Overcoming objections is an essential part of the sales process, but it seems one that people I speak to either neglect or are fearful of. Really it can be very easy to counter objections, but before we get into that, I should describe what I mean by objections and what I mean by overcoming.
Objections are anything that stops a customer from buying from you. Note I said “from you”. Although we are interested in what stops a customer from buying at all, we are mainly interested in why someone doesn’t buy from you.
When I say overcome the objections, I am not describing a process where you battle, cajole or manipulate the customer into buying. Nobody appreciates that. In fact I would say once you are in a position where you have to go into a argument and counter-argument situation, you have already pretty much lost the sale.
So how do you overcome objections? When publishing content we have a brilliant solution built in to our practices; we inform the customer.
Overcome Sales Objections Before They Are Raised
Seems simple doesn’t it? Common sense? Well, it is simple and common sense, but as I say over and over, common sense is seldom common practice, and the tricky part is knowing what the objections will be.
Common Sales Objections
The obvious starting point is to think through what the objections will be by brainstorming. Common objections to any sale would be:
- Price/Value/Cost – The price is too high against the perceived value or what happens if I spend all this money and don’t get value? I can buy something else with this, why spend it on your solution?
- Time/Logistics – How is it delivered? Does it fit around our planning? Not ready yet, need it sooner or will take too long
- Credibility/Trust – The solution seems right, just don’t trust you to deliver, or the solution is unproven
- Politics – What will my boss think? Is this something I can approve? What happens if it goes wrong?
- Knowledge – I don’t know enough about this stuff! Is this true or are you BS’ing me?
Price is the famous one, but is surprisingly one of the easiest to overcome. In fact most objections come down to risk. Do not underestimate the fear of looking foolish, that is a big risk also for the decision maker.
Discover Sales Objections
The next step is to ask. Ask past customers, current customers and potential customers.
- “What concerns did you have?”
- “Is there anything that troubled you that might have stopped you buying?”
- “Was there anything we said that convinced you to go ahead?”
- “Do you have any questions or issues that concern you?”
- “Sorry to hear you are not going with us this time, was there anything in particular that prevented you from taking up our offer?”
Overcome the Objections
The whole point of this exercise is to get to the point where there are no objections because the customer is happy and secure in their decision to buy from you. That’s the dream scenario, but we can get there increasingly by incrementally improving our approach.
Take a look over those example objections (or risks) and you will see each has a way to overcome them built right in. Sometimes it takes some creativity and flexibility in your offer, sometimes just some more explanation, most of the time it is all about proof and credibility.
With price the best solution is to increase the perceived value rather than drop prices. This is where “bonuses” and “bundling” comes in. Price is also closely related to trust. Build your credibility to match your price.
A Word on Discounting
Discounting is a risky game.
Once you get into discounting and competing on price you are pretty well doomed. Don’t get me wrong, prices should be movable and something you control rather than fixed in stone, but not your main point of differentiation and never go down the road of communicating “cheaper” as your brand.
I do discount, but based on my business principals, not to make a sale. For example customers who work with me on long term commitments pay a lower rate than one-off, but they have to make the commitment (ie. not just a verbal promise) before they get the rate.
As risk is a huge issue in objections, it is good to have “introductory” or “sample” products where you can demonstrate your value and reliability. That is why my services are all short term packages that are easy to agree to. My customers take me for a test drive on, say, an hour call, then that leads to longer term projects when they get value from my advice.
Remove financial risk with a guarantee. Guarantees can also remove some of the internal reputation risk for the customer, although again credibility has a big part to play here also, eg. “No-one ever got fired for choosing IBM”.
The sneaky way to create a solution to overcome an objection is to talk through with customers what might make them happier in their decision (other than dropping the price). You won’t implement all their suggestions but it might give you some unique ideas.
Finally, put a contact form right where the customer can find it so they can ask questions, and keep a log of the most common questions and objections so that you can go back and answer them in your content.
Overcoming objections means making a case where you answer questions before they are thought of. While many people do not like long sales pages, if you artificially cut down the information just to keep it short you are going to find you have more objections dangling than you would like. Provide all the information the customer needs and they will make an informed purchase.
Next time you are considering a purchase, list all the things you are thinking about and any concerns you have, some of them might well be applicable to your own product or service. Also, next time you are “just looking”, think about why you are not in the market and what would put you from looking into buying mode.
Sales is all about psychology, and your existing customers and yourself can often be your best test subjects.