Overcoming objections is a critical skill for driving new revenue, but often our least favorite aspect of selling. Think about your own buying behavior. We all offer common, socially acceptable objections in our own lives. For example, we’ve all told a salesperson, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” It’s human nature to want to avoid conflict, which is why it isn’t comfortable to handle objections but it’s absolutely critical to handle every one.
If you’re looking to increase your close rates and truly grow your IT services business this year, you need to learn how to not only handle common objections, but effectively overcome them.
There are several common objection handling mistakes resultant from human nature. We tend to talk too much and hear only what we want to hear. There’s also an innate desire tell the customer everything we know and try to predict their objections. Perhaps worst of all, we shy away from confirming that we’ve answered objections to the customer’s satisfaction.
Preparing for these conversations begins by expecting the inevitability of objections so that you’re cool, calm and collected when faced with them. Not only should you welcome objections, you should seek them out.
The Four Common Objections
When it comes to the most common objections we hear in this industry, there are four main categories: misunderstandings, doubt, drawbacks and insincerity.
Misunderstandings are often the easiest objection to handle as they are a sign that you’re going too fast. Take some time to let the prospect finish and agree with the validity of their objection, while restating their pain. This serves to strengthen your solution when you explain how you can solve their problem. Make sure to clarify any misunderstandings. If you’re wrong, you risk losing credibility as a “trusted advisor,” so make sure you’re not the one misunderstanding.
Doubt can be a sign of mistrust. We’ve all had bad buying experiences and can empathize with doubt. Ask about their previous purchasing experiences to get to the root of this objection. Show confidence in the form of testimonials and offer paid trials (test drives = mental ownership).
Drawbacks are an opportunity to think outside of the box. Sometimes a perceived drawback isn’t really a drawback, it’s simply a misunderstanding. If it’s a true drawback, acknowledge it and use the opportunity to gain credibility. Make sure you quantify differences in your solution, such as exchanging a manual process for automation of more time-consuming tasks. Oftentimes, this will show that a drawback is a necessary trade-off for more significant improvements elsewhere.
Insincerity is unfortunately very common and occurs at every stage. The intent is not to maliciously mislead you, so don’t take it personally. Remember that it’s human nature to avoid conflict, and sometimes we all lie because we feel it’s the polite thing to do. Empathize with the client and share your concerns of there being underlying issues not being discussed. This is a time to leverage your emotional intelligence to get to the real issue.
Objection Handling Strategies
Over the decades, there have been a myriad of closing acronyms salespeople have memorized to help them control the objection handling process. You’ve likely heard of “Feel, Felt, Found,” which goes a bit like: I understand how you Feel, a lot of my clients Felt the same way, but many of them Found that once they engaged with this solution it exceeded their expectations. We recommend a fully evolved objection handling methodology known as, LSCPA: Listen, Share, Clarify, Problem Solve, Ask for Action.
Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand. Fight the common urge to “prematurely” answer. We have two ears and only one mouth for good reason.
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
Share their concerns without judgement. They need to feel that you understand their needs and have their best interest in mind. Let them know you understand how they feel to ease them into making a buying decision.
Ask questions until your curiosity is satisfied and you’re confident that you’ve uncovered their true objection. Many objections are hiding underlying issues that the person either can’t or isn’t ready to articulate. Experts say that it takes at least four to five layers of questions to really uncover the pain and nature of the true objection. Take your time, and keep asking questions until you satisfy your curiosity. Restate their concerns in your own words and confirm you’re both working to solve the same problem.
Brainstorm and collaborate with the customer to introduce alternative solutions. Describe how you are going to solve the problem or remove the barrier. Even more powerful, describe how you did it for someone else in a success story or shareable metric! Relatable stories have a powerful impact on buying decisions.
Ask for Action
Use assumptive closing techniques to help the customer visualize the solution. Gain agreement from the customer that every objection has been addressed and confirm the next steps.
Once you’ve overcome all of their objections, you still need to be cognizant of the potential for buyers’ remorse. You can help avoid this by making sure both parties have mutually agreed upon action items with defined deadlines. Take out your calendars and send meeting invitations before you conclude your business.
Remember that the sale doesn’t end when they sign the contract. Make sure you exceed expectations and build a long-term relationship, allowing you to cycle your sales pipeline with the best possible type of leads: referrals.
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By Gretchen Hoffman
By Gretchen Hoffman