I was reading a blog post the other day, it posed the question: “What’s the worst objection?” There were a lot of interesting responses and amusing war stories, but I was surprised that one, the one I think is most significant, was not raised.
To my mind, the worst objection is the objection (or issue or concern) that is never asked. Too often, I think this may be why we lose sales, we have created an environment where the customer has not raised a key concern or objection.
Objections are great, they create a forum for discussion. They demonstrate the customer is engaged. Objections tell you where you stand with the customer and give you an indication of what you need to do to improve your ability to win.
There are varying schools of thought about whether sales people should pre-empt objections by raising them and addressing them before the customer poses them. There are others about stimulating objections, perhaps through being provocative. I’m not sure where I stand on those issues, or whether they are really important in the overall scheme of things.
What is important is that the sales professional creates an environment, a dialog, that makes the customer comfortable in raising whatever issues or concerns they have about the solution or the situation.
While, I’m on the topic, let me spend a few moments on objections. I am constantly amazed by the fear and avoidance reaction I see with many sales people. Objections are great, I am excited to get objections—which doesn’t mean that I can always respond to them adequately—but at least objections tell me the customer is listening, engaged, and is interested enough to challenge me.
Generally, I find 98% of all objections fall into one of these categories:
- We have failed to understand the customer, their needs, priorities, and what they are trying to accomplish.
- We have failed to communicate adequately to the customer, so they haven’t understood us or the solutions we are proposing.
- There are legitimate differing points of view that need to be reconciled.
These are all great opportunities to engage the customer and test how you stand in creating a valuable solution for them. It’s a deadly mistake to think the customer is being stupid when they raise an objection–more often it’s the stupidity of the salesperson thinking this.
The final 2% of objections fall into the category that the customer is being a jerk. In my experience, it’s rare, but it does happen. Often it’s an indicator they should be disqualified–you may be wasting their time. Sometimes they are trying to prove how smart they are to you, their peers, or bosses.
Make sure you create an environment that engages the customer in a dialog and makes them feel comfortable in raising all their concerns, regardless of how trivial they may seem to you. You’ll establish deeper relationships and win more often.