Sales Training Article: (Mis)Handling Objections
By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
In our sales training workshops we don’t spend a great deal of time on objection handling. A high percentage of objections result from “spray and pray” approaches when sellers bombard prospects with features without first asking questions to uncover which are likely to be relevant. Sellers dominate calls when doing product pitches. Buyers sometimes raise objections to slow down speeding trains.
Product objections are more likely to occur at lower levels because they’re closer to users and may be interested in getting granular about features. In stark contrast, Key Players want high-level views focusing on features that help them improve business outcomes. Identifying areas of potential value and payback will be the priority.
There will be times when prospects ask: Do you have the X feature? If a seller’s offering doesn’t, many get defensive. Some invoke the dreaded and manipulative “feel, felt, found” tactic.
My suggestion when that happens is to respond to the buyer: We don’t. I’m curious, why is that feature important and how would it be used? If the buyer doesn’t have a meaningful response, the importance of that feature is minimized.
I’ve just described a way to reactively handle an objection. When proactively establishing features that are differentiators, it will be more effective if you can:
- Arm buyers to articulate how differentiating features will be used. You can do so by providing an event (what could happen in a business day to create a need for the feature), a player (who or what will respond to the event) and an action (how the feature would be used to address the event).
- Whenever possible try to have buyers quantify the benefits your differentiator provides.
Let’s assume a differentiating feature of your software is dynamic load balancing. If/when a competitor asks your buyer how it would be used, you could prepare them to respond:
Event: When activity on any server exceeds pre-set thresholds
Player: the system
Action: would transfer some of the load to servers with available capacity so outages could be prevented without operator intervention.
This response makes it clear what the features allows the buyer to do and that outages can be avoided.
Another benefit of focusing on usage is that the event, player and action format make sense to Key Players than the term dynamic load balancing. Executives prefer to understand usage and business outcomes. Few will tolerate feature pitches.