Common selling mistakes can’t be discussed without reference to objection handling.
A critical point in the sales cycle, objection handling can either accelerate or bring to a halt the deal. Understanding the most common stumbling points when it comes to objection handling can give the sales person the ability to navigate their way smoothly through this stage to a successful win/win outcome.
5 Objection Handling Mistakes
- Not listening – If you don’t listen fully to your customer, you’re unlikely to spot the clues pointing to their objections. We often assume that objections will be clearly signposted, that our customers will state their objections in a manner that is easy to spot and understand but the truth is that not all concerns are so ‘loudly’ aired. It might be a passing comment or, sometimes, no comment at all.
Only yesterday I was on a call in which I had given the other person clues as to the information I knew they needed and yet they never picked up on these and asked me the right questions. Don’t assume your buyers will always do this, they will either be consciously frustrated by your inability to ask these right questions (as I was earlier today) or will just assume your solution doesn’t deliver what they need. Either way, it’s a deal you’re going to lose.
For more on how to really listen to your customers, take a look at: Common Selling Mistakes – Jumping to the Solution too Quickly.
- Failing to Communicate the Value your Solution Offers – If you don’t clearly articulate the extent of the value your solution delivers, you’ll end up creating unnecessary objections. These serve only to delay or halt the sales process and create doubt and uncertainty in your ability to deliver an effective solution. The most likely objection here being price. Whilst you may argue that most customers will always object to the price, if you haven’t articulated the value in your solution, you’ll have nothing to defend your position with. It’s all well and good rolling out the information on value at the point of negotiation, but the damage is already done. Build your customer’s trust and confidence in you and your solution by being clear on value from the outset.
A tip to be aware of when it comes to value – there is a danger that the more familiar you become with a product/service, the less likely you are to be able to recognise its full value and therefore the less likely you are to share this information with your customer. Some information simply becomes taken for granted over time, whereby you are so familiar with it that it just doesn’t seem significant enough to share. Whilst this information may no longer seem particularly significant or ‘valuable’ to you, it still brings value to your customer and therefore strengthens your proposition. Capture every advantage your solution will deliver, no matter how small. It all adds up!
- Failing to Prepare for Objections – Objections are perfectly reasonable and pretty much inevitable, so prepare for them. To do so you need to understand the strengths and potential weaknesses of your proposition. What differentiates you, your company and your product/service from your competitors and what is it that might make theirs a more appealing proposition over yours? Are there any questions you’re unable to answer? Whilst it is quite usual to have areas of uncertainty, you at least need an awareness (as much as is possible) of what these question marks are so they don’t take you by surprise.
Try to put yourself in your customer’s position and consider everything that you might object to if you were them. Forewarned is forearmed. And don’t forget that, in many situations, the customer could choose to buy nothing. They don’t have to choose you or your competitors, they could make no purchase at all and leave things as they are. So, when preparing for objections remember to compare your proposition to the option of doing nothing too.
- Don’t get Defensive – When we are passionate about something, it is easy to get defensive if someone criticises it, particularly when that passion extends to believing that thing is the best. That’s not to say you shouldn’t share that passion with your customer, quite the opposite: passion inspires confidence. You just need to exert caution and remember that confidence can sometimes come across as arrogance and nobody wants to buy from an arrogant sales person!
As I said previously, objections are perfectly reasonable and should be handled respectfully and comprehensively. Even the most amazing solutions must expect to meet objections – take a look at some of the incredibly successful and hugely profitable products and services that were pitched to and rejected by the Dragons on Dragon’s Den. In many of these examples, it was the entrepreneur’s ineffectiveness at addressing the Dragons’ objections that resulted in their failure to gain investment at that point.
It’s not enough to walk into a customer meeting knowing that you have the best solution for them. You may very well have, but you need to convince them of that.
- Don’t Assume All is Lost – I will share a story about somebody I know who, for 7 years, battled with cancer. The cancer re-occurred in multiple locations over that period, each time requiring surgery because chemotherapy was not an option. Early in this ‘journey’ they were told the surgeon would not perform one of the operations. There was “no point”, the surgeon had said, because the type of cancer was such that it would already have spread too far by the time he got in to operate. Then, 6 years after the first occurrence, the cancer went to their brain and 3 months later they were told to get their affairs in order because they would not see another Christmas. That was January 2011 and they are not only still alive but have been told they can consider them self clear of a type of cancer they had been told they could never be classed as ‘clear’ of.
OK, this is an extreme and unusual set of circumstances but the point is that this person reached the point of assuming all was lost on a number of occasions. Had they resigned them self to this outcome, they would not have fought back at the surgeon who refused to operate, or taken the trial drug that eventually led to their miraculous recovery that was promised, at best, to extend life rather than cure. When you come up against objections, it’s all too easy to not fight back as hard as you can, especially when you recognise competitors have the edge over you in a particular area.
One of the biggest deals I have won in recent years was for a customer who operated in a sector we had absolutely no experience in, they had come to us simply off the back of a google search rather than a referral and we had no relationships with anybody inside the organisation. In contrast we knew that our competitors, as a minimum, had experience in this sector. But we won the deal because they liked us, they liked our approach and, critically, we responded promptly and fully to their initial objections. We could so easily have put less effort in to responding to these objections on the assumption that we were unlikely to win the deal and therefore it would not be worth the time investment required. But we didn’t and we created a hugely successful training programme, built some fantastic relationships and gained ourselves an enormous amount of experience in a new sector at the same time.
How you view objections will dictate how effectively you handle them. Don’t think about them as merely an excuse for the customer to beat you up on price. If your customer is able to identify objections, it means those objections are real. Either because you have failed to address these and put them to bed earlier the in the sales process, because it’s an area that you were unaware of, or simply an area where a competitor is stronger. None of these are insurmountable.
Anticipate objections and deal with them early in the sales process – don’t wait for the negotiation stage to cover these, it will mean you arrive at negotiation in a weaker position. Use questioning skills to ensure your customer’s objections have been answered and alleviated. Don’t let personal knowledge or passion cloud your responses, instead look at things from your customer’s perspective. Above all, listen, empathise and respond fully.
To talk to us about how we can help you and your sales team become experts in objection handling, drop us a line at email@example.com or give us a call on 01778 382733.