The following article was contributed by: http://sealthedealsuccesskit.com/
It’s frustrating to call your prospects and hear all their smokescreens and reasons for why they can’t become a client now. This article lists strategies for handling objections.
©Suzi Pomerantz. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Seal the Deal: The Essential Mindsets for Growing Your Professional Services Business
The Beginning of the Chess Match
Now that you are masterful at how to get past the gatekeepers, be they human or technology- based, what happens when you actually reach your prospect on the phone and he or she is resistant, or says things that sound a lot like trying to get rid of you?
There are strategies you can use to handle whatever objections a prospect might raise. Part of all of them is about listening for what the prospect is really saying or asking, and part is keeping your focus and being unstoppable. Either way, you have to make the calls to even hear the objections, but as we saw before with phone fear it is easy to avoid making the calls. Your preparedness to handle objections and know ahead of time how you will respond to a predictable set of possible objections will allow you to make calls with confidence.
Myth: you will be less afraid [to pick up the phone, have the meeting] if you are more prepared. Reality: you will only become less afraid by doing it more often … you don’t get less afraid by being more prepared, you simply become more prepared by being more prepared.
However, you DO need to be prepared to handle objections in the business development context.
You will need to handle objections in two situations:
1. On calls to get appointments PURPOSE: to get a meeting scheduled (not to identify specific coaching or consulting needs)
2. In a sales meeting PURPOSE: to listen for what their problem is, and show how you can help them solve their problem through your services (and get a second meeting or a next step commitment).
There is a finite set of objections … what are they? What do you hear most often from the people you are calling or meeting with? I’ve started the list for you.
Add other frequently heard objections below:
• Not interested
• I’m not the person you need to speak to
• No budget for that
• We already use someone for that
• We handle that in-house … our HR department does that
• We had a bad experience with an outside consultant
• Just send me some information
• I’m too busy, I can’t talk now
• I’m not available (when you suggest a date & time)
• Call me again another time
• We don’t use coaching here (or consultants, or outside trainers, or whatever)
• You’re not local, we want someone who is local to our headquarters
• This is not something we can take on right now
• You are an unknown quantity to us, you’ve never worked with us before
Now, plan your responses. What will you say to each of the objections above? Many of the objections you’ll face can be addressed with some version of the following responses:
“I’m just calling to make an appointment, how’s Tuesday at 10?” and
“You know, a lot of my current clients said that until they saw [fill in the blank]” (see box: Typical Objections and Responses)
Remember your objective in each context. Either you are simply trying to set up a meeting, or, if you are already in a meeting, you are trying to listen for what the problem/challenge is that your services can solve. Keep your purpose in mind.
Know how to hear in their objections what they are really saying. Listen for what they are not telling you:
“I don’t have a budget for that this year” or “that seems really expensive” really means that they don’t yet see the value in what you can do for them or how you can help solve their problems.
“We don’t need that right now” really means that you have not yet uncovered what their problem or hot issue is … you may be talking about leadership coaching or succession planning and leadership may not be what they see their issues to be … perhaps they have a problem with attrition and they are not seeing how attrition is a leadership issue. Or perhaps they are focused on talent management issues and not seeing the application of coaching as an intervention into managing and developing the organization’s emerging leaders or current leadership bench strength.
“We already work with someone who does that” really means they don’t yet see how your services are distinct or unique from what they believe they already have … explore further. Offer examples of how your services complement other coaches/consultants, or share how you’ve worked in partnership or collaborated with other consultants within organizations like theirs.
“Can you just mail me a brochure?” really means “I have no idea what you can do to help and I need to get off the phone. “ This is your cue to set up a meeting and get off the phone. You might say, “I’d rather bring it to you in person and talk to you about the work I’ve done with N firm (as long as N firm is similar to them either in industry or size) and how I was able to help them produce X results or solve Y problems. How’s Monday at 11?”
In a meeting, people won’t often come right out and tell you that they don’t find value in what you are trying to sell them, they instead will couch it in terms of budgets or timing or another smokescreen. Talking about coaching or consulting is abstract and hard for them to understand, and even when they are savvy users of coaching or consulting services, they do not always see the link. You have to find a way to talk about results in terms of anecdotes of how you helpedsomeone (or some company) like them resolve a situation or a problem they are also facing. Couch your message in how you can help them solve their problem based on how you helped someone like them handle a similar issue.
So, what do you say when faced with these objections and you have already ascertained the meaning behind the objection? Here are a few sample responses for you to try. Play with these, try them out, and see what shifts or opens up for you. Ultimately, the goal is to get fluid enough with your ability to handle objections on the fly so that you won’t need to use something scripted like the examples below and you will allow your natural personal style to shine through.
Worksheet: Overcoming Objections
Objections are part of the journey. See them as evidence that you are making progress. They are a natural part of getting to “yes”. If you are prepared in advance to handle and overcome them, you will sail smoothly through the call. There is a predictable and finite set of possible objections. Explore them and prepare your responses in advance. Identify and expect the various “no’s” you could possibly run into. They are likely to be some variation on the themes below; but please use this worksheet to capture the objections most relevant to your particular business. Then, plan your responses to each one.
[THE CHARTS and WORKSHEET can be downloaded by clicking or right-clicking the red button at the bottom]
Always follow your response to any objection with a proposed date and time to meet. It will encourage the prospect to consult his or her calendar. If the date and time you proposed is not an option, counteroffer another: “Is Monday at 3 better for you?” “Does Thursday at 9 work for you?”
And don’t forget to thank the prospect for his or her time.
At some point, you will encounter somebody who just keeps throwing you objections. After responding to 2-3 of these objections, you might discern that the prospect is really not a good prospect for you, at which point you can choose to hang up and try another person on your target list. It is okay to be willing to walk away from these calls … remember, it is all a numbers game. Don’t spend too much time being attached to any one prospect. Keep on calling for other appointments. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to meet with you. It could be an issue of timing. Keep them on your target list and try again in a few months if you still think they are a good prospect.