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Sales Strategy
Don’t Throw Away Good Opportunities: 9 Steps to Turning Objections into Opportunities
May 17, 2012 | Patrick Tinney lock

“A desire can overcome all objections and obstacles.” –Unknown

Opportunity objections during a sale or negotiation are the gateway to truly understanding what the customer really believes and wants.  An opportunity objection is also what is standing in between a great proposal sale and a converted customer who is satisfied with the sales negotiation process and the purchase they are about to make.

If there are no objections in a sale or negotiation, then we as sales professionals and negotiators have become nothing more than clerks writing orders that have absolutely no stretch or positive risk associated with them.  In other words, we are managing transactions of commoditized stuff!

Most sales professionals do not practice handling objections, so they try to manage this process by thinking on their feet.  By doing so, they are counter-punching with customers, packed with personal anxiety and using phases such as “we’ve already thought of that…”  This does not take the customer’s worries away; rather, it shelves their concerns, and, to a degree, makes the customer look uneducated for asking a legitimate question with potential personal exposure.  Making the customer feel dumb is not a great way to close a sale or build a much-needed relationship.

The following 9 steps will help you succeed with opportunity objections:

1) Listen 

If a customer raises a concern or worry, they are doing so to mitigate risk. Listening intensely to our customers is paramount.  Don’t interrupt.  As a customer, if I get the sense that my sales professional does not care about my risk, I will slow down the sales process until I feel that the risk is in check or, worse yet, just walk away.

2) Rephrase
By rephrasing the customer’s concern or worry, we as sales professionals have acknowledged that there is a potential blocker to a sale that must be addressed.  It also means we are getting a clearer sense of the customer’s objectives.

3) Empathy

Letting the customer know that we empathize with their worry or concerns brings us closer to them.  It’s a relationship-builder.  It’s a trust-builder.  No amount of money in the world can buy trust.  It must be earned and protected.

4) Query

Asking well-crafted high gain questions will get to the bottom of most concerns.  The worry could be safety, financial, past bad experiences.  We must uncover the nature of the concern to have any hope of neutralizing it in order for the sales and negotiation processes to move forward.

5)  Creative Solutions

Now that we have a better understanding of our customer’s worry by asking great, high gain questions, we can set to work our ability as a sales professional to reshape the offer or proposal to fit the customer’s eye.  Think scale, innovation, service, quality, delivery timelines, payment plans.  Leave price as a last resort and only if we are profitable.

6) Collaboration

Openly problem-solving with a customer is the pinnacle of consultative selling.  It signals that customer and sales professional are opening up their minds to arrive at a greater solution and fulfillment for both.  Collaboration is the “green shoot” of future profitable transactions.

7) Our POD

Our ability to truly express our “Point of Difference” at this stage of solving opportunity objections is what will separate us from our competitors.  Our POD also has the ability to reduce commoditization.

8) Benefits

After addressing an opportunity objection and having explored the core of the customer’s concerns and needs with an array of solutions, we are now able to talk about benefits.  Not just any benefits; they must connect us emotionally to the customer and make them feel safer, more creative, smarter, more efficient, relaxed and less exposed.  Think of these as benefits on steroids.

9) Trial Close
If, as a top level sales person, you have guided your concerned customer through her/his opportunity objection using the above process, you are ready and the customer is primed for a trial close.  See if the sale and negotiation can now be closed with a question such as “Valued customer…when and where would you like to begin to enjoy this great program?”

As a sales manager and mentor said to me many years ago….

”When a customer says no…they are just asking for more information.  Until that point we are all just taking orders.” -Bobby Hillier

About the Author:
Patrick Tinney is a Certified Print Production Practitioner (CPPP). He is a double graduate of Sheridan College, a founding Director of the Flyer Distribution Standards Association of Canada and a member of the Canadian Society of Training and Development. Patrick is also an active Advisory Committee member for the Sheridan College, Advertising Program. Patrick is the founder of Centroid Training and Marketing. For more information or to comment, please contact patrick@centroidmarketing.com.
      

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.


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