You know the moment: you’ve finished your sales call via cold call, in-person, or on the phone with your potential prospect, and there’s a lull between the end of your proposal and their response. You’re ready, you’re waiting (but you’re a bit apprehensive) – because objections are coming.
There’s not a single salesperson in this world who can get through a few sales calls and never receive a single objection. That’s because objections are merely concerns. Prospects need to ask questions and work through their objections before they move forward with a purchase – not because they aren’t going to buy from you, but because they need a few more insights before they can make a confident decision.
What you should NOT do is immediately react, defending yourself or your product. Many salespeople even interrupt an objection halfway in to try to convince the prospect of otherwise. Rather, take this time to actually listen to their concerns. Invite their questions, viewing each as an opportunity to more clearly see if what you’re selling is a fit for them.
A wise salesperson knows that the rite of passage period of “objections” is just a time to listen and validate what the prospect is saying and feeling. So first, take a beat and listen intently.
There are some ways that you can anticipate concerns throughout the course of the conversation. Rather than completing your end of the sales call then waiting for the objections, build trust in the conversation by continuously checking in with the following questions:
-Are we on the same page?
-How does this look so far to you?
-Can you see how this could help you?
-Are you comfortable with this?
-What are your thoughts on this?
-Any questions on that?
-How do you see that helping you the most?
-Is there anything else I should add?
-Do you see how that works?
-Do you see how that could help you?
-Does that make sense?
Then, right before you move into asking if your product or service is what they are looking for, ask, “Do you have anything else you would like to address to me at this point?” This will keep the conversation in a dance of trust and information sharing, which will help you establish more of a resonance with them than just forging ahead with your sales call and waiting for their objections.
Three Step Formula to Help Customers Overcome their Own Objections
We also teach an easy three step formula that will guide prospects through their own concerns without coming across as pushy or aggressive.
Step One: Clarify
Seek to get to the heart of what their objection really is. If they’re questioning the price, what are they comparing it to? If they’re questioning your promise of results, what makes them hesitant to trust your information?
Rather than assuming you know why their objection is what it is, seek to identify the root cause of the concern so you can launch into a resolution.
The best way to do this is through asking questions. Questions frame all sales, but they especially let prospects do the talking so you can do the listening, and they feel more in control. Here are good questions to ask when clarifying concerns:
-When you say (what they said), what do you mean by that?
-Why do you ask that?
-I’m curious why you feel this way?
-Can you tell me what you mean by that exactly?
-How did you arrive at thinking that way?
-Can I ask where you go that information from?
For example, a prospect’s objection could be, “That’s far more money than we were looking to spend.” An easy assumption here could be: oh, they budgeted X amount for a project like this, and I just quoted something way over their predetermined budget – something they can’t afford.
But, seeking to go beyond and clarify the concern could lead to learning that they do have the funds, they just might need to get them together, or they just need more information.
Understand that they have to make that commitment before you deliver what you promised. Quite possibly, their objection is nothing more than a request for more information. There’s also the possibility that their objection may just be a request for a few simple changes that they would like to see included in what you have offered them. Perhaps they want a few changes to the terms of what you are offering.
Step Two: Discuss.
After the concern has been clarified, take the time to discuss it in depth with the prospect. Tone is critical here. Yes, it’s an objection to your sale, but discussing it like two friends in a conversational manner will make everything feel more casual, and lead the prospect to trust you even more than you already do. Remember that to open up about their objections in the first place, they needed to trust you. Otherwise, the conversation would be over by now.
There are more clues for clarity within a discussion, too, so look out for those additional objection hints and discuss them like you’d talk it out with your neighbor.
Step Three: Diffuse.
Finally, after the discussions have finished, you will ask them how they see themselves resolving their concerns. Here are prime starters:
-Suppose it wasn’t what you thought it was?
-Suppose you could….?
-What if we could….?
-What if you could….?
Then, say something like, “if there was a way you could (blank), would that help you?”
For example, if they’re not feeling up for a full year commitment like the contract you’re selling and the big commitment is their main objection, perhaps the above question could be phrased as, “If there was a way you could do a month on a trial basis, would that help you?”
But, even if you can’t offer a compromise like that, you can lead them through this question into another solution.
For example, if their objection is the amount of money and they don’t have the cash to pay for it, you could ask: “If you did have the funding/budget for it, would this be something that would work for you?”
They may reply with something like a “yes, sure, yes but…”
Ask them to restate why it would work for them. In other words, make sure they hear from their own mouths why it would be a fit. They’ll likely once again add an objection: “But… we can’t pay for it.”
Then, simply say: “I can appreciate that you might not have the funds from what you told me. How do you think you can resolve that so you can find the funds so you can move forward with this purchase and [insert why they believe it will work for them].”
When you put it that way, they’ll likely start to think beyond the cash they already have in reserve. Perhaps they could go back to their boss and ask for a higher budget, or they could cut spending in some other places, or their own personal finances could use some tightening.
Some other quick tips on the diffusing step:
-If a prospect acts for a proposal, first make sure you understand their unique problems and that you’ve confirmed they do have the funds to pay for your solution.
-Never send more information unless they’re actually, legitimately interested. “Can you send me more information?” is a great way for a prospect who isn’t interested to quickly get out of the conversation, and taking the time to send it over wastes your valuable selling time for no reason.
-Follow the above tips also if they ask for references or quotes. And, make a firm next step that will take place once they receive what they’re asking for.
-Also, note that if you’re having a hard time getting the prospect to share exact information on their needs, then they are likely not taking the call seriously.