Customer Objections Kill Deals
It might seem obvious, but there is great value in identifying the exact point at which most sales deals fall through. Deals rarely fail because of a weak approach or a lack of demonstrated value.
If a potential client has been qualified as a legitimate sales opportunity, the most likely point of failure will be when that client raises an objection.
How a salesperson responds to the client’s objection will make or break the deal, so it is critical that he respond in the right way when objections inevitably arise.
Objections can be intimidating, so you must train your salespeople to expect them and prepare for them so that they are not caught off guard.
How Do I Make Sure My Sales Team Can Handle Objections?
Many of the critical traits required for success in sales are inborn, but some can be learned.
So, is objection handling a born skill or a learned one?
Thankfully, most of the tactics that work best for handling objections can be learned, so if you find a candidate who shows Drive on his initial salesperson assessment and seems to have raw talent for the trade, you do not need to be discouraged if he cannot immediately deal with customer’s objections effortlessly.
So, what is the one skill required for a salesperson to dance gracefully past objections and into deals? He must be able to think on his feet.
Knowledge is the Key
But is the ability to think on your feet a born trait?
Creativity certainly is inherent but, within the parameters of a sales deal, preparation is more important than a creative personality when dealing with customer objections. The best way for a salesperson to be good at thinking on his feet is for him to know his product, industry and sales model inside and out. Then, when a customer asks for a discount, the salesperson will know exactly how much wiggle room he has in his pricing and can cut him/her an appropriate deal.
When a customer expresses reservations about a product’s limitations, the salesperson will be able to provide perspective on any limitations and focus the discussion on what makes the product better than its competitors.
Do you provide ample resources for your sales team to become experts on your product and on the industry in general?
Do you teach them about your competitors and what makes your company different?
You might feel like some of this information is irrelevant to his sales, but you would be surprised how the smallest pieces of information affect a salesperson’s approach and even his confidence.
There is nothing more disheartening for a salesperson than to have to say to a potential customer “I do not know.” Those words strike down the trust that your salesperson has likely worked hard to build.
Just as there is no such thing as a stupid question, there is no such thing as superfluous information for a salesperson when his is interacting with a client.
Do what you can to keep your sales team informed and encourage them to share information they find relevant with you, so you can all stay up to date.
Objections? Ask Questions
Sometimes customers are not honest about the real reasons for their objections. Making decisions for their company might be stressful and negotiations are sometimes awkward for people who are not used to the sales environment. Curiosity and sociability are helpful traits for a salesperson to have, but anyone can learn the habit of asking questions. The more your salesperson gets to know his client, the better he will be at understanding her true concerns and getting to the heart of her objection.
What is the customer really objecting to?
All the preparation and industry knowledge in the world will be useless if your salesperson does not have a clear idea of what the client’s real problem is.
Train your salespeople to respond to objections with questions so they will be able to figure out their client’s true concerns and address them with all that industry knowledge they have amassed.
Sometimes when a customer raises an objection like “I just need to think about it” what she is really saying is “I do not trust you enough yet.”
When a salesperson asks questions, it shows the client that he cares about her concerns. The more effort your salespeople spend getting to know clients by asking questions, the more likely those clients will be to trust them and give them their business.
In addition to providing further information about a client’s needs, an open-ended question delivered in response to an objection will give a salesperson time to collect his thoughts and adjust his strategy. There is almost no problem in customer interactions that cannot be solved by asking questions.
Nurture the Right Nature
Deals are at their most fragile when a customer raises an objection, so it is critical that you teach your sales team the proper way to respond when objections come up. If you have a sales team full of Driven people that you work to keep informed and trained to respond appropriately in the face of objections, they will be unstoppable.
That said, there is no amount of training or informing that will fix an under-performing sales team if they lack the critical characteristics needed for success in sales: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism.
So, how can you tell the difference between a lack of training and a lack of Drive?
Unfortunately, a lack of Drive is difficult for most people to spot until it has already cost their company a lot of money in wasted recruiting and training. Using a salesperson assessment during the recruiting process is the most painless way to ensure your company is not wasting time training a candidate that will never pull his weight.
Industry knowledge and asking good questions are incredible objection-obliterating tools in the hands of a Driven salesperson, but no amount of sales training will turn a candidate with the wrong personality into a practical success.
Do yourself, your sales team, and future candidates a favor by testing for Drive from the beginning so you can focus on training your well-qualified team members for success.