Here’s an sample sales call dealing with sales objections pulled from our field experience.
My team and I were working with an NHL team that was selling a complex sponsorship package to a small to mid-sized furniture chain around Columbus, Ohio. In this particular situation, the sales rep was selling this package to a furniture store with four locations.
The sponsorship package consisted of a digital footprint, in-game signage, which would drive some traffic to the organization’s website, as well as other media including a mix of radio and TV ads. And they were also trying to sell a little hospitality which included a visit from one of the players to come to store openings, and the grand re-opening. The whole package was well over a quarter million dollars, so the stakes were high. The salesperson was doing great. He had the high ground and kicked out a textbook closing question.
“So what are your thoughts on moving forward?” he asked.
“I’m really concerned about the value here,” replied the president of the retail store.
So what did the salesperson do? Instead of getting the president to define, defend, and explain his position, the salesperson assumed he knew what the prospect was thinking. He went back to the drawing board to carve out some things, trying to hone down, modify, and re-propose the package at a lower price.
When he came back a week later, the salesperson had taken out some of the signage, reduced some of the media spend, trimmed off some of the digital footprint, offered a little less of the hospitality spend, and completely took out the visit from the player to the stores.
What was the president’s response? “I’m really not interested at this point.”
When Addressing Sales Objections You Need to Define, Defend and Explain
In time the salesperson was able to re-engage the buyer. One day he approached him and just laid it out there.
“What happened?” asked the salesman. “You said you had concerns about the value of what we were offering, so we got the price down.”
“Yeah, the original price was a little higher than what we wanted,” agreed the president of the company. “But when you came back with the new package, you actually took out the thing that was most valuable to me.”
“What was that?” asked the salesman.
“The player visits.”
That’s when the salesperson realized he didn’t ask the prospect to force-rank which things were most important. He took out the thing that was least expensive for the team, which was the easiest thing for them to do as it held the least value on their end. But the prospect had ranked the player visit as the thing that held the most value.
That knee-jerk move devalued the whole deal in the eyes of the prospect.
It’s our job as salespeople to get a clear understanding of what the buyer is saying. And if you look at those marketplace-driven objections we talked about previously, everybody defines those words differently and uses them interchangeably. We’re obligated as salespeople to have a dialogue about what those objections are, not to make assumptions.
Sales Objections Happen Throughout the Sales Process
There are inherent objections that come into play throughout the sales process.
For example, buyers are constantly preoccupied. With everything vying for their attention, they become easily disinterested in things that don’t hold their attention. In an environment where your biggest competitor can be the paperwork on your prospect’s desk, you always need to address preoccupation during the sales process by engaging the disinterested prospect and holding their attention.
You’ll encounter objections based on perception, credibility and bias. Your prospect will question what you say, and you’ll need to use various forms of evidence to address their objections. You’ll run into objections in the form of procrastination, stalls and indecision where the prospect is trying to regain control of the sales process by slowing it down.
You will even encounter half-baked objections because your prospect hasn’t clearly thought things through.
We must deal with all of these at different times in the sales process, but no more importantly than after we prescribe a solution.
We’ve got to create a dialogue that causes that prospect to feel comfortable talking to us. Our questioning needs to be fantastic. If they’re not candid and giving us a half-baked objection, it’s because they haven’t thought through our solution.
We must have the right strategy when dealing with objections in the dialogue stage. We need to clarify the objection, find points of agreement, and then create a compelling prescription to move forward.
The lowest ground we can take as a salesperson is being reactive.
Stop Reacting, Take Control, and Respond to Sales Objections
When addressing sales objections in the dialogue stage, you’re faced with a choice. And many sales reps choose poorly. Consider this. When faced with an objection, you can start negotiating and bargaining. But, just because you can start to negotiate doesn’t mean you should. Unfortunately, this is where many salespeople start. They don’t assess the situation, and they don’t get the buyer to define their objection. They don’t respond, they react. And the lowest ground we can take as a salesperson is being reactive.
Like the sales rep in my example at the start of this post, once a salesperson hears any kind of objection, especially ones involving money and financing, they start discounting in an attempt to throw a better deal at the prospect before they get the prospect to defend and define their real concerns.
You can’t negotiate if you’re blind. Yet that’s exactly what many salespeople do. They start the negotiation process before they have a clear picture of the objection as defined by the prospect. They react immediately to the objection, and they end up playing a game of whack-a-mole, jumping on everything as it pops up.
The Relationship Between Negotiation and Sales Objections
So, when we consider sales objections and negotiations in the dialogue stage, we need to think about those processes. Let’s create an analogy to improve our understanding. Let’s equate an objection to an obstacle. And let’s say the word negotiate is synonymous with navigate. I can navigate my car around obstacles into a parking space, but only if I can clearly see the obstacles. I navigate my boat carefully around a series of obstacles into a dock, but only if I have a clear view of those obstacles.
Now, negotiation and sales objections go hand in hand. We negotiate around objections but only when we have clearly identified and defined the objections. And we do that as we navigate the conversation with our prospect, getting them to defend, define, and explain their objection.
Now that’s a real dialogue.
Get the upper hand in resolving objections. Download the manual, Seven Steps to Resolving Objections here and navigate objections like a boss!
And Check out Lance Tyson’s book, Selling Is An Away Game, available on Amazon, for additional methods on resolving sales objections. Get your copy today!