There are many possible stumbling blocks in the sales process. This is why sales reps are trained extensively to identify these setbacks and address them as soon as possible so that the sales process can proceed without any more hiccups.
But as all sales reps are aware, there is one constant in the sales process: objections.
Objections occur a lot in sales—that is an understatement. Especially in B2B, very rarely would a sale transaction go through without the customer objecting to at least one thing. The objection may be in the form of a doubt (“Will it really work?”), a concern (“The suggested timeline does not fit ours.”), a hesitation (“I will have to think about this more.”), or simple indecision (“I can’t decide right now.”) It can also be an outright protest. “It’s too expensive” is pretty common. Or “You need to have add-ons for that price.”
It’s most frustrating when the objections arise mid-transaction or, worse, when it is nearing completion. During the closing and negotiations phase, that’s where all the objections come up. It’s an obvious attempt by customers to get a better, if not the best, deal out of the transaction. They want to be certain of the value they will get for the investment they will make.
Many customers also want to be in charge of the situation. They don’t want to be simply sold to. They want to be sure that they are in control of their decision to purchase.
These reasons lead to the frustrating back and forth that ensues before the deal is closed (or not).
But sales reps must be trained to regard objections as part of a sales process. They really do come with the territory. So how can you best approach these doubts, concerns, issues, hesitations, indecision, and opposition?
There seems to be one strategy a lot of seasoned sales reps employ when it comes to objections: anticipating them.
Anticipating objections involves identifying all possible objections that a prospect will raise to your pitch and/or proposal AND planning the correct response and strategy for each. Note that the second part of that sentence is crucial. You don’t only anticipate objections; you also plan for them accordingly.
This means that anticipating objections requires a lot of strategic planning and team work.
A sales team must work together to identify the common objections raised by all their prospects and customers. Compile a list and go through each one. Objections normally fall under these categories:
- Budget: They don’t have the budget for the project or you’re priced too high for them
- Need: They either don’t need what you’re selling or you’re not addressing their need
- Timing: They don’t have the time to deal with you or your proposal; there is no urgency for the project to commence; or timing is not right
- Trust: They have doubts about your expertise, your product, your brand, etc.
- Competition: There’s a better-priced competitor or they have an existing provider, etc.
Identify all the objections customers have raised based on these five categories and strategize on how you can respond to each one. Every team member should also share the best practices and/or solutions that worked to counter each objection.
Anticipating objections is also said to be an Influencing technique, or the art of using communication and social skills to impact the actions and decisions of others. In some cases, anticipating objections is taken a step further, like when a sales rep creates a proposal in a way that will generate an objection that is easy to defeat. For example: since pricing is a common objective, sales rep will draft a proposal that is priced high but with a generous profit tucked in. When client objects to the fee, sales rep can easily deduct from it since he has already set a high profit margin.
Another strategy some of the pros employ is addressing the issue head-on and very early on in the process. The rationale behind it is: objections almost always exist in all sales transactions, then why not talk about them early in the discussions? A question like “Do you see any reason why this product won’t work for what you need?” is direct and broaches the subject.
It’s a bold move, even risky, but by surfacing objections early and often, it can have these effects:
- The rep projected confidence: If the rep was unsure if the product was a good fit, they probably wouldn’t have asked such a bold question.
- The prospect was more engaged: With their anxieties resolved, the prospect could turn all of their attention to the product’s features and benefits.
- The demo was more relevant: The extra insight allowed the sales rep to tailor their presentation to the prospect’s top-level priorities.
Of course, not every possible objection will be raised that early on; some will surface later on, as you progress further in the sales discussions.
The key takeaway with these two strategies is to prepare for objections. They will simply not go away. So the more you prepare for them, the better your chances of countering even the worst kinds.
Photos from Pexels. Main image by energepic.com