News & Useful Sales Tips

05/12/2011:  

Objection Handling

During the sales process most people will raise objections. Objections are raised for many reasons. At some stage, customers may;-
 
One of the most common times objections are raised is just before the decision to purchase. In this case the customer is often looking for reassurance that the decision to buy is the right one.

There are different emotions that come into play when a customer raises an objection depending on what the objection is and how it is raised. We can feel:

 
And this can lead to us losing control.

Most salespeople when faced with an objection tend to react too quickly. Because we have heard the objection before, in our enthusiasm to help the customer, we interrupt and often deal with the objection, in effect, by making a statement that effectively says the customer is wrong.

The customer says we are too expensive and our reaction is to say in effect "No we're not and I can prove it"


This is a bad tactic since none of us like to be wrong and all of us hate to be proved wrong. This method, therefore, of responding to an objection with statements of fact is unwise since it puts the customer in the wrong frame of mind. We are saying in effect, you are wrong and I can prove it.
 
Rather than attacking our customer's beliefs or opinions we should try to get them on our side. The golden rule should be that, whatever the objection, you should never openly contradict a customer. It may be that the customer has misunderstood something you have said previously or maybe feels it is his or her duty to question some of your claims about your product or service in order to test their validity. Whatever the objection and whatever the circumstances the least powerful way to answer a sales objection is too prove the customer wrong.
There is a simple process that can be used to answer any sales objection.
 
  1. Listen to the objection.
  2. Clarify the objection.
  3. Deal with the objection.
  4. Advance the sale.
 
1.  Listen to the objection
Resist the temptation of interrupting the customer. You may have heard the objection a hundred times before but not from this particular customer. It may also be that the customer has more than one objection, or that this particular objection is slightly different than the ones you usually hear. 
By listening you show the customer you are interested in his or her problems and enhance your own professionalism. It also gives you time to think of a way of answering the objection.
 
2.  Clarify the objection 
It is very easy in the heat of the moment to mishear what your customer has said and begin to answer the wrong objection.
So, for example, when the customer says you are too expensive it can mean different things. The customer could mean:

 
  • I've had another quote
  • I'm checking you out
  • I'm negotiating with you
  • I have to go back and convince others 
  • It's more than I expected
  • It's more than I have in my budget
  • I don't want to buy from you
     
It could also be that when you test your understanding of the objection you find that your customer has another objection that is fairly trivial and can be handled with ease. To clarify the objection you could say something like:

" When you say we are a little expensive, can you be more specific? "

We then need to probe and find out the real reasons behind the objection, before moving to the next stage. It could be that by the end of this stage of the process you identify, for example, they have had a slightly cheaper quote from a competitor. Once you have enough information it is now time to deal with the objection.
 
3. Deal with the objection.
Once you fully understand the nature of the objection then it can be answered in different ways depending on whether it is

a misunderstanding by the customer
disbelief over claims you are making
a product disadvantage
 
Misunderstanding.  
Where the objection is based on a misunderstanding of something you have said then you must:

  • take responsibility for the misunderstanding
  • give information to clarify the true position
  • gain agreement to proceed
 
For example the customer says:

I don't wish to see anyone from your company as I am working full-time and can't afford to take time off work during the day.

The customer has clearly misunderstood the fact that someone will be available to call outside normal office hours.

I obviously haven't made myself clear Mr Smith. I will be pleased to call at any time in the evening to suit yourself. I will actually be in your area on Thursday. Would 7.30 be convenient or would you prefer a slightly earlier time.

Disbelief
This occurs where you have made a statement and the customer does not believe you, or at least doubts some of the claims you have made. 
For example:

I think you are too expensive

To answer this and other types of objection there is a method called Feel, Felt, Found, which is very effective for dealing with objections without attacking your customer. Let's use the previous example. After clarifying, we could say:

I understand how you feel Mrs Smith. Other people have felt exactly the same. People in the same business as yourself who are now our customers. When we first made contact there were often other companies who were able to provide quotes that were a little bit cheaper than ours.

However, what they found was that because we have invested heavily in new technology and are able to guarantee a 3 hour response to any problems that may occur during implementation, it was very much more cost effective in the longer term to pay a little bit more up front.  
 
Product Disadvantage
This occurs where there is a feature of your product or service that is genuinely less advantageous than a feature of a competitor's product or service. For example, the customer could say: We use a local company with an office in the high street. 

There is a disadvantage here because you don't have a similar office in this location and is a genuine disadvantage, which needs to be put in perspective.

We try to overcome the disadvantage by stating the advantages of dealing with your company, in the hope that the advantages will outweigh any disadvantages. 

This is often called the `Balance Sheet Method'. To do this successfully you need to be aware of your main selling points and the services you can provide that are superior to those provided by others.

However, before we deal with the objection we need to clarify why having a local office is important to the customer and whether other parts of our service might outweigh the disadvantage that has been identified.

4. Advance the sale
The key to objection handling is to react less quickly when an objection is raised and find out more about the problem. Clarify exactly what the problem is then try to overcome the objection.

