Partners in Performance Blog

How to Turn Client Objections into Sales Success

Key-To-Sales-SuccessOne of the questions I get when training sales professionals is almost always about handling client objections. Sales people seem to dread this part of the sales process. That’s because they don’t prepare for them well, and don’t have a positive perception of objections. I look at them as a key learning device for uncovering the client’s needs. Yes, I look at objections not as barriers but as clues to achieve sales success through understanding what clients want.

I recently asked Jim, one of my colleagues, for an update on the sales opportunity he had been pursuing with one of the top professional service firms. In previous conversations he sounded cautiously optimistic. He was on a shortlist of two and all the indications were there that he would land the deal.

During his initial discovery meeting he had elicited the client’s decision criteria and he was confident that his solution was a fit. He had done a lot of things right but sadly, the firm chose the other contender. He was shocked. It turns out he was more than cautiously optimistic. He was overly confident.

When I asked him why they weren’t selected he said he didn’t know – yet. Surprisingly after all the time, energy and value that Jim delivered in the process, they informed him of the outcome in an email. Wow! But courage kicked in and he followed up and has a scheduled meeting with the client to debrief the result. Smart man. If you don’t succeed in getting the business at least get the lessons learned.

But here is where he wasn’t so smart. The client had certainly asked plenty of questions throughout the process but had not raised any major concerns or objections. I asked Jim if he had smoked out potential barriers to winning the deal in the final stages of the sales process. Sadly he had not. It seems his mindset was like a search light looking for positive indications.

The mind shift that would have better served Jim is this: Objections are not barriers or obstacles – they are clues to understanding client needs.

While the best strategy for handling client objections is to proactively prevent them in the first place (or at least minimize them), there is no escaping objections. It’s a natural part of the buying/selling experience.

Voicing concerns is an important way customers express their needs. Research reveals that objections are critical for success and calls with objections are more likely to result in success than those without. A resourceful way to view objections is that they are simply a request for more information.

So bring them on! Be intentional. I’m of the school that it’s wise to smoke out unspoken objections with a key question like:

If there was one thing that might get in the way of moving forward with us what might that be?”

There are three things to note about the structure of this key question:

  1. I am not asking for multiple barriers. I am only asking for ONE. The intent is to smoke out the MAIN objection or concern.
  2. The words “moving forward with us” is imbedded in the question and suggests that we will move forward once the objection is successfully handled.
  3. The word ‘might’ is soft and gently encourages the customer to reveal what might otherwise not be spoken.

I’d rather know and have the opportunity to influence the outcome. Much better to win the deal than get the lessons learned.

I’ll be writing more about this topic so don’t miss out.

This entry was posted by Tanja Parsley on December 2, 2014 in Client Stories, Handling Objections, Intentional Selling™, Sales Skills. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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