• Stop handling objections, it’s old school!

    If you are getting objections in your sales conversations, you’re doing something wrong. A Sandler colleague of my mine in Ireland summed up this theory in a recent communication of his;

    There isn’t a single one of the common objections below that could not be prevented.

    However, for the ones that slip through the cracks….read on….

    Top three Objection Handling mistakes you must correct

    •    Assuming that objections are part of the sales process. I bet you have bought many items without stalls and objections. Therefore, they are at best, optional.
    •    Believing that you need to ‘handle’ them. They’re not your objections and when you discover the underlying reasons for them, you’ll agree that the best person to resolve them is the buyer.
    •    Not realizing that if you are getting ‘stalls and objections’, it’s your fault.

    The Dirty Dozen

    •    You’re too expensive/complex/big/small
    •    I have no budget/time
    •    Call me in 6 months
    •    Send me literature, an email
    •    Why should I, buy from you
    •    Can you provide references
    •    What can you do for me
    •    How are you better, faster, different
    •    Our budgets have been cut
    •    We’re happy with what we have
    •    Your competitors are cheaper
    •    How much discount are you going to give me?

    Underlying reasons? There are only four underlying motives behind all objections you have  every received or will ever hear.

    •    Lack of conviction
    •    Undiscovered concern
    •    Prospect is Not OK (feeling…confused, annoyed, embarrassed, not-so-clever)
    •    It’s a tactic to gain advantage/leverage (typically in negotiations)

    For example…the objection “You’re too expensive” has little to do with price. The subtext of this objection is “I haven’t found a good reason (conviction) why I should pay more……….. ………………………………………………………

    Whose fault is that? Consider the objection…     ”I have no budget“. Again, it usually has little to do with money and everything to do with a lack of conviction. The subtext is “I haven’t discovered a good reason to go find the money”.

    It’s the same with time. When a prospect tells you that they don’t have time (or are too busy) what they are telling you is that they don’t have a good reason for making the time. Think about it, if their boss said that they needed them for an hour…guess what….they’d find the time!

    Learn to identify the underlying motives and you’ll never fear another objection ever again. Although there are only four motives underlying the objections you get, there are only two reasons why you end up coming up against one of these four motives

    •    Something that you did or said that you shouldn’t have
    •    Something that you didn’t do or say that you should have

    Rule #1 of Objection Handling is – Prevention is better than cure. After every call, document any objections you received and ask yourself – what could I have done/said differently to prevent it.

    Rule #2 of Objection Handling is – If you can’t prevent it, you must be fluent at dealing with it

    Six tactics you need to master to deal with any objection

    •    Reversing
    •    Dummy curve
    •    Struggle
    •    Negative Reverse Selling
    •    Silence
    •    Story Telling

    Paul Lanigan of Sandler Ireland cites plenty of examples such as;

    there are many ways you could respond to the classic “you’re too expensive” objection using one or more of the tactics above… Prospect: “You’re too expensive” You     (using a Sandler ‘Reverse’): Mr Prospect, generally when someone tells me that I’m too expensive, what they are typically telling me is that what I offer is worth more. What would     you need to see or hear from me to feel it was worth paying more?

    Or………… You (using a Sandler ‘Dummy up‘): When you say “too expensive” Mr Prospect, what does that mean?

    Or…(my personal favourite, because if you’ve done well up ’til now, it stops them in their  tracks. Watch the prospect backtrack – every time. The biggest challenge you’ll have is not grinning while they back pedal. You (using a Sandler ‘Negative Reverse’): Does that mean you’ve decided not to explore this any further?

    Or…………. You (using a story): That’s the exact same thought I had last week when I was booking a car for a family holiday. I looked at the pricing of the top brands and compared with the other providers and I felt that they were just too expensive. So I reserved a car with one of the cheaper companies. When I landed, my jaw dropped. The line at my car hire desk wrapped around the entire arrivals hall.  It took me two hours to get the keys. To make matters worse, they didn’t have the car type that I had booked. Then I had to catch a bus to an off site car park. When I got there, the car was covered in dents and dings that weren’t recorded. I ended up standing for another hour in 30 degrees heat waiting to get served. The kids were screaming, everyone was bickering. It was awful. In my experience, cheaper always has a price. Can I ask you a question Mr Prospect?……why do you think our customers pay us more?

