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If you want to be successful in sales today, DON'T handle objections. There are so many courses and articles focused on how to make you effective at handling objections. Some titles are: Handle Every Objection, Close Every Sale, Use Your Prospect's Objections Against Them, etc.
Here's the problem. Handling objections is an Industrial Age concept. It comes from a product-first philosophy. The corporation needed sales reps to sell its product. Prospects who would not buy were a problem. Sales experts then anticipated all of the potential reasons a prospect might not buy and came up with approaches to address these objections. If the prospect says they can't afford it, say this. If they say they need to check with someone else, say this. When in doubt, use the "Feel, Felt, Found Formula" which goes like this: Really Mr. or Mrs. Prospect. I understand how you feel. Many of our customers felt the same way, until they found..." Successful sales reps came home with the order or the contract.
Handling Objections is Nonsense
In today's post-modern world, handling objections is nonsense. Avoid anyone who tells you they will train you or your people on handling objections. Success today is not defined by how much you sell but by how well your solutions get implemented and the success you bring to your clients. Consequently, the quality of your sales matters more than the quantity. Of course, quantity matters. You have to make your targets. But you must make your targets by delivering real value.
Real value is delivered over time. Superficial value does not stand the test of time. If you do not deliver real value, your brand will suffer. In this age where everyone has a voice and anyone can amplify their voice, you can't afford to deliver superficial value. This means that you must partner with your prospects to ensure you can deliver value to them and to minimize the risk of delivery.
Rather than "handle objections", the focus of your sales effort in the latter stages of the sale, must be on mitigating risk. Rather than wait for the prospect to bring up reasons why they are apprehensive about proceeding and being forced into a reactive position, why not partner with your prospect and proactively address this issue?
Prior to signing the contract, schedule a meeting with your prospect to address the issue of risk. You are in the business of helping your clients solve their problems. Remember, the issues you address are not your problems. They are your client's problems. This is an important realization. The burden is not on your shoulders; it's on your prospect's shoulders. You are there to help them remove the burden. Home Depot has the right idea. Their slogan is, "You can do it. We can help." You are there to help not to do everything. Sales professionals who don't realize this take on too much responsibility for the solution. Prospects knowingly or unknowingly collaborate with your sales rep to shift the burden of responsibility to your company. When things go wrong, you are to blame.
You Can Do It, We Can Help
Your sales team should make it clear to the prospect that your company is there to help. They should also make it clear that risk is involved. Sales professionals should proactively tell each prospect the nature of the risks they believe the prospect will face and solicit the prospect's opinions regarding what they believe the risks are. Once all the risks are on the table, they should be grouped into categories based on severity and likelihood. Together, the sales rep and the prospect should develop approaches to deal with the potential risks.
This approach keeps the responsibility where it belongs - with the prospect. It also develops trust and respect. More than ever, prospects are looking for partners not pitches. When you handle objections, you broadcast that you're only interested in making a sale. When you broadcast that you are only interested in making a sale, you trigger your prospect's defense mechanism. When you help your prospect mitigate risk, you broadcast, very clearly, that you are sincerely interested in building partnership. When you broadcast that you are interested in building a partnership, you inspire your prospect to connect with you.
About the Author:
Adrian Davis is President of Whetstone Inc., a management consulting firm, devoted to helping business-to-business organizations tap unrealized profit potential, forge deeper connections with their customers and unlock the power of their purpose and passion.
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