A lot of the sales literature on objections suggests that one should “overcome” them, providing the client with a reason to move forward despite their initial resistance. There is another view of objections that provides a more useful picture of a client’s initial resistance to agreeing to a commitment or a conversation. That view is that the objection masks the client’s real concern and that helping them move forward means resolving that concern to their satisfaction, allowing them to move forward.
There is no reason to fear objections. You are better off inviting client objections, as surfacing and resolving them is necessary for winning big deals.
Uncovers Real Concerns
Some outdated sales approaches suggest you should avoid objections altogether. In a complex sale, you prevent objections at your peril. The unaddressed concern that lingers through the process is the reason your client tells you they “need to meet with their team,” promising to “get back to you in a couple of weeks.”
The reason you want to invite objections is that you cannot resolve concerns if you are unaware of them. When a prospective client asks you to send information in response to your request for a meeting, they are not the least bit interested in reviewing any information you send them (even though I am sure your sales collateral is a galloping good story, the kind one cannot put down).
Your dream client’s real concerns are that your sales approach is going to be to straight pitch them and that you are going to waste their time. You resolve these concerns by addressing them directly, promising that you will not waste their time and promising enough value to get a yes.
Addresses Obstacles Early
Early objections (now concerns) help win big deals. The earlier you find out that your contacts are concerned about the additional investment they need to make or about transitioning from their existing partner to you and your company, the sooner you can engage them in a conversation that removes their fears.
B2B salespeople who do everything in their power to avoid uncovering obstacles to a deal early discover them late in the process, often when it is too late for them to do anything about it. Postponing the conversation about the required investment until you provide a proposal leaves you vulnerable to losing to competitors with a lower price, a fate you might have avoided by discussing it earlier when you had time to justify the difference.
If there is something that might prevent your contacts (and their purchasing agents) from moving forward with your solution, you want to identify them early.
Provides Time to Resolve Concerns
Some concerns require more time to resolve. The reason you want to identify them earlier rather than later is that the clock can work against your effort here.
When overcoming objections around your ability to execute, speaking to references or visiting one of your clients to verify your approach and your ability to provide results isn’t a risk. You need time to arrange the calls or visit. In a complex sale, gaining consensus takes time, and it introduces more concerns from more stakeholders and potential concerns from different parts of your dream client’s business.
Everyone wants deals to move faster and close sooner. We want velocity, but the way we approach it is to skip steps instead of addressing the needs of the buyer and what serves them. The longer you wait to address and resolve a concern, the less time you have to fix it. Moving faster—for you and your client—means addressing obstacles.
Provides Confidence in You as a Partner
Your contacts are deciding on who to buy from and who to add to their team. You want them to consider you as something more than a vendor (not a term you should find flattering) or a supplier (a name that should cause you to feel a certain sense of shame and embarrassment, as it suggests a transactional relationship). You want to be a strategic partner.
A strategic partner has the confidence to address and resolve the client’s concerns. When you are not afraid of the concerns, expecting them, and dispatching them effectively, you improve your chances of winning your client’s business through consultative sales. The fact that you can see through the objection and address the real concern proves you understand your contact’s fear. When you also possess the business acumen and situational knowledge to treat it effectively, you provide them with the confidence they need to move forward.
Let lesser salespeople avoid difficult conversations. Let your competitors fail the contacts and companies they call on by fearing objections and leaving the client’s concerns unaddressed. As a value creator and would-be trusted advisor, resolve the concerns, and prove your worth.
Clear the Path Forward
In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, I included a scenario for each of the ten commitments common in a consultative, business-to-business sale. Throughout those scenarios, I sprinkled in the most common “objections” or “concerns” you are going to encounter day-to-day because resolving them clears the path forward.
Many statistics suggest that would-be deals often end in “no-decision,” which for those of us in sales is the same as the decision “no.” When the contacts in your dream client have unresolved concerns, they do nothing—even when it harms them by allowing their problems and challenges to persist and prevent the better results available to them. Caring about your clients means addressing the concerns that prevent them from moving forward.
Winning big deals means having the conversations necessary to provide your clients with the certainty they need to move forward while creating a preference to work with you.
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