In fact, once the sales professional enters the scene, many customers already have a fully formed picture of what they believe is the best way forward. This trend has become a problem for two reasons.
- The customer’s perception of the problem may be incomplete or inaccurate.
- The customer’s preconceived notion may anchor them to solutions that are not best suited to solving their business challenges.
As a result, sales professionals face more objections. Here, we look at five ways in which professionals can resolve sales objections.
Objections often stem from cognitive dissonance, which is a tendency to discount, dismiss, or oppose information that is new or conflicts with our beliefs because it creates emotional discomfort.
Sales professionals can diffuse feelings of defensiveness by making sure that the customer knows that they’ve been heard. It’s easy to resort to a pattern of talking and then thinking about what to say next. Doing so distracts from the customer’s words. This distraction is a problem because often the path to the sale is in the customer’s words. That is, understanding their stance, even if it’s an oppositional one, clarifies the customer’s needs.
Understanding someone requires concentration and understanding. This “active listening” involves focusing on the customer’s word choice, inflection, and intonation. Becoming attuned to the details of the customer’s responses is important because it clarifies needs.
Beware of self-serving motivations and environmental distractions, all of which hinder active listening.
Finally, take the time to demonstrate that you’ve heard the objection and understand the customer’s message. Understanding doesn’t mean you agree with the customer; it simply means that you’re creating an environment where they can be heard.
2. Ask Questions
Sales professionals can resolve objections with thoughtful questioning. This skill is among the most lacking in business today.
After interviewing hundreds of professionals, The Harvard Business Review reported that “from the customer’s point of view, the greatest need for improvement is in salespeople’s knowledge of the customer’s business and industry.” The finding comes after comparing the inconsistencies between what sales professional believe is expected of them and what the customer wants. Moreover, the research spans industries as varied as financial services, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.
Effective questioning starts by providing the rationale for the inquiry. This preface encourages customers to share information. However, questioning shouldn’t be an interrogation.
Sales professionals need to earn the right by balancing their questions with insights. By offering relevant ideas, the sales professional establishes credibility. As the sales professional moves through these questions, they must acknowledge what the customer said as they lead to the next question because it’s too easy for the customer to disengage amid everyday distractions.
3. Use Phrasing and Feedback
The “framing effect” is a psychological principle asserting that the same person will make two different choices depending on how information is presented.
Research from the Journal of General Internal Medicine supports this idea. More than half of the patients studied “chose the medication whose benefits was in relative terms.” Meanwhile, less than 15% chose the medication when practitioners expressed the benefits in absolute terms. That is, patients experienced greater motivation when doctors described the benefits in comparison to another choice. Hearing the benefits without context was less compelling.
Sales professionals can use the framing effect by emphasizing the value in relative terms. Lastly, follow framing with feedback. Remember, the risks associated with not knowing the customer’s outlook are greater than any negativity that the question may elicit. Though it may feel unnatural, checking for feedback is critical.
4. Foster Trust
The sales cycle is often long, and an objection is rarely the end of the road. In the meantime, sales professionals still have opportunities to build trust and credibility with follow-up.
Delivering on a promise, no matter how small, earns the customer’s “knowledge-based” trust, which develops from actions that are consistent with words. Therefore, follow-up is critical. Sharing and recording information about the call shortly after hanging up is important to preserving the details.
In many cases, the follow-up requires coordination on the part of others. Therefore, the sales professional must remember that even if others are expected to send additional material, it is their job to ensure that it happens. Keep internal communication consistent.
5. Leverage a Strong Value Statement
As competitive pressures rise, customers need solutions that offer a strong ROI.
Many objections arise from a belief that the solution will fail to deliver on this need. Therefore, sales professionals need a carefully crafted value statement linking the sales professional’s capabilities to the customer’s challenges.
The value statement must address what’s important to the customer, how the sales professional can help, and what outcomes can be expected. Ensure that such a statement speaks from the customer’s perspective and offers ideas that are specific to their industry.
A value statement is effective because it’s brief. With a concise articulation of value, a sales professional can form a connection. This connection bolsters the professional’s presence, which helps resolve sales objections.
Objections are a normal part of the sales cycle. Hearing one shouldn’t dissuade sales professionals. Instead, it should be seen as an indication that the customer is thinking critically about the solution and willing to engage in a dialogue.