You’re in a meeting with a promising prospect. You review the project and the services you provide and then, just when you’re hoping to get the okay, the prospect raises an objection. They may tell you:
- “I haven”t got the time right now.”
- “Send me a written proposal and I’ll think about it.”
- “We already have a supplier.”
- “We prefer working with a larger company.”
- “Its too expensive.”
- “We really don’t need your services.”
- “I need to get approval from my boss.”
Has this ever happened to you? How do you respond? Are these the real problems, or is something else going on?
Prospects give objections like these when they still have a question about your company and the value of your services. If they tell you they’re looking for a larger firm, what they are really asking is, “Can your firm do the job?” “Do you have the resources to meet our needs?” “Won’t a larger company with more personnel give us better service?”
When a prospect tells you your product or services cost too much, what they are really asking is, “Are the benefits worth the money?” “How do I know if it will work?” “Will I get my money’s worth?” “How much money will I save or make by using this service?” “Won’t I save money by not using your service?”
When a prospect tells you, “I already have a supplier.” what they are really asking is, “How do I know I can trust you to provide the services?” “How do I know you’ll do a better job than my existing supplier?”
Prospects raise objections because they have questions about your company’s credibility, the solution your product or service provides and its value. Every buyer has these concerns.
Once you’ve done work for a client, selling them your services the second and third time around is much easier. They trust you, understand the solution you provide and recognize its value.
To eliminate objections, first acknowledge that most of prospects’ objections are based on three common underlying concerns.
- The solution you provide. Prospects want to know whether it’s a fit for the problem they are trying to solve. They want to know what it does and whom it has previously worked for.
- Your credibility. Unless they’ve purchased your products or services before, prospects need to know that you can be trusted to deliver.
- The value of your products and services. Whether it costs a few dollars or a few million, buyers want to understand the benefit of what they are buying in their terms.
Steps to Avoid Sales Objections
The best way to avoid having objections become last minute deal breakers is to take the following three steps to identify and address them in the course of your marketing.
1. Validate Objections.
Openly acknowledge common concerns in your marketing materials and presentations. If you are a small firm competing against larger companies, don’t try to sweep this obvious fact under the carpet. Point it out and use it to your advantage.
2. Understand Objections
Use questions to get prospects talking about each of their concerns. If you charge high prices for your services, ask them what their concerns are about price. With the right questions, you’ll find out where to take the discussion or how to refine your marketing strategy.
3. Educate Prospects
Once you have a clear idea of your prospects’ distinct priorities you can explain the benefits of using your high priced service or how the smaller size of your firm is actually to their advantage.
When to Address Sales Objections
The best time to address objections is in your marketing materials. You can use your brochure, your web site and other materials to validate prospects’ objections, understand their concerns and educate them. Assuming your prospects read your materials, you can use this approach to eliminate objections before you even have the first conversation with a prospect.
Of course, not all prospects will read everything you provide and some will have lingering concerns despite your best efforts. Until the sale takes place, you should assume that your prospects might have questions that need to be addressed. What can you do about these persistent objections?
Use your marketing conversations to get prospects to clarify their concerns so you can address each one. For example, don’t wait until the last minute to find out that the person you’ve been talking to needs to consult their boss. Early on in your marketing effort, ask them who needs to be part of the purchasing decision so you can include them from the start.
Prior to asking for the sale, get your prospect to identify:
- When would be the right time to use your services?
- What information do they want to see in a written proposal?
- What they like and don’t like about their existing supplier?
- What their financial or other objectives are?
- How a smaller company could better meet their needs?
- What benefits would justify the costs?
Your marketing objective is to make it as easy as possible for your prospects to become clients. Unanswered questions and concerns get in the way and result in lost sales. Eliminate these up front in your marketing and you’ll find many more prospects signing up to be clients.
Recommended Books on How to Eliminate Objections and Increase Sales:
- 25 Toughest Sales Objections-and How to Overcome Them
- Sales Objections: How to Handle Them
- New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development
- SPIN Selling
- Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale
Article originally published on November 20, 2004
Charlie Cook helps service professionals, small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up to receive the Free Marketing Strategy eBook, ‘7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’ at http://www.marketingforsuccess.com