common ground or agreement on an action to move the sale forward to the next logical stage it does not necessarily mean you have encountered an objection. It may just mean a viable sales opportunity may not exist. However, if you have not listened to the customer, tried to force your ideas onto them without their consent, or tried to bully them into a sale then the customer may object, and rightly so.
If during any stage, especially the last stage of the selling process, you encounter strong objections or indecision from your customer, it likely means one or more of these problems may exist:
* You didn’t really understand your customer’s/prospect’s needs or priorities in the first place and tried to put forward solutions they do not want
* Your customer/prospect doesn’t perceive having a need i.e. they maybe an uniformed buyer
* Your customer/prospect is not looking for a solution, i.e. maybe they are just on a fact finding mission
* You have not shown your customer/prospect what they think they need, i.e. there is a clash due to a mismatch between what you perceive as important and what they perceive as important
* Your customer/prospect cannot see any real value in your offering
* Your customer/prospect is not ready to buy yet
* Your customer/prospect does not have confidence in you or your company
* Your customer/prospect has unrealistic expectations you will never meet
* Your customer/prospect has other agendas or loyalties that do not understood, i.e. they have biases and are unlikely to buy from your not matter what
These situations and others like them are the realities of selling. Our job as sales people it to properly understand our customers, their situation, their preferences, priorities, challenges, goals, and come up with viable solutions that are a win:win for both parties, or determine that a ‘no sale’ exists. Either way everyone is in the know about what to expect which should reduce the need to object. However, sometimes there is no simple solution to a customer’s concerns. A customer will hesitate to move forward and if you can’t find a solution, maybe you can negotiate a resolution.
If you do happen to come across a real objection, below is a seven step process for handling objections:
1. Deal with the objection straight away, don’t ignore it.
2. Be trustworthy and empathise with feelings that are expressed; Use an appropriate manner by remaining calm, showing respect, and using positive language (talk about what can be done rather than what can’t be done).
3. Utilise your most effective communication skills, remembering to: actively listen, question, solve problems, avoid making personal judgments, be flexible, and work together.
4. Ask questions to determine the real objection.
5. Restate objections to clarify the issue and gain agreement from the customer that this is their real concern.
6. Work towards seeing the situation from the customer’s point of view
7. Select a course of action which may include negotiating a resolution.
In short, the key to handling and eliminating objections effectively can only occur when open communication, cooperation and collaboration exist, however it is important to check and make sure it is a legitimate objection first.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
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How Your Procurement Practices Affect Your Sales and Brand - By Sue Barrett
About the Author: Sue Barrett
RSS for Sue's articles - Visit Sue's website
'Selling is everybody's business and everybody lives by selling something' so says Sue Barrett, sales expert, writer, business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur. Sue founded Barrett in 1995 to positively transform the culture, capability and continuous learning of leaders, teams and businesses by developing sales driven organisations that are equipped for the 21st Century. Since inception, Barrett has worked with hundreds of Australian companies challenging thinking to create compelling reasons and continuous learning pathways for people and organisations to develop their skills, knowledge and mindsets to create the shifts they want and ensure they are well informed and equipped for the sales journey ahead.
Sue is one of the leading voices commenting on sales today. Sue has a unique way of getting to the heart of the matter - she combines extensive knowledge, research, insight, and practical experience with a deep sense of compassion to bring forth a more enlightened way of thinking and participating in the world. This makes her stand out from the usual crowd of existing business commentators.
Her ability to distill complex ideas and relate them to life's everyday challenges and opportunities has audience members and readers leaving with a stronger understanding of "self" and how they can begin to achieve excellence through purposeful action. Presenting and writing on a wide range of topics about the world of 21st Century selling Sue's presentations and articles include sales philosophy and culture, sales leadership and coaching, sales training, selling skills, resilience, neuroscience in selling and more. Sue's articles are some of the most widely read in Australia and she is gaining a following overseas as well. Besides publishing on Barrett Sales Blog site, Sue has been the lead sales writer for www.smartcompany.com.au since 2007, and is also regularly published on other highly regarded publications such as Australian Anthill Magazine, Niche Magazine, Marketing Mag, Business Chicks, and Business Deals.
Click here to visit Sue's website.
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