I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Objections can cause doubt and confusion for prospects and salespeople. This can frustrate your team members and cause them to avoid objections. But as you know, objection avoidance can lead to fewer sales.
As part of your sales coaching, help your team members embrace the philosophy that objections are a welcome and natural part of their sales conversations. When they learn the value of objections, they’ll be open to discovering more effective ways to leverage them to facilitate prospects’ buying decisions.
Here are three effective ways salespeople can respond to objections.
Influence prospects’ decision-making criteria
Often, prospects aren’t clear about the criteria they are using to make their buying decisions. This lack of clarity can be the root of many objections.
When coaching your team members, have them share the questions they ask to clarify their prospects’ decision-making criteria. But don’t be surprised if you discover your team members don’t ask questions about their prospects’ buying criteria. It’s not unusual.
It may be necessary to trigger their thinking with a sample question or two. For example:
“Have you had a chance to review the criteria you are using to make your decision?”
“Would you like to know the criteria other clients have used when they made their decisions?”
“Would it be helpful if I went through some of the criteria others have used who have successfully solved similar challenges?”
Questions such as these open the door for conversations about buying criteria and builds trust with prospects.
Tell a relevant story
A true client success story can be one of the most persuasive ways to increase a prospect’s product understanding. In your sales coaching sessions, have them also practice how they will connect the story to specific prospect objections.
For example, you might help your team members prepare by asking them which stories they would use with a price-sensitive prospect. Recognize that your team members might know a good client story but may not be able to use it effectively in a sales conversation. Coach them through role plays so you can see how they use the story in context.
When coaching your team members to use client stories in response to prospects’ objections, these four simple guidelines can be valuable:
A simple question from your team members before they share a story can help direct the conversation and better engage prospects. Their question can be as simple as, “Would it be helpful if I shared what another client did in a similar situation?”
Provide helpful information
Prospects won’t always believe what your team members say in response to objections, so you will need to coach them on how to cross the credibility gap. For such cases, coach your team members on how to support their statements with credible, verifiable industry-specific data such as reports, comparison charts, primary research, consumer reports or other materials.
For example, your team members might be able to show a price-sensitive prospect that more than 75 percent of clients make back their investment within a year of purchase.
Again, coach your team members to ask a question before they start to share any data. Using the example above, they could do this by asking, “Would you like some additional information about how soon others have recouped their investment?”
Which method to use? Ask the prospect
When salespeople discover these three methods for addressing objections, they often mistakenly believe it’s up to them to decide which of the three they should use. Experience shows that the most effective way for salespeople to determine the best method is to ask prospects. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it works.
Mix and match when appropriate. These three ways of responding to objections (criteria, stories, information) are not mutually exclusive.
Your team members might share details about the criteria a client used to deal with a situation similar to what their prospects are facing – a mix of “criteria” and “story.” Or, share some statistical information to help prospects clarify their decision-making criteria.
Remind your team members of the sales-conducive sales philosophy that objections are a welcome and natural part of the sales process. Prepare your team members to have their criteria questions, stories and information ready so they can better address objections, and sell more.
Peri Shawn is co-founder of the Coaching and Sales Institute and author of “Preventing Sales Crimes: Coaching Secrets for Sales Leaders.” She helps sales executives and their teams sell more, better, sooner and more often without needing to take even a day off for training. You can reach her via email at Peri@CoachingandSalesInstitute.com.