Handling objections in sales

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Do you get the cold sweats when someone objects or says “no” during the sales process? If so, you’re not alone; handling objections in sales is one of the hardest techniques to master.

Let’s you meet a potential client. From the point of first contact, you sense he will be “difficult.” His body language radiates adversity. You are reminded of similar sales negotiations in the past that were quite painful and didn’t end well.

What will be your strategy for survival? Will you end the meeting as quickly as possible? Will you skip stages in the negotiation? Or will you respond to his prickly attitude with confidence?

Let’s say you make him an offer that you consider to be interesting. He is opposed, unsurprisingly. Do you then let yourself be deflated, disoriented by your emotions, to the point that you can’t regain control of the sales process? At the first “no,” do you abdicate? Decide there is no possibility of persuading such a difficult target?

If this scenario seems familiar, rest assured…. you’re not alone!

In North America, 63% of salespeople fail to make the sale, according to American author Zig Ziggler. 49% of salespeople give up at the first “no,” 25% give up after the second refusal, and 17% after the third.  In fact, only a scarce 9% of sales people have the elite skills to turn around a sale after being refused four times!

Why are we so afraid of the word no? In fact, in negotiations, often a no is simply a smokescreen… a “maybe” in disguise! Saying no can also be a bluff on the part of the customer. Remember: An objection is just an obstacle, not a conversation-ender! And, since any obstacle can be overcome by adjusting our approach or our proposal, you can transform a “maybe” into a “yes” by practicing mental judo.

Persist, don’t insist!

When a potential customer declines your service, product or idea, in many cases it’s the timing they are rejecting and not you. Great salespeople are able to separate their ego. If you can’t then you will sabotage your chances of achieving the desired conclusion and you’ll no longer enjoy selling.

Great salespeople are able to turn adversity into opportunity, which is why their closing ratio is enviable. They are chameleons that can adapt to the environment as defined by the customer and his world (his reality, needs, motivations, interests, etc.). They involve the customer, engaging them in the sales process with enthusiasm (by being reassuring and sparkling), and have the right attitude. They are “state inducers.”

If they can, you can too.

If you have the right attitude and skills, then you will be able to continue to be strategic rather than desperate (your survival mode is unable to take over) when you get an objection. You need to change perspective if you want to reach your ultimate goal of closing the sale and beginning a business relationship with this customer.

The sale is certainly the intended destination, but the journey (the sales process) is equally important. Especially if the road is winding and strewn with objections.

To limit the number of objections and overcome them, you must:

  • Practice the 20/80 conversation rule (let the customer talk more than you do)
  • Keep in mind that the customer likes to buy and probably wants to
  • Deeply question the client on his fundamental and evolving needs
  • Listen to the customer and repeat what he said
  • Make the link between the products, services or ideas and what the customer wants to feel (It’s a good deal; You will gain, etc.)
  • Envision the next step: making the sale

Ask the right questions!

To work around an objection, you must ask the right questions. By gathering information in this way you’ll be able to identify the “right words” to repeat back to them when building on your sales pitch and establishing the dialogue.

When the customer opposes your proposal or refuses, never respond with “why?” This term, when used alone, is accusatory. Instead, state an implicit request: “I am curious to know what you dislike in this proposal” or “What led you to not consider this proposal?” These responses make people more willing to open up, and provide clues you can use to then adjust your approach.

A sale, after all, is nothing but a well-crafted proposal that takes into account the needs and motivations of the customer and dispels fears.

With the right approach, the right attitude, and the right proposal— while practicing the mental judo outlined here when you get an objection—who will be able to resist you?

The Impact-Pro Team

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