Your call plan (you do have one, right?) is playing out just like you designed it. Prospect is eating out of your hand. Pretty soon you can close this deal. Then…Wham! An objection surfaces that you didn’t see coming. You lose traction, struggle for a response. You might lose credibility…and the deal.
Customer objections can come from a variety of sources. They can be real, smoke screens, personal or business goal related. Often times they surface from the competition. No matter where the objection comes from, you have to be prepared to respond. I have had clients ask me to create playbooks with responses to common objections. I have been given these playbooks as a rep. These can be great as a guide; a way to approach and format your response. But there is no silver bullet. The only way to truly understand and respond correctly to an objection is preparation. But where do you start?
You have the product knowledge. You know the features and benefits of your solution – and your competitor’s. These are only the foundation for sales success. To truly get to the end zone, it takes a lot more. You must ensure you can skillfully understand and respond to the worst of objections. When preparing for a meeting, begin by focusing on a few key areas:
- All members of the decision making team: Make sure that you understand exactly who has any input into a buying decision. This can go from the C-suite down to the end user.
- Personal and business goals for each influencer: Every member of the decision making team may have both personal or career goals. As well as goals for the company. Make sure that you understand both sides so that you can anticipate possible objections.
- Decision maker relationship with the competition: Especially with longer sales cycles, the buying decision team may have relationships with the competitors. Identify who the competition is and how they are perceived. Strengths of the competition may turn into objections for you.
- Decision maker pull as an influencer or detractor: Within the decision team, different members may have different amount of clout. Know who these people are and focus on them appropriately.
- Questions or objections that you don’t want to surface: These are the ones that you have to prepare for the most. Too often, sales representatives overlook or choose not to spend time in this area. You must understand the motivators of each influencer. This is the only way to anticipate what doozies may fly your way. In any major meeting, identify five unwanted objections or questions from each participant.
Download the Mitigate Unwanted Objections Tool to make this process easy. Use members of your sales team to play devil’s advocate in your preparation. It will pay dividends when the big one hits.