The Fifth Step in a Sales Cycle: Overcoming Objections
The Selling Starts After the First "No"
If there were no objections in a sales cycle, everyone would be in sales. Closing a deal would take nothing more than handing over a pen and instructing the customer where to sign. In the real world, however, sales and interviews are filled with objection after objection. And the only way to close a deal is to effectively overcome the main objection and a majority of the minor objections.
The Road to Objections
Assuming that you will hear objections (which you will) during your sales or interview cycle, the first critical skill is to draw out all of your customer's or interviewing manager's objections. There are no hard and fast rules about drawing out objections, but if you've followed the steps to sales and interviewing process as defined in this series of articles, you will have already overcome several objections and will be aware of many others. During the prospecting step, objections will be front and center. If you were able to advance to the building rapport stage, know that you overcame the biggest objection in at least getting the initial lines of prospect defense.
Most of the objections you will face will be drawn out during the presentation step. During this step, you will be telling your customer why your product, service or skills will help them meet their needs. Some customers will be free to offer their objections to your presentation, while others will hold their feelings close to their vests.
To identify the objections, you need to ask questions and, more importantly, trial closing questions. If your product will satisfy more than one need, you need to ask if your customer agrees that you will be able to help them with their needs. If they agree, move on to the next benefit. If they don't agree, realize that you've just uncovered an objection and it's time to start selling.
Main and Minor Objections
Objections are either "main" or "minor" ones. Main objections are deal breakers that, if not overcome, will prevent you from closing the deal or securing the job. Minor objections are usually beliefs that cause your customer will question something about you, your product, your service or your company.
Distinguishing between main and minor takes a combination of experience and acuity. An experienced professional will expect certain objections from customers based on what many other customers objected to. Less experienced professionals will need to rely on their listening skills and acuity. Acuity refers to your "sixth sense" that tells you when something is not going as well as you would like. Developing your acuity gives you the ability to tell when a customer or interviewing manager is in agreement with you or is questioning something. While there is no replacement for experience, acuity can be built by learning effective questioning skills, learning to read body language and learning how to listen.
Don't Do too Good of a Job
While it is important to draw out objections, it is even more important not to help your customer think up more objections. In other words, if the person you are meeting with agrees with a declaration you've made, move on and don't bring up any additional details.
For "customer owned" objections, your main focus should be to get as much detail about the objection as possible. Often, main objections are nothing more than a bunch of minor objections stacked up together. And if you don't know the reasoning behind the objections, there is no way to tear it down. Again, asking questions is more important than talking more about your product, service or self.
If you ask enough questions about why your customer objects to something, they will reveal their reasons and may even instruct you on to how to overcome them, but if you don't ask questions, you may very well be fighting a lost battle.