Objections – Rejections
Time and again when you ask sales professionals why they don't like prospecting (read that as proactive prospecting, not just sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring), a large percentage of sales people will tell you that it is the fear of rejection. In fact the percentage is even higher when you substitute cold calling for prospecting. This goes hand in hand with the answer they give when asked what they want to learn most in an appointment making workshop, the answer being overcoming objections.
Frankly what they are really saying is that they are hoping that we have some magic powder or potion that will eliminate objections and thereby do away with the rejection factor. The look on their faces almost breaks my heart when I tell them we have no such powder. But then we do bring them back when we tell that we will share with them an effective way of dealing with it, which is very different than eliminating or overcoming, and that is the focus of this piece.
If you are in B2B sales and are truly prospecting, objections and rejections are part of the game, and there is no one on the planet that can change that. I guess the only way to avoid that is to only call those people who have made it clear that they are ready, near ready, or considering making a purchase of your product; this group represents about 10% of your market. But very few are able to make a living (my definition of "a living" is solid six figures, at the minimum, year in year out, including 2009) by just doing that. Even when they can, it’s still hard work given the hoards of sales people chasing the same fox. When you consider that at any given time only about 10% of your market is in play, it makes for a small and very crowded sand box. I would rather play with the big kids in the 90% sand box, not very crowded, but lots to play with, even if it is a harder game, the pay off is there.
Which leaves you with the reality that even in these days of global warming, the inconvenient truth is that you have to cold call to engage with prospects who will buy if approached the right way.
With that said, it is also true that our attempts to engage with the 90% are not always welcomed with warmth and open arms, in fact they are usually greeted with anything but. However if you have been in B2B sales for more than three days and ventured beyond the comfort of the willing 10%, you know (or should know) that it may take more than one try to get the unknowing 90% engaged, depending who you listen to, it could take as much as eight or more attempts to get their attention. Why that is should be easy to understand, but most of us are moving to fast to take it in, just as the people we are trying to engage with are moving too fast to take what we are communicating in.
Look at your own world, how many of you reading this use a “To Do” list, not just in your head, but actually written down. Either way, how often do you actually get through it? Exactly, and now imagine that someone approaches you to steal time to deal with something that is not currently on your agenda, does he get your time? Hell no, you tell them, you’re OK, you’re busy, you’re not interested, ask them to send you something so you can “look” at it before you consider meeting. Sound familiar? Of course, you are trying to complete 16 hours of work in a 10 hour day, by Thursday you’re 25 hours behind and there are still things you put on your “To Do” list before you can even begin to think about what I want to add to it. Remember, these are the 90% in your market who are not in play, why are you surprised? You should be expecting it. Why do you look at their response as rejections or objections, they are telling you the truth, if you can’t handle it, you can line up to chase the 10% that are in play, you and every other also ran sale rep.
Once you accept that the first response is dealing with their reality not yours, you can get over your hang ups about rejection and objections. They are not rejecting you, they rejecting what you represent, an unwanted interruption. The objection is not to your “value proposition”, but to being taken off track. Their response is intuitive not intellectual, so it is up to you to deal with it on that level, rather than worry yourself about it and get hung up. The question becomes not how you can avoid it, you can’t, the question is how do you use it to your advantage to getting what you want, which is their attention long enough to get them engaged. To do that you have you achieve two things.
First is to present them with something that is relevant to their reality based on their role and priorities, not yours. Once you connect at that level, you have the opportunity to engage. There is an element of timing, an element of luck, and an element of skill. So that means you have you are in control of two of the three elements, not bad odds if you have confidence and skills. Overcoming the first response and turning it into a conversation is a practiced skill. Second persistence, if the challenge is to replace something on their “To Do” list, you have to be professional persistence. This is not baseball, it is not three tries you’re out. Studies have shown that only five percent of sellers will approach a potential prospect six or more times, same studies show that those are the same five percent that consistently deliver.
As we’ve talked about before, this is the blue collar part of sales, but if you are will to do the heavy lifting, go in to the mine every day and pick away, you will come out with the golden nugget on a more regular basis than the hoards chasing the 10%.