Many of us have been taught for years that the key to sales is overcoming clients’ objections and comforting them when they express concern over your product or service. Your organization might, in fact, spend a great deal of time teaching salespeople what to do when a customer raises an objection.
Unfortunately, at that point, you’ve more than likely already lost. You’re dealing with objections as they come and operating from a position of self-defense. What if, instead, you could practically ensure that by the time you’re negotiating a deal, your client doesn’t mention any new problems? This is where the Same Side Selling approach becomes extremely relevant.
The Problem With Handling Objections
The idea that a client’s foresight, worries, or fears must be “handled” is a self-centered point of view that exemplifies all that is wrong with how many business entities deal with objections. Instead of empathizing and acknowledging the validity of their concern so you can work together on a constructive solution, you sidestep the problem. This is a highly counter intuitive way to do business. When you should be building mutual trust, you’re playing the sly, overly enthusiastic salesman.
In fact, most traditional “objection-handling” involves the salesperson trying to manipulate the client through distraction and persuasion. For instance, if they feel that your product is flawed, you might dodge the issue by pointing out one of the product’s great attributes or explaining why the flaw doesn’t matter. Obviously, this doesn’t work. If the client thought it was a big enough issue to bring up, it clearly matters to them and they are unlikely to be convinced otherwise. Attempting to do so erodes trust and comes off as sleazy.
The better way to do this is to spend time before the principal negotiation working together to reach a mutual understanding of the truth about your product. You want to discuss how important of a problem the client is facing, and whether you’re the best company to give them the results they need. If you’ve thoroughly talked about these points, you’ll know how valuable your services are to them, and you’ll both have clarified in advance whether any objections they might have would actually outweigh the truthful benefit of what you’re selling.
Hone Your Communication
When it comes to approaching a problem with your client on a mutually supportive basis, your communication strategy is just as important as your actual message. Preventing major objections is all about creating trust so you can discuss potential roadblocks from the start. You want to sound like a genuine, unselfish friend, not a self-interested “salesperson.”
Your body language during these discussions is essential. Sales should not be a fight or an argument, so make sure that you’re coming across as collaborative instead of combative. If you’re speaking across a table, keeping your hands on or above the table with your palms up signifies transparency and can help your client feel less guarded. If you’re simply standing near each other, make sure to let your customer maintain plenty of personal space — a close and intrusive stance can make people feel pressured. And in any situation, nodding, listening actively, and subtly mirroring your client’s body language can make them feel heard and understood.
You also want to avoid combative verbal communication. Instead of asking what their concerns about your product are with the clear intention of defending the product at all costs, center your conversations around constructive questions that will help you create a plan that makes them feel secure in their choice to work with you. “What does success look like for you on this project?” and “What could potentially get in the way of achieving our ideal results?” are great things to ask.
The Prime Example
The most typical and prominent example of an objection is a client claiming that they’d love to work with you, but someone else is offering your service for cheaper. Frankly, the truth behind this obstacle is almost certainly one of three things. Either they don’t think their problem is that important, they like you but want you to drop your price anyway, or they’re using price as an excuse because they’re not confident in your ability to elicit ideal results.
If you have enough of a comprehensive conversation with your client in the first place, you should be able to avoid this objection. You’ll ideally have already distinguished whether their problem is big enough to merit your effort, agreed upon the value of your services to them, and become mutually confident in your ability to deliver fantastic results. But if price does come up, simply ask, “How much less would you have to pay for it to be a good deal if you didn’t get the results you needed?” If they understand you can guarantee what they want, the price becomes less of a factor.
It’s Your Turn
Nobody likes to hear objections when they’re making a sale, but clients like hearing a dishonest, manipulative, and selfish sales pitch even less. It behooves you to work on your client’s concerns as a team instead of as two sides in a confrontation.
What about you — have you ever been in the shoes of the client and been turned off by how a firm handled your objections? What has worked for you when trying to work through a mutually beneficial solution with your client?
By Ian Altman