Objections are opportunities in the selling process | Sunday Observer

Objections are opportunities in the selling process

A successful, skilled and accomplished salesman welcomes objections from the prospective customer during a sales negotiation. It is not only an invitation to a sale but one of the most important contributory factors in the selling process.

If the client is not interested in purchasing, he or she would not be asking questions but dismiss the salesman. Objection of prospect is the clearest sign that he or she offers you an opportunity to buy your service or product. Hence, managing such an objection successfully and efficiently is probably the most important element in the personal selling process, whether it is a face to face presentation or correspondence based negotiation.

Let us first define and understand what a sales objection is. This can be a general question or clarifying possible doubts about anything related to the product or service the prospect hopes to purchase. Even if it may sound like a rejection, the salesperson must assume that it is the best opportunity he/she gets from the prospect.

If the prospect questions, it means you have generated interest in your product. However, there can be some instances where the prospect in reality wants to reject and move away from the situation. The salesperson should identify this behaviour and stop pursuing such prospects to avoid time wasting.

Most often objections are requests for more information. They simply mark the level of interest of the prospect to alert you to take the most appropriate action to close the sale. A skilled salesman converts the objections into opportunities to create a relationship and produce influence on the buying decision. Therefore, the salesperson should manage the objections successfully and overcome negative impact if there is any.

Building relationships

Objections build lasting relationships with customers more often than not even if the sale is not realised. Conversations started by objections help you better understand a prospect’s needs and wants. If you build relationships even without a sale, you create a second chance to approach him on a later date to sell another product. A good and cordial relationship with a customer can continue indefinitely because you can establish a strong foundation of lasting trust.

Objections raised during sales negotiations must be considered as a positive part of the selling process. Hence, preparing for the objections is a vital element. It can be either a common query about the product or the organisation where the salesperson is familiar or a specific objection subjective to the prospect. In both cases, a good salesman anticipates and gets ready to answer. In the selling process, this is called pre-handling objection.

During the pre-qualification stage of the selling process, sales people are trained to research and find out every possible detail about the prospect. This is very essential if the prospect’s needs are related to industrial or consumer durables. However, customer research in any type of selling situation is useful to understand the actual buying situation. If you do this homework, you can anticipate the likely objections from the prospect. Unlike old days, the internet has made this task much easier with data of many of the prospects available freely.

The ‘Expectancy theory of motivation’ proposed by Victor Vroom of Yale School of Management is a good theory to understand. In simple language, it means ‘what is in it for me’. That is why a prospect is raising objections. He or she wants to know what optimum benefits are available for him in the deal. The theory explains that individuals can be motivated towards a goal (buying decision in this instance) if they believe that there is a positive correlation between the objection and your response to that.

Four reasons

Usually prospects voice their objections in different ways. However, commonly they belong to one of the four reasons: not enough money, no real need, no urgency and no confidence in the credibility of the seller. A professional salesman has control over every one of these objections. When you have adequate knowledge about the prospects profile, it is always easy to pre-manage the issue. If you are properly prepared to meet a customer, you can actually handle the prospect’s doubts during any step of the selling process, simply because you know everything about him.

Objections of a prospect come in several different categories. However, there are six main types into which these objections fall. They are product, price, source, finance, already decided and most often ‘I will think about it’. Your own approach as a professional on how to manage any of these objections makes the difference of success or failure in the negotiation. Let us briefly learn how a salesperson can effectively overcome such an objection.

It is imperative that queries from the prospect must be viewed as questions and definitely not as objections. In my long career in selling, I have many times come across immature salesmen who take these objections as a personal attack. Depending on the personal behaviour of the prospect, the question may sound aggressive or irritating.

The job of the salesman is to treat such behaviour in the context of ‘allow the customers to be right even when they are not’. This undoubtedly makes the conversation more positive rather than a defensive one for the salesperson.

Right question

Asking the right question at the right time in the selling process is critical. Responding to the prospect’s objection with a question can be productive. The benefit is twofold. On the one hand it gives you time to think of the best response. It also engages the prospect in a positive dialogue and gives the negotiation more cordiality as a conversation. Restating or repeating the question is another good strategy to manage objections. It displays that you have listened to the prospect carefully and understood the basis of his objection. This act can please any prospect as it is visible to them that the salesperson has empathy.

If you are not repeating, rephrasing or asking the objection as a question, it is best to ‘pause’ a few seconds before responding. You must do it while keeping eye contact with the prospect to dispel any doubt that you are hesitating. That action should look as a sign of considering and evaluating the prospect’s query to offer the best solution.

However, the follow up response or explanation must be in the form of advice rather than a mere reply to prove that you are not merely trying only to sell. A very important psychological factor every sales professional must remember is that ‘people like to buy but not to be sold’. The age-old impression about salesmen that they try to sell by hook or by crook, still remains in society. Therefore, being an advisor is the best approach for a salesman during the objection stage in a sale.

Finally, the salesperson should not try to evade any part of the objection under any circumstance. That will have an adverse effect on the buying decision. If you are actually not aware of the answer, say that genuinely and ask for time to recheck rather than offering vague and uncertain answers. When handling objections it is best to share testimonials and credentials. This is also the best time to share past experiences with regard to topics on personal, product or establishment.

Ask for more objections and welcome them. That makes your dialogue more effective and gives more time with the prospect. Most salespeople stop selling after a few objections while a successful professional will go on till seven, eight or ten such situations if they feel that opportunity exists.

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