It could be as simple as a direct question to gain better understanding, or it could be as subtle as trying to assess a competitor’s claim. It could also be as uncertain as trying to second guess other decision makers within the customer’s organization.
Recognizing and addressing sales objections is critical to moving opportunities through the sales pipeline. Working with customers to resolve their concerns builds trust and credibility, as sales professionals demonstrate their commitment to truly meeting customers’ needs — not just pushing their company’s products.
In today’s environment of ultra-informed buyers, customers increasingly push back against canned sales messages and unclear benefits. They test potential partners, throwing up objections that are sometimes raised only to see how the sales professional will act. They want to know their questions will be answered and their concerns addressed. As a result, sales professionals have to demonstrate their ability to handle objections and keep the dialogue moving in order to be seen as credible and valued partners.
4 Steps to Successfully Resolving Sales Objections
To do this takes four simple steps, which together form the basis of Richardson’s objection resolution model:
- Neutrally acknowledge the objection
- Ask open-ended questions to understand what is really driving the objection
- Position a response, based on the customer’s answers to these questions
- Check to be sure that the response satisfies the customer’s concern
Long-Term Benefits of Successfully Resolving Sales Objections
By honing skills in objection resolution, sales professionals gain benefits beyond any specific sale.
- They maintain and strengthen relationships with prospects and customers.
- They move the sales cycle forward without being defensive or confrontational.
- They keep sales dialogues positive, focused, and consultative.
- They gain confidence in handling tough conversations.
- They don’t devalue their own solution.
Sometimes, customers have strong feelings about their objections and display strong emotions. Or they have bad information or mistaken impressions. Whatever the content or context of the objection, sales professionals strengthen their credibility by showing empathy to diffuse any negativity, while avoiding their own defensiveness or aggressiveness. They reinforce relationships by asking questions and demonstrating sincere interest in learning more.
Unless sales professionals truly understand customers’ concerns, their responses cannot be as on-target and specific as they would be if they knew the whole picture. Just as important, sales professionals should probe to find out the nature of the concern, who specifically is concerned, and what has provoked the particular concern to be raised at this time.
Not every objection can be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. And it is likely that some deals will be lost — and maybe even some relationships. Still, the best approach, when it comes to objections, is to be prepared and to handle them with expressed concern for uncovering and meeting customers’ real needs. That is something no customer can object to.