Writing for the Salesforce.com blog, successful businessman and internationally renowned sales consultant Walter Rogers, CEO of Baker Communications, tackles the biggest issue that every salesperson faces on almost a daily basis: overcoming objections.
“Customer objections can be difficult to handle, and many sales professionals fear this situation. However, objections communicate important and valuable information about customer concerns, needs and fears. Most objections can be effectively handled with a simple reframing process that puts the issue into perspective.
Customer objections can revolve around an array of issues. They may have concerns about the sincerity of the salesperson, the quality of the product, the reliability of service, the price, or the amount of risk involved.
Four Types of Objections
Objections can be generally classified into four types:
Price, cost, budget, or ROI concerns all fall into this category. Price objections are often really about risk. If the sales representative has justified the cost by building value during the interaction, the customer will be less worried.
2. Quality of Service
If the customer is concerned about the quality of your products or services—e.g., they express doubts about product quality, the training of your personnel, speed or responsiveness of service, or compatibility—these are examples of quality of service concerns.
The customer might be concerned with the legitimacy or credibility of you or your company. (This indicates that a good relationship has not been established between the salesperson and the client.)
Customers sometimes attempt to stall their decision. The closer the sale is to closing, the more pressure the customer feels, and if there is any remaining conflict or anxiety (or no sense of urgency) they may try to stall.
If you have anticipated and prepared for the four types of objections, you won’t panic when an objection comes up. Remember that the customer is behaving quite normally for anyone about to take a risk and make a purchase. The customer is uncertain about making a change, and needs reassurance.
The best course of action is to direct their focus back to the larger context in which the purchase is being made. Recapitulating the clear and logical reasons to buy will help stabilize the customer’s emotions. Your response to an objection should be an attempt to reframe the objection so that the customer understands the bigger picture. Bring up benefits to your clients that outweigh any deficits, or provide countering evidence or missing information.
Reframing has four parts:
1. Question to understand the customer’s reasoning and determine his emotional state: “Why do you feel the price is too high?”
2. Minimize by reframing the objection using closed questions to get him back on track: “So you are saying you’re concerned about ROI. Are you looking at the impact on your overall costs?”
3. Compare risks and benefits previously agreed to, or provide evidence or missing information using a FAB (Features, Advantages and Benefits) statement: “We’re offering a custom solution that will help you better meet your customer’s needs and eliminate downtime, which will have a tremendous positive impact on your bottom line.”
4. Question his acceptance using closed questions: “Do you feel that this custom solution will help your relationship with your customers? Will that be of value to your company?”
Buyer panic is actually a positive sign that the process is moving forward. Once the customer is convinced of the value you are offering and has agreed that it is worth the risk, you have successfully handled the objection and can move toward a purchasing decision.
—Walter Rogers has created and led businesses in 13 countries on three continents, has been interviewed on hundreds of television shows on the topics of sales, CRM, sales management and corporate productivity, is on the Advisory Board of DePaul University Center for Sales Leadership. He was a Texas eCommerce Awards finalist for two consecutive years. His passion for CRM-enabled sales performance transformation inspired his two books, “Pathways to Growth,” co-written with business partner Tony Robbins, and “Spark!”