    Rule #3: Read rule 1 and 2 again and again.

    Take lessons from our friend over the Irish Sea and stop handling objections.

    Mark Wormald

    Mark Wormald

    Before launching Sandler Mark spent the previous 20 years notching up engineering, sales and sales management successes in blue-chip companies in the technology sector and in the IT industry. He dropped out of corporate to run his own media business, publishing obscure science and technology magazines. An engineer by profession, Mark spent his whole career sceptical of salesmen, sales methods and has the firm belief that 99% of sales training simply does not work. His team helps business professionals win business by breaking the rules.

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  • Nobody gives a rat’s ass about me! What’s wrong with everyone? Don’t they know how awesome I am?

    1372705366_586-no-one-cares-not-even-a-little-im-seriousIt wasn’t difficult for John to switch off from the white noise that had been surrounding him for the last quarter of an hour so. He was mentally rehearsing his elevator pitch for this new networking group he’d been invited to. The rest of the table had been delivering their speeches but after the third or fourth person had spoken he’d stopped paying attention. They were all getting a bit “samey”.

    The truth of the matter was he didn’t really give a damn about the fact that Bank Rupp & Baroque LLP had been in business for over thirty years he didn’t need an insolvency practitioner. It mattered not a jot to him that Sue Liddy-Gates & Associates had a really great reputation for outstanding customer service, he had a lawyer. He gave not a single damn that Rex Carrs driving school was offering ten lessons for the price of eight, he’d been driving for years and his son was months off his seventeenth birthday yet. He’d find a local guy nearer the time.

    None of that really meant anything to him and anyway he needed these last few minutes to go over his own words in his head one more time. This was going to be a great presentation, John was incredibly proud of the software start-up he had created. Together with his partner he had produced what he felt was a “killer app”. They’d made a couple of sales, none recently, but he was sure this was going to be his ticket to the multimillion stock market flotation he’d been dreaming about for years

    Showtime!

    90 seconds into his allotted three minutes John looked round the table and slowly the realisation dawned that no one was listening to him. A few smiles and polite nods sure but not one person round that table was truly paying attention to what he what saying. He was dumbfounded. Why the hell were they not getting this? He’d told them about how his new accounting system could make their business more efficient. He’d told them about how his early adopter customers loved their new system and how competitive it was compared to the other systems out there. He’d even mentioned that it could save thousands every year on their operating expenses. It was a confused and dejected John that left the networking meeting that afternoon with a clutch of business cards and a couple of promises to “get in touch if anything comes up” but nothing more tenuous. Still lunch had been good and it had saved him from half a day of cold calling which was getting him precisely nowhere either. John was baffled. He had a great company, a fantastic product, happy customers, and good pricing ….. but …… no one……cared…..about……any…… of ….. that. The stock market float had never looked further away.

    John is not his real name but the above is a story told to me several years ago by a former client of mine. If you’re anything like John, you hate being sold to but unwittingly pitch the “hard sell” to your own prospects. By “hard sell” I mean telling anyone who is forced to listen about yourself, your company, your products, your pricing etc.) The hard truth is that your prospects care exactly the same amount about any of that stuff as you do when you’re the prospect, that is to say they don’t care very much at all.

    For John, the “lightbulb moment” came when he realised his prospects were just like him. They had their own fears, dreams and objectives, their own problems, issues and opportunities and just like John they cared deeply about these things. Armed with this revelation, John reframed his elevator pitch, his cold calling script, and his entire marketing and sales strategy from being self centred to being prospect centered.

    Features Advantages & Benefits has been replaced by his prospects’ problems, dreams and desires and how he can help resolve one and realise the other. “Super-fast processing leading to 6-9% efficiency gains” has become “ Were engaging with business owners who are frustrated that less than optimum production efficiency is holding back their expansion plans” and “the software’s ability to optimise inventory levels” has become “Several clients took us on because their finance directors were worried that too much cash was tied up in the warehouse”

    By making all sales conversations about his prospects and not himself, John found he was engaging with many more people at networking meetings (and on cold calls too).

    Early in 2014, three years after his disastrous networking event, John got to ring the bell at the London Stock Exchange on the day his company made its Initial Public Offering.

