businessman with umbrella and thumb down rain

Rejection In Your Face4

By Tibor Shanto – 

In the late 1990’s or early part of the last decade, I remember reading a piece about a study in one of the Scandinavian countries, who were early adopters of text messaging, SMS. It pointed to the fact that more and more young people were choosing to initially interact with potential dates using SMS, one of the key reasons that rejection was easier to deal with when it was not direct, in your face. The rate of rejection or acceptance did not change much, may have even gone up as it is easier to ignore a text message. But the lack intimacy, direct contact, not having to be in direct contact at the time of rejection, made it more bearable, despite the result.

There is no doubt that the reason sales people do not like to prospect, specifically direct prospecting, for instance telephone prospecting, is rejection. Who can blame them, no one wants to be rejected, and it is only compounded when that rejection directly impacts one’s ability to earn a living, eat and generally succeed in their chosen vocation. This is why so many sales people and companies spend time and money trying to avoid objections. The thinking being, “if we can avoid rejection, we will have greater success.” Understandable but hardly practical, if you are going to make unsolicited calls (cold or pre-warmed), you will face rejection. If you are going to play football, you will get tackled, you will get bruised, and if you have any intention of succeeding, you will get back up and ready yourself for the next play. Not so for many in sales.

This became even more clear during an unsocial discussion with a proponent of social selling. He was trying to convince me that there is less rejection with his approach than with telephone prospecting. While neither of us had the stats to prove or dispute, what was clear is that his focus was not the rejection itself, but more how he did, or did not, have to deal with it. Much like the adolescent lovers in Scandinavia, for this person, and I suspect for many who exclude telephones from their prospecting routine, it was more about how direct the rejection was.

“I don’t mind if they don’t respond, I just don’t want to have to deal with the reality of it.”

Which is another example of where the driving factor in executing a sales is not the desired outcome, but how it “feels”. It feels good when someone puts a like on your LinkedIn or Facebook post, allowing us to pretend that those who choose not to like it, who ignore and reject the message, just don’t exist. But from a desired outcome perspective, no different. So why not go direct?

One of my first sales jobs required that I make 160 dials per day, speak to 30 people, and get a yes from ten. My manager helped me by highlighting that if the 100 people who “rejected” me through the week were all in the subway car with me on my ride home Friday, they would have no idea it was me who they blew off on the phone. To this day, I look at the people in the Starbucks line, and wonder which one blew me off on the phone that morning.

While rejection may not be fun, it is part of sales, and will happen no matter which approach you take, it just a question of how direct, and how you deal with it, choosing not to deal with it does not change things. The real question is what is more important, achieving desired outcomes, or???

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Prospectors’ Guide To Objection Handling Part VI – The Non-Objection37

In the first five installments of this series we looked at the nature of objections by potential prospects and how to best use them to transition an interruption to a conversation. But there is another aspect to objections that is common and can also be dealt with, what I call the Non-Objection. In case you are wondering this is no way related to the famous and perhaps mythical experimental Non-Rabbit.

The Non-Objection are those that can be avoided before they are ever presented; these will differ across industries, and will therefore require you to draw on your own experience to manage. Success with these objections rely on a basic tenant of sales success, specifically the Three Rule.

The Three Rule suggests that the first time you encounter something, it is new and a surprise; the second time it is confirmation, and no longer a surprise.  The third time it is our jobs as sales professionals to be ready and deal with it. 

Based on The Three Rule, it is up to me to anticipate and move to remove a potential objection from the equation. For example at the start of 2009, a number of people I was trying to engage with put up the recession as their reason for not wanting to engage with me, or trainers in general. Rather than changing professions, I changed my approach. In my introduction I included a variation of the following:

“I work with companies who have decided to take a proactive approach to selling in the recession.”

This did not mean instant engagement, it certainly left the other common objections in play, but it took the “recession excuse” or Conditioned Response out of the mix, leveling the playing field.

Here is another example, I was working with a large international manufacturer, the team covering the SMB sector kept running into the objection, especially with SOHO’s, that “oh we’re too small”. As a result we had them change their script and include “I am the small business specialist”. What was the prospect to say, “oh no, we are minuscule”.

So if you are running into a specific objection other than the five we have prepped you for, step back and see how you can take it away before it is used against you. See how you can use it to your advantage by presenting it as a benefit, rather than have it used to weaken your position.

One other way to use The Non-Objection is in dealing with the Send objection. 90% of the time you call to follow up on a Send, you’ll hear that they haven’t had a chance to read it, or they have yet to get it.  So when you follow up, start by saying “Harry, it’s Tibor here, I am following up on our call last week and the information I sent as a result, YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T HAD A CHANCE TO READ, HAVE YOU?”. Just the nervous laughter at the other end is worth the call alone.  If they say no they hadn’t, just say “that’s exactly why I suggested we meet, how is Thursday at 10:00?” 

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Prospectors’ Guide To Objection Handling Part V – Send Me Your Experience42

Continuing our journey through the joys of Prospecting Rejection we arrive at two common objections, one my least favourite, the other which is probably not really so bad, but some sellers just take it the wrong way, and end up on the short end of the conversation.

My least favourite is the “send me some information” objection, not so much because it is hard to handle, but because I find them to be wimps, like Nancy said, just say no, don’t pretend to be interested just to get rid of someone, because if nothing else you are inviting another interruption when they call back to follow up on what ever they sent based on your request.

You could to the extreme one company I know, where they make it a policy not to send, based on observation, this has not cost them opportunity.  But let’s take them at their word and their statement at face value, specifically a level of interest.  Rather than risking that interest, work to specify it.  Highlight the fact that you have delivered many solutions to clients based on their situation, rather than send a lot of generic information, it has proven to be a better use of time to meet, specify, and leave behind the information that makes sense, and again end with a call to action.

With a bit of practice you can take this up a notch.  Confirm that they are asking in order to better evaluate the need to meet, when they do, direct them to you web site, should be as practical as any brochure. If they are unwilling, you have saved time and effort. If they do, you can highlight the many aspects of your offering, continue to qualify, and move towards your goal with your call(s) to action.

One other thing you have to determine before you start, and that is what you will send.  I stopped sending hard copies years ago, strictly e-mail, much more practical given the tools at hand these days. For me in the end I do send, as a VP once told me:

“Tibor it’s like this, you send, you have a shot, you don’t, we’ll you don’t”

Bad Experience

Not the send objection, but the objection that we all encounter. In many ways this is really not a rejection but an opportunity, but some sellers interpret it as one, and at times miss the opportunity.

In most instances people feel they had a bad a experience not because of what happened, but how it was resolved; more accurately not resolved in their view. We have all been to restaurants where the service or food was bad, but management took proactive steps to resolve things to the customer’s satisfaction.

Face the issue head on, ask them to tell you exactly what happened, take interest, clearly no one did at the time things happened.  Help them have a catharsis, until they rid themselves of the luggage they are carrying around, they will remained closed, so help them unload.  Once they do, you’ll have two opportunities, first they will see you as someone who was willing to listen to them; second, having relived them of their burden, you are in a position to offer a new alternative.

Word of caution, do not take ownership of whatever perceived issues they may have had.  It is one thing to say you are sorry they felt that way, another to say “I am sorry that happened”.  The latter can be fatal as you are inadvertently acknowledging that it did happen the way they see it, and that you (your company) was responsible.

Friday, the last in this series, the “None Objection”.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Prospectors’ Guide To Objection Handling – Part IV – “No Time” – Sales eXchange 16464

One of the easiest ways to dismiss Interruptions and to get the most out of Conditioned Responses, is by telling the caller that you are busy.

Prospect: I’m really busy, can you call me back?
Caller: Sure, when is a good time?
Prospect: Call me Tuesday morning!

Chick chack, back to work in less than five seconds.

Let’s look at the replay in slow motion.

First notice how little effort was exerted by the Prospect, making full use of his Conditioned Response.  Did you notice the head fake by the Prospect, deking out the Caller by offering false hope in feigning interest by asking the Caller to call back next Tuesday, as if there was a glimmer of hope; of course what he didn’t bother telling the Caller is that he is off on vacation starting Monday.

A key reason it was so easy for the Prospect to deke out the Caller is that like most untrained cold callers they are more focused on getting off the phone than to completing the call successfully, given the opening by the Prospector, the Caller went for it with the most predictable and welcomed line.

Different Prospect: I’m sorry, but I am really busy right now
Caller: I just need a few minutes of your time
Different Prospect: Which part of busy now do I need to break down for you? [click dial tone]

Prospects love the busy objection, the shortest line between ring and back to work. It sucks in the Caller by making them deal with the wrong element of the call, the focus should be on action, in the form of a meeting, not time.

That’s right, the best way to deal with the busy Conditioned Response is to take the off time, and put it on action/outcome.

Prospect: Jim, I am really busy right now
Jim: I understand, in fact I thought you would be, (Acknowledge)
Jim: in fact I only work by appointment myself, which is the only reason for my call (Credibility, Involvement through curiosity); and the opportunity to differentiation yourself by the approach you bring.
Jim: can we do that Friday at 10:00? (Call to Action)

No fuss, no muss, just an effective way to deal with the prospect’s Conditioned Response.

As with the other Conditioned Responses, be they Status Quo or Lack Of Interest, this paves the way for them responding to your Call to Action in the form of a time to meet, which in fact will be another objection, but this time no conditioned, but a direct response to you, and a start to a, rough, but nonetheless, a conversation.  An opportunity for you to engage based factors relevant to the buyer.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Prospectors’ Guide To Objection Handling – Part III – “We’re Good”46

In the first two installments we looked at the anatomy of the typical objection to a prospecting call, that is being an Interruption, and the Conditioned Response to Interruptions.  I also told you how 80% of the time you will get one of five common objections:

  • Status Quo
  • Lack Of Interest
  • No Time
  • Bad Experience
  • Wants to Know More First

These will come in different flavours, different rhythms, but they will come, and they will be one of these five.  So let’s see how we can take away these objections, bringing to play the new view of Conditioned Response, and get to having some good meetings in the calendar, and prospects in the pipeline.

While all five have common elements, the Status Quo and Lack Of Interest, are more commonly linked.  In both cases, it is as much about dynamics and managing those, than taking on the buyer, remember it is about handling the objection not the buyer, if you Take Away the objection, it makes it easier for them to get engaged.

Four step process:

A. Acknowledge – The goal of the exercise is initiate a conversation that for the field rep result in a face to face visit, and for an inside rep a sales call by phone.  Conversations take two.  When they give their Conditioned Response, address it.  One reason people hate the mid-dinner telemarketing call is the one sided nature of the call:

Telemarketer – “if you sign up today….”
Me – “My house is on fire”
Telemarketer – “It will also entitle you for coverage…”
Me – “My daughter’s hair is aflame”
Telemarketer – “And if you switch your balance it will be interest free for…”

Address their issue head on.

B. Create Credibility – Different where there is a Lack Of Interest and Status Quo, but the goal is to leverage the momentum of having acknowledged their response, and moving to build credibility.

C. Involve – The credibility above should also involve the prospect, again leading to conversation.

D. Call to Action – Commitment – Always, I repeat ALWAYS end your response with a call to action, the last thing you want them to think about is the response to the call to action; if you engage them well with the above elements, you want them to think about investing the time.

While approaching both the Status Quo and Lack Of Interest in a similar pattern, there is a key difference between the focus of Create Credibility.  In buyers who are Status Quo, content, the goal is to focus on what you can ADD to their current situation that would move them closer to their objectives.   Remember, even if they were not 100% content, or even 50%, they are not going to discuss that with an Interruption, that is why you are going for credibility.  More importantly, they have been conditioned by all the sales people that they have dealt with in the past, a vast majority of whom have come with “get rid of what you have now, and replace it with my stuff”.  Frightening and costly.   But if you can enhance what they have in place now, improve their investment in that, and more towards their goal, you have something that neutralizes their Conditioned Response and extends the conversation.

A lot of people I call tell me they have in-house training, or are working with someone already.   I also know that no program is complete, and usually could benefit from rounding out, so rather than knock up against what is already there, here is how I respond.

“I am glad you brought that up” (Acknowledge)
“XYZ Ltd., was in the same spot when we first called, but once they saw how our program was able to get their people in front of more prospects, they got to practice Wham Bam Consultative Selling with more buyers, generating mover revenue and ROI on Wham Bam” (Credibility/Involve)
“Why don’t we get together Wednesday at 11:00 and I’ll show you how we did that?” (Call 2 Action)

The goal is to get the appointment not with dislodge the incumbent, once you are in the tent, you are in a different position.

With Lack of Interest, the focus is on value  or benefit.  The thinking is this, the main reason they are not interest is they haven’t seen the value or benefit a meeting with you would bring.  But you have to be specific, not pie in the sky empty words they heard six times already this morning.

Identify where you have delivered tangible value to a similar company, a similar role, the more similar the better.  For example, in a specific industry, a number of similar clients have been able to increase their retention of reps, and by extension client satisfaction, up-sell and retention, all because of my program.  So when I call on others in similar scenarios, and they tell me they are not interested:

“I can see why you may feel that way, as the CFO at Red White and Blue initially had the same reaction” (Acknowledge)
“Until he saw how our program helped with increased revenue, rep turnover cost, and client satisfaction” (Credibility/Involve)
“I can show exactly how we did, how is Wednesday at 11:00?” (Call 2 Action)

Takes work, you have to know what their priorities are, how your strengths align with their requirements and objectives, and other factors highlighted above, but the payoff is immediate and lasting, and your engagement rate will increase measurably.

Execution – Everything Else is Just Talk!
Tibor Shanto

Hang Up Man!77

It’s sad that at times sales people seem to know little about their potential prospects’ real objectives and goals, but it is completely intolerable that many have no idea what their own objectives are when calling on a potential prospect, and how to best attain them.  This most often is the reason for their lack of success, what’s the old saying “if you don’t know where you are going, no road will get you there.”  (No corrections please).   That is the case with many sales people, lack of objective leads to lack of results.

At the core, there are a handful of things a sales person must master and decide before getting on the phone with a potential prospect; some of them simple but crucial.  What’s more, these are not disconnected from thing they would need to deal with throughout the sale, which leaves one to wonder how invested they are in their own success.  Of course, you can avoid the whole issue by lowering your standard of success, not the suggested route, but one that seems popular with some.

Let us look at two simple but ignored things when it comes to initial call.  First, what do you want out of the call?  There can only be two answers, you either want to secure an appointment, which is the case for most field reps.  Yes, you want to qualify and make sure the appointment is worthwhile, but from an objective point of view, it is what you want at the end of the call.  For inside sales, it is the commitment to engage, in essence a phone appointment.  Often inside sales people try to sell well before they get a commitment to engage, and without that commitment to engage, it is just so many words flying back and forth; again, a lack of a clear objective for the call.

The reason these are important, is that without that objective, you risk losing direction and control of the call.  Reps end up meandering; trying this trying that, hoping the prospect will jump on board.  By having that clear objective, you will be in a better position to respond, i.e. create dialogue, and move a qualified prospect to a setting conducive to success.

The second, which is directly tied to the first, is understanding the dynamics at play, and being prepared to deal with and manage those dynamics before the call even starts.  The key dynamic is the fact that unless scheduled, you are an interruption to the prospect.  Understanding that you are trying to turn an interruption into a conversation, by phone or in person, makes it much easier to deal with the obvious – objections.   An interruption is always objectionable until it is transitioned to a dialogue, and it is up to the sales person to manage the transition.

Remember that content and context are still paramount, but if you don’t deal with the underlying dynamics and basics, you will not succeed, and fall prey to the “no more cold calling” soothsayers.  So master the basics, or just hang up, before the prospect surely will.

Next Step

  • Set a clear objective
  • Learn to manage common objections
  • Practice till you think you have it down, and then practice some more

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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