Simon Dethridge at BIG Consulting shared this helpful guide.
Objections are just part of the selling process
How do you view buyer resistance?
As humans, we are wired for harmony. We like to get on with others and avoid conflict.
Unfortunately, in selling, you will experience roadblocks and resistance as part of the sales process. It is to be expected because we are asking the customer to make a commitment that involves a decision with risk, plus they need to part with their money or make a change. There are often good reasons to act but sometimes there are concerns that will derail that decision.
Not all sales discussions will yield objections but skilled salespeople budget for resistance and know that it just comes with the territory.
Objections are probably where salespeople earn their money the most
I think it is fair to say that most salespeople would say that dealing with objections is the toughest part of selling. Objections usually come after needs, identification and delivery of solutions.
So there has already been an investment of effort and an objection now means more work is required. This can test the mindset of salespeople and produce certain behaviours.
Unresourceful behaviours in overcoming objections
When hit with an objection, those less skilled may exhibit some or all of the following behaviours:
- Talk more
- Listen less
- Rush to an attempted close
- Get emotional
- Take it personally
- Offer a concession to buy their comfort!
The mantra you want to adopt is…
“I love objections and objections love me!”
It might sound a little unusual when you are telling yourself to like something that is negative, but the real meaning of an objection is feedback. The customer is simply signaling to you that a core need for them has not yet been met.
This is clearly a positive! They have thought about owning your idea and have found something that is not quite right. This should be seen as a positive development and the feedback is super valuable.
Resourceful behaviours in overcoming objections
So, try doing the opposite when you next get hit with resistance:
- Talk less and ask questions for understanding
- Listen intently to what they are saying and not saying
- Ask questions to slow down, gather information and buy time to think about what you are really dealing with
- Manage your emotional state and remain curious
- Don’t take it personally – they don’t not like you; they just don’t like enough of what you offered them as a solution
- Don’t buy your comfort by giving, get curious, clarify what needs to be solved and re-organise your proposition
It's as simple as ABC
Customers object for 5 main reasons
The objections you face will usually fall into one of five main types.
- Scepticism They don’t believe your claim.
- Indifference They don’t see a compelling reason to change
- Misunderstand They don’t understand how your idea works
- False They are trying you on, to see if they can get an even better deal by feigning disinterest
- Real There is a shortcoming in our product or service
Here is how you solve each type
Scepticism requires proof
If they think your claim is ambitious or even outrageous, provide some objective proof that backs your claim. It could be a testimonial, a case study, a third party’s review or an expert’s opinion or data. The more credible the source, the more convincing your original claim will become.
Indifference requires interruption
Your offer is not compelling enough to act on, so your buyer thinks it’s better to stay sitting on the fence. Your job in this case is to reconnect with their desire for more pleasure or less pain and then restate how your idea will deliver that outcome. You need to interrupt their sense of comfort with the status quo and create a burning desire to act. You must show that the status quo is far from ideal, and they are missing out on significant improvements in their utility.
Misunderstanding requires a sensitive restatement
No one wants to feel silly or embarrassed so be careful when dealing with this type of objection. Perhaps they don’t understand what’s in it for them because the form of the communication is not matching their preferred style for processing information.
Try these shifts based on what you perceive as the preferred style of your buyer:
- Move from telling to showing – A Visual shift
- Move from showing to have them experience – A Kinesthetic shift
- Move from demonstrating to story telling – An auditory shift
The main focus here is to help the customer to realise how your idea works and that they understand the process that delivers the outcome they desire.
A false objection requires a Trade, not a Give
The customer is trying you on to see if they can eke out a better deal. See it for what it is and don’t be tempted to do a straight give.
Your first response should be a confident NO.
- No, we are not prepared to simply drop our price
- No, that is something we don’t do for good reason
- No, that would not be the best outcome for either of us
- Thank you for considering the opportunity, it is a pity that we just may not be able to get this deal done. Anyway …
Your next strategy is to trade your way to yes.
- However, if you were to (double your volume) we could look at rewarding you with a (bulk price).
Real Objections require more work using the ABC method
The ABC method is designed to be simple but best used on the more challenging objections you might face. By applying ABC we wish to stay onside. Remember you do more when in rapport!
Our job as salespeople is to simply help customers to buy, and if they are having problems getting to yes, we need to help them around the roadblock(s).
Here is how you use the ABC method.
The ABC method for handing tough objections
Step 1: Acknowledge and Ask
The temptation with objection handling is to rush to the solution. We do the opposite, because we need to stay in rapport and take the customer with us.
Acknowledging the objection sounds like this:
- “I am sorry you feel that way.”
- “I hear what you are saying.”
- “I can see how that might look to you.”
- “I appreciate your concern.”
Note that by acknowledging their objection we are empathising with how they see things from their perspective, but we certainly don’t wish to agree with them. That would make the job of changing their view so much harder.
Then, having protected our rapport through the acknowledgement, we ask a series of open and closed questions to find out more.
- Tell me, who are you comparing us to in the market?
- What do they offer that we don’t?
- What specification was in their competing offer?
- Is price your only concern?
- Is that really important to getting you to your preferred destination?
Through quality questions we get the customer sharing their concerns. Whilst this is really helpful for you, it is often therapeutic for them to get it off their chest and vent a little! So let them.
Step 2: Bundle
Next, we wish to bundle together what it is that they have concern with in order to clarify what we need to solve.
This is best done via a Summary Question and a Trial Close to earn the right to offer an alternative solution.
“So what we need to clarify is the value of the higher specification items in our proposal, and that the superior value is worth paying a small premium for.
If we could demonstrate that superior value for you, would you be open to confirming your order with us today?”
Now you have helped the customer to frame the decision and to respectfully earn the right to show them your superior offer.
Step 3: Counter and Close
The final step is to counter any downside in your offer with all the positives that they will get instead.
It is important that you communicate the benefits they receive and not simply the features in your offer. Features tell – but Benefits Sell!
“By paying just a bit more, you get a whole lot more peace of mind and performance.
You will be safer because we offer built in warnings and auto power shut off.
You will receive a much cooler or warmer room in less time because the more powerful motor delivers superior temperature transfer.
And because we are Australia’s largest supplier you know that you will have peace of mind knowing we will be here if you ever need any back up service or support.
When you are only buying on price, you can overlook what you will miss out on and is that really what you want when it comes to buying the best unit for your family?”
Having made a powerful restatement of what is in it for them from your reworked offer, then don’t be backwards in asking for their commitment. Now seek to close.
“So can we organise a unit for you for immediate delivery and installation this week?”
What is the worst thing that can happen when seeking commitment in step 3 of the ABC method?
They could raise another objection! That’s ok. We love objections and they love us. So we simply start the ABC process again.
However, if you have handled the objection fully and skilfully, you have helped the customer around the roadblock, and they will want to reward you with their business.
Remember to love objections because they help you to sell!