    Steve Myers

    Steve Myers

    Steve heads up Sandler’s Manchester office. He is multi award winning coach, facilitator and mentor, currently working with owners and senior leaders of established and emerging companies in the manufacturing, technology and professional services sectors throughout the North West. A typical client will engage Steve because they face unresolved challenges in consistently and predictably matching their sales revenues to their growth expectations and because of Sander’s unmatched track record of success in implementing and permanently embedding transformative sales structures, processes and skill sets. Prior to Sandler, Steve enjoyed 25 years of successful sales and sales management on the international state. His experience spans small and medium sized enterprises as well as global corporate organisations. Steve is long standing member of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management as was elected a Companion of the Institute in 2007 having been appointed a Fellow in 1997. Tel: 0161 656 5779

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  • 6 steps to stop sales failure this summer

    It’s that time of the year. School holidays. Summer holidays. Everything slows down. Prospects are away. Decisions won’t be made. And your sales team are telling you they won’t make quota because it’s summer time.

    At Sandler, we disagree. If you accept it as an undeniable truth, it’s undeniably true that your summer slowdown will show up with serious consequences to the bottom line when sales initiated now should be closing. So don’t accept slowing down the prospecting or keeping in touch calls with customers. You will create a self-fulfilling prophecy if you accept that despite your efforts, your summer will be tough.

    You may need to take action – just don’t roll over and accept that you won’t find new business, close deals and meet new and promising business connections this August.

    Change that old sales mantra ABC from Always Be Closing to Always Be Calling this summer. You’ll get much better results.

    So what steps can you take to ABC Always Be Calling this summer?

    Sort out your head trash create a winning sales plan

    1. Manage your mind.
      Decide not to participate in the ‘Summer is Slow’ myth. Opt out of self-fulfilling prophecies. Your attitude matters. If you think it won’t work, you can be sure you are right. So show leadership and don’t make excuses yourself. And agree with your team that excuses aren’t acceptable and agree a plan of action to win more business this summer.
    2. Clean up your new business pipelines.
      Be brutal. Remember that Sandler Rule #31 – close the sale or close the file. Stop wasting time chasing business which won’t close. If you know there’s not a good fit, or your prospect won’t agree a mutually satisfactory up front contract for your next meeting, then don’t waste more time. Politely let the prospect know you are closing their file and clean up your pipeline. Make sure your active prospects are well qualified and active.
    3. Analyse your own new business pipeline and conversion rates.
      Do you know the stats for each salesperson on your team? Understand your metrics. How many sales calls do you make each week? How long does it take to sign a contract? What are the best conversion rates? Why?Use your high performers as a benchmark and develop a standard for everyone based on the number of calls your high performers are making. And if you want to take summer Friday afternoons off, simply increase the number of calls earlier in the week; don’t reduce the number of calls.
    4. Increase your prospecting.
      Remember Sandler Rule #7? You don’t have to like prospecting; you just have to do it.Make a plan for more activity that covers 5 key areas so you can make effective warm and cold calls: direct marketing (emails/twitter/snail mail), cold calling, networking contacts made, referrals and business introductions.

    In particular, make sure you are booked into those networking meetings that do take place in the summer. Are there some new ones to attend? In addition to networking, make sure you are giving and asking for referrals and that you arrange and receive good quality targeted business introductions because they’ll deliver higher closing rates than colder calls.

    1. Watch out for signs of procrastination and excuse-making.
      Stop any self sabotage and set the example by sustaining the same level of intensity and action that you had in the spring. Catch delaying tactics early on in yourself and your team and you break or prevent a cycle of summertime blues.
    2. Be accountable.
      Help your salespeople manage their time by committing to setting behavioural goals daily and weekly. Those behavioural goals must include prospecting activities. Make commitments yourself – and share them with your team, your accountability partner (you do have one, don’t you?) and your Sandler trainer. Having commitments written in your cookbook is the number one way to manage your time effectively and be successful.
    3. Celebrate.
      Have your team share success stories about the goals they developed, achieved and turned into best practice. Sales team meetings shouldn’t focus on big sticks and failures – use them to identify how to succeed and recognising the accomplishments. Deal with any performance issues one on one. With the team, celebrate getting the calls completed. Acknowledge the appointments made. Create and some new and unexpected ways to celebrate achievements and new habits. Make it fun.

    So this summer, sort out any old beliefs about summer slumps and keep up the momentum so that you can have a good holiday yourself and you and your team have a happy hot summer at work prospecting and converting leads into new and repeat business.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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