“No” can come on the phone, before you’ve ever met the person, or while you’re shaking that person’s hand. Getting past “no” and learning how to overcome objections in sales is an important skill for sellers that must continually be practiced.
In sales training sessions on overcoming objections in sales, I always ask participants how they feel when someone resists or turns them down. I guide the conversation toward recognizing the opportunity in what seems like a rejection.
Some people are naturals at overcoming objections in sales; the rest of us benefit from practicing a step-by-step, client-focused model.
4 Steps to Overcome Objections in Sales Using a Client-Focused Model
The best way to overcome objections is to understand the underlying concern. An effective process for doing this involves the following skills:
STEP 1: Relating — Acknowledge or Empathize
By making a statement of acknowledgment or empathy, you let the client or prospect know his/her concerns have been heard. Both your tone of voice and your words should be appropriate and genuine and avoid any signs of defensiveness or frustration. This helps to reduce negativity and helps you connect with the client.
STEP 2: Question
Ask a clarifying question to make sure you understand the specific objection being raised, then listen carefully to the response and probe deeper. Most of the time, the initial objection isn’t really the true problem. Getting to the heart of the matter can be two or three or more open-ended questions away. “What do you mean by that?” “What do you like better about the old technology?”
STEP 3: Position
Respond in a way that tailors your answer to the expressed concerns, and do so in a concise and specific way. “You said my company is too difficult to work with and that, specifically, it was the billing system that caused problems last year. Since then, our IT department has revamped our systems and introduced some upgrades to make everything run smoother.”
STEP 4: Check
Ask questions to get feedback on how well your response satisfies the objection. Questions also help to keep the dialogue open and interactive. “I understand there were some problems last year, and we’ve taken steps to change the process. How well does this revised approach work for you?”
There’s one particular objection that I like to talk about in training sessions: when the prospect or customer says, “I love your competitor.” In this situation, you can say, “It sounds like you have a great relationship with the competition.” Say this in all sincerity. Then, follow up with: “What do you love about them?” The answer that they give tells you the minimum you have to do to gain their confidence, and then, you have to kick it up a notch by adding value.
I often use a personal example in training from years ago, when I first moved to Denver. I called an older gentleman who agreed to let me come out to meet him. When I got there, we shook hands, and he said, “I’m so glad you came by, but I’ll never ever use you.” When I asked why, he said, “Because I love Jim, your competition.” So, I probed further and found out that both men were from Minnesota, they were buddies in the mining industry, and Jim frequently wined and dined him.
I knew I had to do the same things, at a minimum, and then bring him more value. It took me two years, but I eventually won the account. But, I couldn’t have done it without first knowing why he loved Jim so much.
One of the best ways to overcome objections in sales is all about keeping the conversation and dialogue going. There’s no room for being defensive, so leave your feelings on the sidelines. Show the client or prospect that you hear what he/she is saying, that you care about his/her concerns, and that you’re really and truly listening.