Objection handling is one of the key skills every salesperson must possess, and as a result, much has been written about it. There are many methods, methodologies, frameworks, and scripts out there which all purport to be the best way to handle objections, and much money has been made selling them. Many of them (less so the scripts, more so the frameworks and methodologies) are quite useful, and will guide you in the right direction. Throughout all of these there is a common theme, which I'd like to cover here: the simple question "why?"
The goal of this article is not to show you how to overcome objections; I wrote about a potential method you can use here, or you can look up many more articles online. Rather, the goal is to show you the importance of this one question to the entire process. Many tend to overlook it, since gaining greater understanding is effortful. They go for pat answers, and hope that covers it. I want you to shine, so instead, I'd like you to seek deep knowledge of your prospect's objections before you begin to answer them.
The key to overcoming an objection always lies in the objection itself.
1. Why does the objection exist in the first place?
Before you can even begin to overcome an objection, you must have a clear understanding of why it exists in the first place. Before doing so, you will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the objection is. Make sure you understand it in all its facets and complexity. Objections are rarely simple; what appears straightforward on the surface probably has many additional facets you're not shown.
The goal of the why question in this instance is to discover those facets. Objections often come as the result of a power play, and as such, may not be what they seem on the surface. Find out why the objection is what it is, and attempt to find out why it would have an impact. Find out who's being affected by the change, and make sure you understand their motives (more "why" questions). Ultimately, these questions will lead you to a very good understanding of the objection, and why it arose. This understanding can then be used to devise an appropriate response strategy.
2. Why are they objecting now?
A key aspect to understanding an objection is the moment it arises. Objections rarely happen up front; rather, they come when the prospect has almost been convinced. They are interested in purchasing your product, but something or someone has thrown a spanner into the works. You can preempt this question to a certain degree by understanding (and keeping track of) their sales process.
Timing, as they say, is everything, and this is no different for objections. Find out why the objection has come about now. Has it been brewing for a while? Is it something that has just emerged, and which achieved consensus? Are you near the end of the sales cycle, and they're running through an exercise of checking boxes? If the person you're speaking with has a vested interest in seeing your product purchased by their company, they may be attempting to preempt any issues that may arise internally.
The timing of the objection will usually give you the key to its unravelling. If it's early in the sales process or during the first call, it usually tends to be a gut reaction by somebody within your prospect's company. If it's later in the process or near the end, it'll most probably be deeper and potentially more political in nature. In either case, this understanding will allow you to overcome it with greater ease and finesse.
3. Why ad infinitum.
Objections are rarely what they seem on the surface. They're usually larger webs of interwoven challenges, influences, and interferences. Instead of dealing only with the objection presented on the surface, you should dig as deep as you can (within the comfort zones of all involved, of course) to discover this web. To do so, you'll need to be asking many variations that would normally start with a "why?" Essentially, if you can ask a question that includes a "why," it probably behooves you to do so.
That's not to say you should channel your five year old self. Your goal isn't the alienation of your prospect, but your greater understanding of their objection. The key to overcoming the objection is true comprehension of it in all of its parts. This is what you seek, without becoming annoying, grating, or causing the prospect exasperation.
Lucky for you, the thing people like to speak about most is themselves. Begin with comprehension of the prospect's personal issues, and go from there.
You may be surprised that seeking greater understanding can sometimes eliminate the objection; you won't even have to come up with an appropriate response. By simply paying attention to them, you often reassure the prospect your company takes their objections seriously. In circumstances like that, the last thing you want to do is jump into a prepared response.
Scripts, in particular, do not give enough credence to prospect's real issues. They provide excellent answers to common objections without providing you with a real framework for their resolution. When handling objections it's very important to handle the correct ones. Dig deep, discover what lies behind it, and only then use those answers in your response strategy.
As ever, I wish you all the best and hope this has been useful to you.
Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!