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Why can’t B2B sales people sell – Part 3 – Handling Objections?

Objections1Without repeating the entire preamble of the previous two factors, let’s discuss the third factor of why it seems so many B2B sales people can’t sell.

There are three areas that B2B sales people must be competent in, before they will be able to sell. B2B marketers should also be competent in these areas too.

The three areas are;
1. Selling skills.
2. Lack of Foundational Knowledge.
3. Client Objections.

I revealed the first two factors over the past two articles. Let’s look at the third area today – Client Objections. Or as I like to say, “Get to “NO” before you get to YES”

But first, let’s look at the types of objections B2B sales and marketers must deal with. In no particular order, here is a list of the usual objections you will get in a B2B selling situation.

• Status Quo – that’s not the way we do things around here
• No Budget
• Price
• Gatekeepers
• No Time To Meet
• Many Decision Makers
• No Differentiation
• People Move Companies
• Etc.

In every B2B sales situation, the status quo is usually your biggest competitor. Let me relate a story that happened to me about three years ago to show how this happens.

I was helping an upstart software firm that had a pretty good product that would help business analysts work better with technical people, by going through the questioning process in a more structured manner. This would cut development time down by 30 to 50%, and therefore have a big benefit to any organization.

I knew the CIO of a company, and was able to set up a meeting with him, the manager in charge of the business analysts, and two of his top analysts.

We asked some questions before we started about how they worked with the technical staff now, and got some feedback that it was a pretty tedious and drawn out process.

And of course, we asked the usual question, about how would like to see a process that would help them cut their time down by 30 to 50%, and also have more precise information that could be easily verified by the technical analysts?

Obviously the business analysts agreed!

So, we went through the demo, and the two business analysts were very keen on the new system, and wanted to test it further.

However, their manager, who looked about 1 or 2 years away from retirement, was having none of it. He wanted the status quo. I went through the usual questions, and even he saw the benefits.

A big HOWEVER though! Because he was older, and had been through many new installations before, he wasn’t about to start another one that would keep him at the office late for two to three months of the installation, and possibly have to work a few weekends also.

He was simply putting in time until his retirement came around. I talked to the CIO about this after, one on one, but he told me this type of situation was up to the managers to say yes or no.

So, he put the kybosh on moving forward. The good news is that we got to “NO” quickly. We didn’t waste any more time trying to sell the system, even though my client wanted to pursue it.

It was obvious this guy would have told my contact that he couldn’t see how it would work, and there was a good chance he would have sabotaged the installation.

That is why you get to NO before you get to Yes. Don’t waste your time on companies or proposals that are not going to go through.

On the flip side of this though are objections that are not really sabotage objections, but like most objections, are not sold yet, because they need more information.

So, how do know if this is the case? Well, you ask better, more informative questions. Here are is a question you can ask.

The idea here is to first ensure that you are, in fact, dealing with an actual objection rather than a smokescreen. Therefore, isolate the objection down to its core to see if the initial objection they shared with you is really the truth or if it’s something else.

The “something else” could be that they don’t believe you, don’t trust you yet, don’t believe you or your product can help them, they may not be the decision maker, they have been burned before, they are having a bad day and you are their new target, they are not the best prospect for you, and so on.

Rather than react to an objection with a statement that creates an adversarial position between you and the prospect (Example: defending your position, service, or product) respond to the objections you hear with a question. Here’s how.

Prospect: “We don’t have a budget for this.”

You: “Mr. Prospect, I certainly understand that. It seems as if everyone today is more sensitive about operating within their limited budget, only making investments into proven (products, services, strategies, processes) that they know are going to work.”

What follows are some responsive questions you can ask in this situation:

1. “May I ask, is it that you have no budget now, or no budget ever?”
2. “May I ask, is it that you don’t have a budget at all or is it more about the hesitation to try something new and different that has not yet been proven to work for you?”
3. “How much do you think my product would cost that would cause you to feel that there’s no budget available for this?”
4. “Has the budget been cut altogether or has it been dramatically reduced?”
5. “Is it a budgetary concern or are you more concerned about the value you will receive?”
6. “May I ask what factors you consider when choosing where to invest your (printing, travel, marketing, training) budget?” (“How do you make that decision?)”
7. “So, if you don’t have the money right now, who in your company does?”

After using these types of questions, you should be able to confirm whether the objection they shared is the core objection, or if the real objection is actually something else. These questions will enable you to expose what their primary concern actually is.

The next thing you want to do is explore other options with this prospect to see if he/she is willing to move forward at all.

Get Permission

Before offering a response, a solution or a new possibility that would defuse their objection, now is the time for you to get permission to discuss a solution to their concern.

This way, you will quickly learn whether or not this person is truly a qualified prospect who is looking for a better solution, someone who you are better off without or if the objection they stated is, in fact, the only true obstacle to the sale.

Here is an example question.

“Mr. Prospect, if budget was no longer an issue for you, would you be open to exploring this in more detail?” By using “if” questions, you reverse or take away the objection to determine if “not having a budget” is the only thing that’s truly getting in the way.

Now that you’ve hypothetically removed this objection, their response should be a “yes.” If not, then there’s still something else going on or another obstacle that they haven’t shared with you yet. So, keep digging!

The next time you run into an objection, defuse it by getting permission to continue with the conversation. The result will be more sales with less resistance.

Remember, like all selling strategies, there are no absolutes. When some prospects say “No” they actually mean it! However, you must try and understand each objection with further questioning to reach a conclusion of whether the objection is real or not.

The key point here is this; salespeople don’t overcome objections, prospects do. The only person who can truly overcome an objection is the prospect. Salespeople create the opportunity for this to occur through their effective use of questions.

Selling is therefore the art of asking questions, listening openly and intentionally, and gaining information; not giving information away too soon or too readily.

Try these techniques on your next call. But always realize, you are trying to get to NO before you get to YES, so that you don’t keep wasting your time with prospects that are not going to buy.

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Ian Dainty
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