Formulaic approaches such as this are very tempting. Furthermore, they align with our fast food, quick fix mentality. Seem too good to be true? That’s because it is. Don’t get me wrong, I revel in an easy solution. Unfortunately, most quick fixes are band-aids as opposed to real solutions.
One of the biggest problems for sales reps is customer objections. On the web you’ll find tons of “easy 5 step solutions” to this problem. Not surprisingly, most of these need some work. In this article I will address an alternative way to look at objection handling – from the point of view of the buyer.
As a sales rep, you have a variety of tools in your bag. ‘A’ Players know that these tools don’t always work independently. In fact, these tools become more effective when you combine them. For instance, in a recent blog I wrote about improving customer insights with micro questions. Talented sales reps will use this customer insight to expertly handle customer objections.
Further your tool box by downloading the Uncovering Objections Guide.
Understanding Customer Objections
When countering customer objections, start with knowledge. Have you done your homework? Do you understand your customer’s wants, needs, and issues?
You also must know where your customer is on the Buyer Process Map. Every buyer will (knowingly or not) travel through these buying stages. As you guide them through the Buyer’s Journey, you’re bound to hit some obstacles. Oftentimes these obstacles come in the form of objections. Naturally, their objections will change depending on their stage in the journey. For instance, objections from customers early in the journey can mean:
- Not yet in the market
- Not ready to change
- Haven’t recognized they have a problem
Whereas objections later in the journey can mean there are unresolved areas of risk, such as:
- Budget concerns
- Competitive pressure
- Implementation issues
Have you mapped out the traditional buying process for your typical or ideal customer? If not, then you may find yourself surprised by objections late in the cycle.
No matter where your customer is in the Journey, one fact remains the same. The better you understand the customer, the better you’ll be able to respond to these objections.
Responding to Customer Objections
A well-prepared sales rep will understand customer objections as part of the process. You’ll never get through a deal without facing a few of them. Furthermore, a well designed sales process will have a stage specifically for mitigating risk or addressing concerns. In fact, objections actually mean your customer is advancing through the Buyer’s Journey. Being aware of this will make you more welcoming of the objections.
Despite these facts, many sales reps still have trouble responding to customer objections. The struggles of many reps are a result of formula objection handling. The problem with formula objection handling is that it’s just that – formulaic. Once again we can reference the importance of customer insight. In the same way that your any conversation should be buyer centric, so should your objections. Buyers can tell the difference between genuine and formula pitches. Not surprisingly, it’s a turn-off. Avoid them.
What I thoroughly recommend is the construction of an Objection Handling Template. A proper Template will have consideration for the customer. The graphic below shows a five phase sales process aligned to the stages in a buyer’s cycle. As you develop a template, be thinking of the typical stages your buyers go through when purchasing your product or service.
Having trouble getting started? Download the UNCOVERING OBJECTIONS GUIDE.
Another extremely useful sales rep resource is a repository of objections that you can reference. It’s important that these objections aren’t “pat” or “canned.” Create them in a way that they’re specifically customized to your buyer. Work with your team to compile objections in the customer’s actual words. When you create a repository with actual objections, it becomes easier to respond naturally and sincerely. When was the last time you actually heard “your price is too high?” Hearing these words and responding in real time can make all the difference. Play at game speed all the time so you’re ready when the customer objects.
Your collection of objection responses should be broken down into a minimum of 3 categories:
- Buyer Persona
- Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
- Type of objection – Price, Service, Need, Product and Source (company or sales rep)
With these tools, you’ll be well prepared for your next customer objections. Preparedness yields confidence and composure when responding to customer objections. Both can go a long way in guiding a customer through the Buyer’s Journey.