In the first article of a five-part series, Barrett Consulting founder, Sue Barrett, explores the ways sales and marketing teams can minimise client objections.
For many sales and marketing professionals, customer complaints are one of their biggest bugbears. While it’s never nice to be on the receiving end of aggro, most of the time it can be diffused (or avoided altogether) if the relationship is handled properly from the outset.
Alas, many businesses believe client objections are par for the course. This attitude equals a missed opportunity to boost both customer satisfaction and the well-being of your workforce.
So, how do you eliminate objections? It’s pretty simple really. Make sure you have an established, company-wide communications process in place that everyone in a client-facing role knows inside-out.
Ensure both parties understand where the customer is coming from: what they value; what their real priorities are and why; and how sophisticated are they. Once you have a clearer picture of your clients’ motivations, use your best communication skills to create a dynamic, productive sales and buying experience.
Don’t confuse an objection with a question or concern. Often customers simply seek greater understanding about your product or service to ascertain whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer synergies exist. Sales and marketing professionals should welcome these enquiries rather than feel defensive. It shows the customer is engaged and seeks common ground to build a working relationship upon.
A negative response to client queries is likely to lead to objections. If there’s a misunderstanding, make it a priority to correct it. Similarly, if there’s doubt, try to resolve it as quickly as possible. And the second you spot any limitations that aren’t in line with your client’s expectations, flag the issue and offer solutions while ensuring the issue remains in perspective.
Common causes for client objections
If at any stage you encounter strong objections or indecision from your customer, it may indicate one or more of the following problems exist:
- You didn’t really understand your customer’s/prospect’s needs or priorities in the first place and tried to put forward inappropriate solutions
- Your customer/prospect doesn’t perceive a need for your products/services. Example: they maybe an uninformed buyer
- Your customer/prospect is not looking for a solution. Example: they’re just on a fact-finding mission
- You haven’t shown your customer/prospect what they think they need. Example: there’s a mismatch between what you perceive as important and what they perceive as important
- Your customer/prospect can’t see any real value in your offering
- Your customer/prospect isn’t ready to buy yet
- Your customer/prospect doesn’t have confidence in you or your company
- Your customer/prospect has unrealistic expectations you’ll never meet
- Your customer/prospect has an agenda or loyalties that you’re unaware of. Example: they have a pre-existing bias and are unlikely to buy from you no matter what
These situations and many more are a reality of selling. By ensuring everyone’s in the know about what to expect, you can minimise the need to object.
Handling real objections
When you do come across a real objection, handle it with care:
- Deal with the objection straight away, don’t ignore it
- Empathise with the feelings expressed by your client by remaining calm and using positive language. Talk about what can be done, rather than raising objections of your own
- Actively listen, question and solve problems and avoid making personal judgements
- Ask questions to determine the real objection
- Restate objections to clarify the issue and gain agreement from the customer about what you’ve understood their real concern to be
- Work toward seeing the situation from the customer’s perspective
- Select a course of action which may include negotiating a solution
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Visit www.barrett.com.au