Objections – how do your sales team handle them?June 11, 2019 by Helen Wilcox in Latest News
Do you find your sales teams are getting rattled by objections? Is it your impression that sales are stalling because of them? One of the crucial roles of sales enablement (and good sales management) is to help salespeople become successful. Managing objections is a ‘quick win’ topic that you can address today.
Are your sales team CREATING the objections?
In Neil Rackham’s famous SPIN selling approach, the research team observed that some salespeople faced more objections than others. In some cases, 10x more than peers in the same team. (1) The author goes on to explain this is caused by proposing a solution too early, before finding out all the customer needs. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Active listening and asking well phrased questions with a structure and direction to them are vital skills. Make sure your sales training and sales enablement programmes offer a tailored sales process and effective training in understanding needs to avoid being the cause of the problem!
What are the objections actually?
When we run an objections workshop, we start by asking the whole sales team to list every objection they hear. All of them. Typically, we arrive at 20 to 30. When we group them into similar themes, the list invariably ends up at 8 to 10 maximum. 8 to 10 objections are a much more manageable task than a vague, unspecified problem. Start by being clear which objections you have to work with.
Fix the mindset first
Before we find ways to respond to the 8 to 10 objections, a short journey into sales psychology. When we face objections, there is a risk we end up in “Yes, but…” mode. That is, being defensive and not actually listening or addressing the underlying concern customers have. Salespeople can feel threatened, insecure and defensive when faced by an objection. After all, it could be the end of the road for this meeting / sales opportunity. Helping salespeople not to take the objection personally and see it as a natural concern customers can have is vital. Fully acknowledging the concern first before responding is key e.g. “Yes, I fully understand why you would be concerned about…”. Without true acknowledgement, anything that flows from the salesperson’s mouth after that is likely to be rejected.
Brainstorm how best to respond
Some of the objections on the list need expert help and creativity. For example, price and competition are frequently on it. Getting together a few people can really help. Marketing, product specialists, star salespeople to name but a few. Get them to think about how best to answer customer’s concerns / objections e.g.
With a well-designed question
“Is price the only factor you will use in making a decision?”
With an analogy
“Investing more money in your equipment may seem hard, and it is like investing in a very reliable car, you will save a small fortune in reduced downtime and repairs.”
With a graphic / image
“May I show you this comparative data from a trial run by the expert agency comparing our products versus the competition.”
With a customer testimonial
“Other customers initially felt like you before they used our service, now if you watch this short video, you can see they really love it.”
It is also very good for roles like marketing and product management to deal with this kind of challenge, as it brings them closer to the reality of the sales job.
Find creative ways to disseminate best practices
A key role for sales enablement, is well, to enable salespeople to sell. Overcoming objections is part of that toolkit. Approaches range from the quick and dirty; (publish the objection responses in a PDF and circulate it to the sales team,) to the sophisticated; (produce e-learning, videos, downloadable resources to show how to handle objections).
Especially with new product launches, identifying and solving objections as they arise is critical to reducing the sales learning curve. Check out Byron Matthew’s and Tamara Schenk’s excellent book ‘Sales Enablement’ (2) for good approaches on how to formalise this kind of service.
Is objection handling ethical?
Are we being manipulative if we help customers ‘overcome’ their objections? Isn’t it a form of sales pushiness? Of course, it depends! Suppose I am ill, and my objection to visiting the doctor is that it’s too much hassle. Would you be right to help me overcome my objection?
If we truly have our customer’s best interests at heart, then the decision is a bit easier. If their objection stands in the way of them reaching their goals, then overcoming it makes sense. However, if overcoming the objection makes them worse off, then probably we are being unethical if we ‘force’ them through their reasonable objection.
Iterate, practice, improve!
Objections evolve and managing them is a skill that we can develop with practice, just like any other.
If you would like help in managing the content side of objections, or the practical communication skills involved, contact info@kojoacademy. Hopefully by understanding your needs thoroughly, we won’t create more objections!!
- SPIN Selling Neil Rackham p118
- Sales Enablement Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk