3 Reasons Why Objections are Not a Bad Thing3

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

No sales keys

Most sales people think about objections as being a bad thing, a lot of sales people and worse leaders, get really uptight when it comes to objections. Often before we have even began to define parameters with stakeholders, they’ll say “Oh, and we need an Objection Handling session”, they want to take a tennis approach to managing objections, prospect “throws” out an objection, and they want to hit it back to them. But objections are really not a bad thing, not always convenient or easy to manage, but they are not a bad thing.

Here are three specific reasons why objections are not always a bad thing (no specific order):

  • Indicate engagement
  • Allow you to introduce more value/information/facts without pitching
  • Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers

The goal here is not to specifically give you techniques, but more to get you to relax a bit and see how objections are good for you, your sales, humanity, and global warming.

Keep in mind that for the most part objections come up in two ways, when you are trying to engage or prospect them, (we did a six part series on this, you can find Part I here). The second is when you are trying to gain agreement, either during the sales on specific points that will move things forward, including simple Next Steps, or at the end when you are trying to complete the sale. In either case, what follows will help you put things in a different perspective and let you use the objective to improve your selling, as a whole, and in specific deals.

Indicates Engagement – Even though some objections during the prospecting phase are knee jerk on the part of the buyer, the fact that they “are responding” allows you if prepared, to deal with that objection and segue to a conversation, key is being prepared. As you get into the sale, the objections will be more specific, a direct reflection of what the buyer is thinking, and how they are interpreting what you are saying, and if they are not clear, an opportunity to correct course. Even towards the end, with the lowest form of objection, the price objection, it is an indication that they are involved, capitalize on it.

Allow you to introduce more information/facts/value without pitching – Every time they object, they are in effect asking a question of for clarification, what a bonus. You can get a sense where their thinking is at, introduce additional elements. You can usually go deeper, and more importantly ask for more clarification on the part of the prospect. “Help me understand what you mean by…” Many objections are really questions, or the buyer evaluating things and they vocalize them, it is my chance to recalibrate, add useful value elements, align with the buyer, and move forward.

Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers – Sellers are always looking to qualify buyers, well their objections are a good qualifier, and as I have argued in the past, if your qualified prospect to closed ration is less than 50%, your time is probably better spent disqualifying those that you know will not close based on experience, which will leave you with more “qualified” buyers. Objections are a great way to disqualify, if you cannot manage and move beyond, you need to accept that it is time to move on, rather than play objection tennis, where you always lose. The big thing is that every time you disqualify a prospect, you have to replace them with a new one. Which is why some sales people would rather pretended they doing productive things by dealing with insurmountable objections, than doing some prospecting.

How you deal with objections is a different post, and there others out there with some great ways. But first you need to deal with how you view objections to begin with.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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3 Ways to Minimize or Marginalize Objections – Sales eXecution 2402

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

bad phone day

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have pointed out that salespeople and sales organizations spend too much time and energy trying to avoid objections, when they should be spending time on learning to deal with them, redirect and leverage them to move the sale forward. Here are three things you can do at the outset of the call that will make objections more manageable.

1.  Framing The Conversation – How you frame a question will have a direct impact on the type of response you get. At times it is simple semantics, other time it is where you can get the recipient of a call to focus. When you ask me about a specific, I will answer that specific. This is where many get in trouble, often led astray by pundits who’ve told them to focus on pain, needs or solutions. If you ask me about a need I do not have or perceive at the time, you are inviting me say no, even when I could use your product had you asked me differently.

Ask me about specific objectives someone in my role and type of company have, and it would lead to conversation. Your product could in fact move me towards achieving the objective, even when my perception of needs are different. There are things all business people want to achieve in areas where they are not feeling pain.

While I may still object, it will be in context of something I am interested in discussing, not in context of a pain or need I do not have, or at best not acknowledge.

2.  Take It Away In The Introduction – I was working with a group of salespeople with a well know international band, they were targeting small local companies. A big sticking point was when the prospects said “oh we’re too small”. Conversations always went sideways, having to defend misconception around cost, complexity, and more. So I had them include the following in their introduction “I am the small company specialist”. This did not eliminate the usual objections, but it marginalized a big hurdle, and allowed the conversation to move past it easily, and allow it to unfold in more familiar ground.

3.  Lead With Positive Measurable – In point number one above, I asked you to align your talk track with their objectives, not perceived pains. If for whatever reason you are not sure what those may be, there is a plan B. Highlight, clearly and strongly, a specific and measurable outcome, making that the focus of your talk track, not a product or “solution”. “I have helped (provide example) increase margins by 6%, – or – increase turnover by 8%”, etc. No guarantee that you will get engagement, but it will focus the conversation on positives, and limit the objections you will face.

Again, objections while prospecting are inevitable, no matter what some pundits will peddle, but you have the power to set things up in a way that allow you to manage and move past them to a real sales conversation.

What to be better at handling objection, download our Objection Handling Handbook.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Cold Calling is “IN” Again! – Sales eXchange 2346

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

frozen calls

Sadly I am at an age where I find myself saying “I remember the first time that was cool”, I have seen thin ties come and go enough times enough time to know not to throw out any ties, because it is only a question of time before someone says, “wow, that’s a cool tie, is it new?” The only thing I can’t remember if it was 1987, 1993 or 2007 when I actually first bought it.

Well it seems that cold calling is coming back into fashion. Not only do you find people dropping euphemisms when referring to the activity, companies popping up all over the place to perform a service many are needing but forgot how to execute. Many closet callers are coming out and proudly proclaiming not only that they regularly part take in cold calling, but that it producing results that exceed the expectations many, and helping many exceed quota.

Amazing what an Arctic Vortex will do.  Here we are less than two weeks into the New Year, and the signs are all over that cold calling is cool again. Just last week I had a notice for a webinar from one of the original Sales 2.0 gang, inviting me to a webinar on cold calling.  BTW, if you want to attend a webinar from someone who never wavered from cold calling, click here.

Other pundits who not so long ago wrapped themselves in the Sales 2.0 cloak, before dawning top layer of social selling, are now shedding their load, and freely speaking about the virtues of cold calling.

What is truly refreshing in some of their proclamations, is not so much their embracement of this staple and age old tool of sales success, but more importantly their abandonment of the “Us vs. Them” dribble that often dominates the debate.  The former stance that cold calling is dead, and it is all about the new thing, is now more reasoned and tempered, and sounds more like those of us who were out in the cold for a while.  Namely that it is about a blend of approaches and means of engaging with potential buyers, not one means vs. another.

Maybe it has more to do with the fact that the economy is showing some life, revenue expectations by Wall Street and companies themselves, are causing people to realise that they will need to be more than found if they are going to make quota, they’re actually going to have to go out and find some potential buyers who are not currently in the market or expressed that they may care to be.

In a recent LinkedIn group discussion asking if cold calling is dead or not, the comments were absent of the usual posturing about how cold calling was bad or dead.  The tone was more logical, again, putting cold calling alongside social selling and other techniques and tools that make up a successful tool kit.

LinkedIn itself, seems to be leading the charge back.  Despite a recent article “Cold Calling is Dead, Thanks To LinkedIn”, seems to have jumped on the band wagon.  As with most leaders and pundits, the measure of their commitment lies in what they do, not always in what they say.  Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, let me point to a recent advert for a sales position at LinkedIn, promoted on LinkedIn. When it comes to Responsibilities, just look at what is number one on the list:

LinkIn CC wr

About the only thing that could make cold calling more fashionable is to call it Zombie Calling!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Cold Calling: How to get from Interruption to Conversation #Webinar0

laser phone

Having a pipeline of good prospects is important at any time, but that much more at the start of the year. What with the year-end rush to close deals, the holiday break, sellers often find their opportunities deplete, leading to a lull.

The answer is a solid, proven, road tested methodology that will help you fill any gaps you may have in your pipeline, and keep you on track moving forward.

To help you, I am will presenting a webinar on January 30, at 3:00 pm Eastern, for Fearless Selling, titled “Cold Calling: How to get from Interruption to Conversation”. Hosted by Kelley Robertson, I will be presenting and sharing the key elements and practices of a proactive prospecting approach that can be put into practice by most B2B sales professional.

Contrary to what pundits tell you, cold calling is not dead, it is thriving and delivering sales opportunities for those willing to include it in their broader prospecting tool kit.

We will cover core elements of telephone prospecting success, including:

  • Developing client/prospect objectives (this is critical yet most sales people don’t do it)
  • How to allot and best manage your time
  • Mastering the language of sales
  • Understanding the role of conversion rates and how to improve them
  • Develop an effective approach for engaging with prospects and setting appointments
  • Create company and individual opening approach (Talk Track)
  • How to effectively manage common and recurring objections
  • Master voice mails that get return calls (this topic alone could be worth your investment!)

Learn more and register now by clicking here.

One of the biggest obstacles to sales success is procrastination, beat it now by signing up for the webinar!

Two Webinars This Week You Don’t Want To Miss0

Webinar

Coming up tomorrow and Thursday I will be presenting two webinars dealing with two critical aspects of prospecting.

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 23Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On BothI’ll be talking to the importance of sourcing the right leads, information about the individual and their companies, and securing the right and accurate contact information so you can engage with the right person for the right conversation.  Along with the good folks at eGrabber, I will present on: “Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both“, looking at the combination of cutting edge tools available from eGrabber to help you make prospecting more time efficient and productive.  Time is the only unrenewable resource you have, the better you use it the more success you will have.  Improve your rate of connecting with the right decision makers, and you will increase prospects, sales and profits.  We will be sharing best practices and everyday techniques for improved prospecting.

Click here for more detail and registration

 

Then on Thursday, October 24 at 2:00 pm Eastern time - Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objectionworking again with the DiscoverOrg team, I will be presenting the follow up to the highly successful webinar last month on the fundamentals of effective Cold Calling, this time we will go deeper on how to handle and manage the most common objections faced while prospecting.  The goal is to provide attendees with common sense and proven practices for handling objections and initiating more conversations with buyers, and help them become customers.  Most sellers tell me: “Get me infront of the right buyer, and I will close them”.  Problem is overcoming those early awkward objection to you call, and move to selling.

Click here for more detail and registration

See You On-Line!

Are you a Persuader or Mediator? – Sales eXchange 2220

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Mediate

I don’t see why anyone in sales should take offence to being called a persuader, it is after all our job, to persuade people that yes it is time to buy, and buy from us. I wear the label of persuader much more proudly than one of being a mediator, a label many in sales would rather wear.

Based on a discussion I had recently with two experienced sales people who were trying to persuade me (sell me), on the fact that what they do is much more “mediate” between the buyer and their company. Mediate, really? Not sure that is what sales people are supposed to do, and as I asked I got the usual, intellectually trap-laden, politically correct snippet about relationships, and how it is the role of the sales person to look after the needs of the “client in the mix”. Hmm!?!

I know it may just be semantics, but words count for a lot in sales, especially in setting mind set and attitudes, as those two things go straight to how you behave, and it is the resulting action that counts in sales. And because of that you will get very different results if you set out to persuade or if you set out to mediate.

When we look at the Merriam-Webster definition of mediate we find it defined as:

: to work with opposing sides in an argument or dispute in order to get an agreement (US)
: to get (something, such as a settlement or agreement) by working with opposing sides in a dispute
: to have an effect or influence in causing (something) to happen

And mediator as:

: one that mediates; especially : one that mediates between parties at variance

Right off the top there is a disconnect, on the one hand we hear about “relationships” and “trust”, yet we see our role as that of the UN in the negotiations between North and South Korea.

Further I am not sure why there is a negative perception of “persuading”, it does not have to imply that you are pulling something over the buyer, it just means:

: to cause (someone) to do something by asking, arguing, or giving reasons
: to cause (someone) to believe something

You can do that, and still maintain or strengthen a relationship, especially if the buyer gains by taking action you persuaded them to take. If the strength of you belief in your product is so strong and compelling, that the buyer is moved to act, how is that worse than mediating, where there is an assumption of adversaries, one being your employer.

The same people who seem to lean towards any word other than persuasion for what they do a s sales people, are the same who are happy to interchange the word negotiate with appease, and in the process of appeasing, mediate away the last bit of margin left in the deal, and subsequent purchases that buyer makes.

The sad reality is that if these same sales people only put as much effort into persuading their buyers, as they do me in labeling their role, they would mediate less, and sell more. Besides, if you are dealing with buyer who require mediation, and see your company as the “opposing” side, you should fire those prospects, and prospect for new ones that see you as much as a partner as you see them.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

3 Upcoming #Sales #Webinars you Need to Attend!0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Learn

Over the next couple of weeks I will be presenting three different webinars on 3 related topics that you should register for and attend.

October 23 - Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both

On Wednesday October 23rd, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, along with the good folks at eGrabber, I will present on: “Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both”, looking at the combination of cutting edge tools for sourcing the right contacts and related info, and best practices, to improve your rate of connecting with the right decision makers and start selling.
Click here for more detail and registration

 

October 24 – Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objection

On the following day Thursday October 24, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, working again with the DiscoverOrg team, I will be presenting the follow up to the highly successful webinar last month on the fundamentals of effective Cold Calling, this time “Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objection”, looking at how to effectively handle the most common objections faced by intrepid cold callers, and move to selling.
Click here for more detail and registration

 

October 29 – GAP Selling, Successful Selling in Changing Times

Finally on Tuesday October 29, you guessed it, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, I will be delivering the “GAP Selling, Successful Selling in Changing Times”. Working with LeadLifter, I’ll be presenting on a framework that allows you and your sales process to evolve with your buyers and markets, allowing you to execute your sale in a way that is not limited or impacted by market conditions.
Click here for more detail and registration

Set the time aside now, and learn how the three combine will help you sell better now, and into 2014!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

Exceeding Your Sales Expectations0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Solar Scape

Many adhere to the saying that goes “perception is reality”, no arguing that, but for sales professionals the mantra needs to be “Expectations are reality”. Regular sales people let their perceptions dictate their reality, and are often limited by their own perceptions, those of their buyers’, and of course the perceptions they glean from the pundits’. As a result they often settle for things they perceive, rather than achieving the things they can do given the right expectations.

I was working with a reps last week, helping him be more effective on the phone in the process of setting appointments. While he got the words and the flow of the approach and talk track down quickly, he was still not getting traction, especially when compared to others. What he was lacking was conviction and the dynamics that come with that.

Those dynamics, nuances in attitude and delivery, can make the difference between another prospecting call, and an appointment. The better the call, the more appointments; the more choice you have in your pipeline and your success. One specific is the attitude you have about the outcome, which directly influenced by what you expect to happen on and as a result of the call.

His expectations were all focused on the negative less than fun side of the call. He expected to get voice mail rather than a live person, he expected to be greeted by the admin or what sales people like to call gate keepers, (talk about setting the battle lines with labels). If those hurdles didn’t pop up, he expected the target to be irritated, not interested, and almost pissed for getting the call. If he got past that, he expected objections by the boat load, and finally he expected that there was little he could say to take away the objections and get the appointment.

I felt for him, he was piling up all these limiting obstacles, and he hadn’t even looked at the phone, no wonder it seemed like a five ton dumbbell. I suggested he had reset his expectations. “To what” he asked, “what are your expectations when you make calls?”

“I expect to get the appointment”

Those words are not magic, I still need to deliver an effective introduction, and while I get objections like the rest, I expect to deal with them and get past them. My expectations are focused on the outcome, the appointment, the opportunity in the pipeline, the sales, the commission and the meal at my favourite restaurant, I can taste that vindaloo now. If you expect to meet and be defeated by obstacles, then that is what you’ll get, and that will dictate your perception, and the reality of your effort.

Sure perception is reality, and if your perception is that you can’t do it, prospecting doesn’t work, then that will be your reality. If you expect to get the appointment, expect to get the next step, expect to win the deal, then that will inform your preparation, actions, reactions and outcomes. Those who set expectations, and settle for nothing less than what they expect can go further and overcome more hurdles more effectively than those guided by perceptions. What are your expectations today?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

3 Things Some Pundits Won’t Tell you about Cold Calling – Part 1 – Sales eXchange 2186

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Keyhole and Telephone - Key to Success - Locked Out - Communicat

There is no hotter topic in B2B sales than cold calling, does it work, and is it necessary in today’s social environment, call screening, voice mail, and “inbound” universe. Well I am here to tell you it does work in 2013, and will continue to work in 2014 and beyond. And I am not alone in that conviction, not only are other experts with me on this, but so are the facts; I know many don’t like confuse the issue with facts, but I just feel the need (see below).

Definition: To start we need to define “cold call”, there are almost as many meanings as there are pundits. When I say cold call, it simply means that you are not on the targets agenda for that day. You could have encyclopedic knowledge about their company, the prospect personally, industry, all the real success you have delivered to people like them in similar scenarios; if you are not a scheduled event – you are a cold call. I am not talking about just picking up the phone, start dialing at A, and keep going, saying “Wanna buy?” That’s not cold calling, that’s just dialing for dollars, not effective from a time and resource view point, especially given the time demands sales professionals face these days.

But if you do your homework, prepare for the call in every way, expose yourself on social media, whip up a the best posts, etc., it does not change the reality that your targets are trying to pack 16 hours into a 12 hour day, just like you. Unless you are scheduled, you are a cold blast of interruption. That’s what makes the call cold, no matter how strong the content, they are reacting to their schedule, which does not include you or me. It is a dynamic that needs to be dealt with, and mastered, otherwise you are a socially correct, smart beyond belief sales person with a phone in their hand, a dial tone in their ear, and no new opportunity in your pipeline, now that’s cold. So as we look at three things they don’t tell you about cold calling, keep this definition in mind.

