How do I handle customer objections without being pushy?
In the summer of 1997 I sat in a room along with six other new recruits to a domestic security company. It was my first full time sales role and I was eagerly awaiting our first day of what was promised to be ‘professional sales training’.
From the start of the training I was told that sales people were merely paid objection handlers and that the only mission was commission – Not a very glamorous or customer centric view point on being a sales professional and it wasn’t long before I decided that this particular employer and I should part company. However, my few weeks of knocking doors in the rain, making 100s of phone calls to generate leads for the business and being chased down the street by the odd dog did teach me some valuable lessons (along with all the books I started to read on sales skills).
A professional sales role first and foremost is about generating a result for your business; developing new accounts, driving growth, margins and your brand’s reputation in the market place. Selling professionally is about helping people and achieving a level of rapport where there is complete trust between both parties. The sales person should put the genuine best interests of their customer at the forefront of everything they do and the customer in return will treat them as a member of their own team rather than a representative of an outside company. The customer gets great support, products and service and in return the sales person gets their business and all the rewards that come with it. In an ideal world this relationship would exist from the very beginning and with very little effort. Trust however is built over time and belief in yourself and your products is built from the customer’s own experiences with you.
Before you reach this point of sales Nirvana with your customer the fact of the matter is – they are going to object to you. They are going to object to your phone calls, they are going to object to your products and services, they are going to object to your prices and they are going to object to giving you any business. If you are going to make a difference to your sales results you have to accept that before you achieve a business relationship you are going to have to fight for your opportunity to sell and learn to handle all objections that are given to you.
In the first few seconds of a phone call you will receive many opening objections, some of them justified and some of them not. They are not based on fact but on experiences of calls that the customer has received before. Any objection in the first few seconds of a phone call, regardless of what is said, all mean one thing – go away!
· “I’ve not got time”
· “The budget has gone”
· “It’s too expensive”
· “We don’t need you”
· “We are happy with our current supplier”
· “It doesn’t work for us”
How many of these sound familiar?
In the opening minutes of a sales call any of these objections cannot possibly mean ‘after thorough consideration of your products and services and the potential return on investment to our company we have taken a detailed fiscal decision that now is not a good time for us to move forward with you’. How could it mean that? You’ve barely got passed hello. They cannot have made a rational decision. What these objections (when early on in a call) mean is ‘oh no! Another sales call! Go away!’
At this very early stage in the relationship if you disagree with the customer, tell them they are wrong or argue with them you are strengthening their position of you being just another sales call. To move the sale forward show empathy for their position. Yes, you are another sales call and you are aware that they get many every day, but you have a great idea you would like to talk about, you want two minutes on the phone then they can make up their mind. This approach is what I would term passionately pushy. If you give up at the first objection you will never get further into the sale. If you genuinely believe you can help them, push! The difference between being persistent and being a nuisance is persistent people demonstrate value with every interaction whereas nuisance people repeat the same proposition over and over again.