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Overcoming objections and positioning the value

01 Oct 2011

You’re in the Internet security industry working the phones to a select group of verticals. You engage with a prospect who is giving all indications that they are going to buy, and you as the sales person are starting to think you have won a nice piece of business. Then out of the blue the prospect starts presenting objections. What do you do? You start asking yourself why? Where did this sale go off track? This is a common situation and one that professional sales people are well equipped to handle as they have a model or a process which allows them to understand what is really behind the objection the prospective customer is making. Before the sales person can move forward again in the sales process they need to understand what is driving the objection as it is only with that understanding that they are able to reposition the value of their offering. That repositioning is always in the context of alleviating the objection. Scepticism, misconceptions and roadblocks From my experience objections can be classified into three broad types:

  1. Concerns where the prospect or customer is not quite sure and therefore is often sceptical (scepticism)
  2. Where the prospect or customer  has formed an incorrect view and this view needs to be corrected (misconception)
  3. The client wants something although you cannot provide it. This may be, for instance, that they want a particular feature such as online backup although your product does not have this feature (roadblock)

The trouble for salespeople is often to understand the objection they are working with, as it is not always clear. For example, at AVG if a customer says "I am uncertain about your business product as you don’t protect servers”, this would be classified as a misconception. Professional sales people don’t assume this and they would immediately start the process to understand the concern by acknowledging it and then follow with an open question to understand the concern.  Eg "That’s an interesting viewpoint, please tell me why you think this?” The answer comes back: "Well my IT person tells me that your product might not pick up the latest viruses.” So ask yourself is this a misconception or is it scepticism? What would be the value proposition if it was a misconception, what would it be if it’s scepticism? Without a doubt your response is different depending on what the salesperson is dealing with. Without this understanding the salesperson will simply continue to increase the doubt in the prospect’s mind thereby increasing the chances of losing the sale. Once the salesperson has established the type of concern they still need to learn more from the prospective customer in terms of why the concern is important to them. Often this will lead the prospective customer to rearticulating what they want/need and what is important to them. With this information the salesperson is now in a position to overcome the objection and reposition the value of their proposition. Providing evidence In repositioning the value, the salesperson must directly address the concern. This will involve providing evidence which confirms the salesperson’s position; if it is scepticism this may involve organising a product review, third party testimonials, research papers etc. This is then followed by a statement which supports the benefit a relevant feature delivers and a link to the driver of the needs that the client has expressed. Eg: "David, I have here the latest report on our product’s performance in detecting viruses conducted by XYZ that shows our detection rates are rated highly against our competitors. "Now that we have cleared that up I am recommending the Business Edition of our software as it does provide cover for all your servers and will allow your network to remain clean of viruses ensuring that your team remains productive on the tasks that grow your business. Does that make sense?”