  1. Opens Up Untapped Overlooked Markets:

Above I spoke about facts supporting cold calling as a key component of any prospecting success, one example is a recent WSJ article “Cold Calls Still Help the Bottom Line”.  Notice how social media such as LinkedIn and others play a role in their prospecting success, as does cold calling. Nothing can be truer than the comment about how by less people making prospecting calls, has created a reduction in competition for prospects by phone. This same concept pans out in a couple of other ways. First, those depending on inbound only, without outbound cold calls, are limited to that narrow segment of the market that initiated the “buying process” on their own, and as such see you in a different light. You read a lot about how many buyers are some 60% through their buying process before reaching out to a seller. I believe that, but what does that say about the role of the sales person involved:

    • They are usually reduced to providing data to validate buyer’s research
    • Rather than playing the role of thought leader and advisor, they are reduced to price discussions and negotiating with their own company
    • In effect, the true logical conclusion of an inbound sale is for someone to take the order, that’s not selling

I know one can argue that these sellers can challenge the buyer’s thinking and change direction, but if they had the wherewithal to do that, would they have waited or allowed the process to be 60% executed without being in the game? No, they would have prospected them, and by not doing so, allowed the process to get away from them.

But where does that leave the other segment of the market, those who have not initiated the buying process, those who have something like what you sell, but could benefit from what your offer specifically; what if you can help them achieve their objectives better than they are now, but are just not calling in? Seems to me that to get to them, you’re going to have to pick up the phone (along with other actions), and if you are not on their schedule, you have to deal with being an interruption, a cold call, and deal with their reaction to the interruption not the quality of content.

This means learning to deal with the response, the objection, the rejection, the horror; well not if you are prepared.

Now – Download the Objection Handling Handbook
Wednesday Part 2 – They used to cold call – what’s changed?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Is it Ever The Right Time? – Sales eXchange 2083

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Clocks head

If you prospect regularly, a common push back you get from potential buyers is “it’s not a good time”, or “the timing is wrong”, or any variations on that theme.  In some instances it makes sense, calling an accounting firm in the March April timeframe, or a school supply company in August; these are times those companies are busy executing, having made purchase decisions much earlier in the cycle.

With only 15% or so of your market being in play, that is actively out there “buying”, and 70% being in what is commonly called Status Quo, ostensibly not looking, it is a safe bet that 70% of the “time” the timing is not right.  I say ostensibly, because there is a lot of opportunity and buyers to be found in that large group called Status Quo, the fact that they are satisfied with their current state, does not mean they won’t buy, no matter what some pundits tell you.  Satisfied is a long way away from ecstatic; there is a lot of room for improvement and your offering between those two points, don’t settle for satisfied.  The problem is that too many sales people allow the statement about timing to throw them off or give up on an opportunity, not just for themselves, but for the buyer, and by extension the buyer’s company and objectives.

“75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.”  ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’ Bell & Patterson

What the Status Quo prospect is saying is that they don’t have time to waste on another value proposition, or you history of accomplishments.  They want to know how to move past satisfied, which you could do if you could surface their objectives, and what they feel is in the way.

For those 70% of the time where by definition your timing is “not good”, you need to counter it in a way that acknowledges your understanding of their statement, but allows you to put the onus on them not to prevent that from them taking action.  Left to their own devices, it will never be the right time until it is too late, they go to market, and you are part of a crowd willing to drop their pants and sell at a discount.  Not for you, the time is now.

The simplest and most effective way to do that is to move the discussion off time and on to their objectives.  Understanding why people buy, why they have bought from you and/or your company is key, and one of the great benefits of reviewing all deals, wins, losses, and draws.

You can start and create a gateway by asking “is it ever a good time?  With all the things we have on the go, it is difficult to have time for everything.” Pause, and using the above, and specifics tied to your market and offering, “if you had to create time, and complete the number one item on your list, what would that be?  At the same time, what’s something that you could drop from that list without much impact on your business?”

By listening with an open mind and a blank canvas, you can begin to understand and discuss what their priorities and objectives are, and how you can impact those.  As with most prospecting calls, the goal is to secure an appointment, not to sell, this will put you in a position to assess the opportunity and secure an appointment.  You’ll have a sense as to objectives and current barriers, and how you may add value.

As with most things in sales it is not 100% full proof and is usually done hand in hand with other steps that need to be executed, but it will allow you take a common objection and turn it into a sales call.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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