Welcome the resistance. In a selling situation, it’s often a sign of engagement and potential interest.
If a prospective buyer has taken the time to posit objections and challenge you, then you’ve piqued their interest. You’re engaged in the opportunity, and it’s up to you to demonstrate how your value proposition aligns with their organizational goals and needs.
In fact, objections are completely rational. Prospective buyers should be hesitant and reluctant. Just because you believe in what you’re selling doesn’t mean that your prospective buyer does. You have to transfer that belief! 82% of buyers don’t trust sales reps. Our job is to earn that trust. That takes a bit of expertise and solid evidence.
So expect resistance — and welcome it.
Handling and responding to client objections is a critical sales competency. So how can you develop and master the required skill? With an obsessive focus on preparation and your value proposition.
Write Your Script
While every customer has different needs, there are typically common threads that they express in their objections. You should be able to anticipate these and identify your strongest position to overcome that objection. So in order to get better at handling resistance, identify your five most common objections — and then script your answers on how you will respond to them.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “A script?”
There’s a misconception about scripts — that they simply exist to provide answers that will leave you performing robotically. But that’s actually pretty far from the truth. Instead, scripts do something else: They give you the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required. It’s simply part of the required preparation.
Drill yourself enough on your answers, and you will move past memorization. The ideas will become integrated into your selling DNA. The very fabric of how you solve problems and deliver value for a customer. You’ll be more prepared to meet customer expectations and move the relationship forward in a way that installs customer confidence in the decision.
Know Your Questions
For the near future, many of your sales calls will not be in person. Odds are, they will be conducted over the phone or video-conferencing apps such as Zoom.
But video-conferencing presents unique challenges for our senses of perception. According to communications expert Dr. Nick Morgan, video conferences affect our sense of proprioception: how our mind perceives the physical world around us. Our brain has difficulty processing cues during a video conference, as these essentially flatten a three-dimensional space into two dimensions.
Video conferences are here to stay, and it is still your role as a salesperson to elevate a customer’s confidence in making a decision. And in an increasingly digital world, you will have to be a much more active and perceptive listener than before.
Listening is what fuels effective communication — and listening is fueled by asking the right questions and paying attention to what the customer is telling you.
When I plan for calls, I plan my objectives out in advance. But fundamentally, I’m asking questions that help me gather the answers to these three questions:
- Why is the customer here?
- What do they really need and want?
- How can we insert a very clear point of view in solving it?
Once I’ve discerned my customer’s desired outcome, then it’s my turn to be confident and prepared enough to intersect my value proposition with what the customer is looking for. And by listening, I’m able to help my client see the path forward, showing them how my solution is their best option.
Make the Customer the Hero of Your Story
As salespeople, we rely on data to inform our pitches. There is nothing like objective numbers to help inform a buyer’s decision.
But how you present your data is perhaps even more important. Research from Chip and Dan Heath shows that 24 hours after a meeting ends, only 5% of participants can recall statistics. But 65% can recall stories.
So utilize the most effective tool in a salesperson’s arsenal: the power of the story. Part of good story selling is helping the customer to see their own future differently — to get excited about going on this adventure with you and to see the gain on the other side. Stories provide a chance for you to create that narrative, and they offer your prospective customer the opportunity to imagine how you can help them.
In other words, make the customer the hero of your story. Storytelling has been studied throughout history, most famously by Joseph Campbell, whose study of mythology led him to write about “the hero’s journey.” The hero is called to change, ventures to the unknown, handles challenges and roadblocks, and with the help of mentors and aides, gets to the other side of their journey, acquiring perspective and wisdom at the end.
While this may seem grandiose, you already have plenty of these stories: your own clients. Show your customer what you’ve done before, and what’s possible for them. This will get them excited, and it will also provide you with the credibility and validation every salesperson has to earn.
Change is hard. Regardless of their confident demeanor, on the inside customers are often experiencing fear, uncertainty and doubt around a buying decision. The ability to remove perceived risk plays a key role in determining who wins the sale. So embrace the resistance and move past it in collaboration with your customer. And get ready to grow!