Finally, if you have dealt with the objection successfully and it is the right time, close the sale, or move on the next stage of the sales process.
 
08/11/2011:  

TIME MANAGEMENT for the SALES PROFESSIONAL

Here are some thoughts on time management. We tend to blame outside influences or other people for our time management problems. The reality is that the source of your greatest time management problems is you! This is some stuff I train salespeople on when we run a time management course. This course is great for salespeople who struggle to get the most out of each day.

Personal drivers
Most time management problems are caused by ourselves. We tend to blame others for our time management problems, and there are some external factors that get in the way of managing time, but the greatest source of the problems we face comes from the ways we tackle our job tasks.
Personal Drivers help to describe the way we tackle certain jobs and help to explain why we often cause our own time management problems. Drivers are programmed into us as children and are therefore difficult to change. Once we are aware of our drivers it is possible to minimise their negative effects and make the most of their positive effects.

The 5 drivers that have been identified are:

 
One, or two of the drivers tend to be more dominant, however at different times we behave in ways that show the influence of all 5 drivers. There is no right or wrong, good or bad in all this. Drivers help to explain behaviour. Drivers have positive and negative effects on our management of time. Let us look at them in more detail.

Please People
Everybody wants to be liked. 'Please people' people have to be liked. They have to be friendly with everyone to feel comfortable and cannot bear to be disliked or in situations where others are in conflict. They spend a lot of time managing their own and other peoples' relationships and see it as a priority that everyone gets on with everyone else.

This can be advantageous in salespeople. They are very good at forming relationships and developing friendships. They keep the team feeling positive and are good at dealing with people. However, in the extreme, they can be poor negotiators because they will give way, or be too generous in negotiations, rather then risk damaging the relationship with customers. As managers, they are pleasant to work for but sometimes find it hard to keep discipline and can have favourites.
 
Hurry Up
Most of us can, on occasion, accomplish important work projects at short notice. 'Hurry up' people engineer situations so that they are always working to a tight deadline. Give a  Hurry Up salesperson a month to complete a job and they will put off beginning it until there is just enough time to get the job done.
They do not do this consciously, but subconsciously delay work schedules as long as possible so they are having to complete under pressure. Hurry Up salespeople are often late for appointments due to 'unexpected circumstances', however they are very good at working to tight deadlines. Again there are positive and negative aspects to this type of behaviour.

Be Strong
Be Strong people find it hard to express emotions. They are the strong silent types who work within teams, but give very little away about themselves. By not showing outward emotions they can be good crisis managers but can sometimes be seen by others as being cold and aloof.
Be Strong people work well under pressure, but can cause themselves stress problems if they are unable to find a release for the pressure that sometimes builds up.

Try Hard
Try Hard people put a lot of effort into their work. They are most happy when busy and are capable of handling large quantities of work. They sometimes find it difficult to prioritise work and see the work as being an end in itself rather than being a means to an end.
Typically the Try Hard salesperson will put a lot of effort into everything he or she does, but may not be spending time doing the things that are most productive and generate the best results. They will defend themselves by saying things like: I am working 12 hours a day, travelling the length and breadth of my territory, seeing customers and producing needs analyses. What more can I do? The manager of a Try Hard salesperson needs to harness this energy and enthusiasm so that he or she is 'working smart' and not just 'working hard'.
The positive aspects of Try Hard are therefore found in the amount of work capable of being generated; the negative aspects are that the work is often of dubious value to the achievement of objectives and too much effort is put into trivial or non-important tasks.

Be Perfect
Be Perfect people set very high standards for themselves and others. Everything they do has to be perfect, however long it takes. Be Perfect people are often very well groomed and their workspaces are immaculately clean and tidy. They line up their pens with surgical precision. Everything has a place and is well ordered and tidy.

Be Perfect people are very good at work that needs to be detailed and accurate. However, they often spend large amounts of time making things perfect that really don't justify the Be Perfect approach.


Certain drivers go well together. For example: Try Hard and Hurry up, Be Strong and Be Perfect, Please People and Try Hard. Some however don't match quite so well. A Be Strong Manager will see a Please People subordinate as being weak and sycophantic. The subordinate will see the manager as being cold and aloof. This could lead to problems in managing inter group relationships as well as managing time.

The overall conclusion is that we need to analyse the way we tackle jobs and begin to try and amend some of the negative aspects of our behaviour.


PLEASE PEOPLE Stop trying to keep everybody happy. Learn to say no
HURRY UP Schedule deadlines to ensure you are not leaving things until the last minute
BE STRONG Loosen up. Talk to others if you have a problem. A problem shared...
TRY HARD Work smarter. Identify the important tasks and, occasionally, leave some tasks uncompleted
BE PERFECT Try not to waste time making unimportant tasks perfect. Prioritise your work and use your Be Perfect skills on the important stuff

 

 

Getting more from your time
One of the problems with managing time is knowing how to plan each day and, as the day progresses, deciding what to do next. What you have choose is what activity should take priority and get done now.

We all face choices and decisions that we have to make on managing our time, many times each day. Personally, I find that while it is easy to fill my time with activity and be busy, there are times when I look back and wonder if all that effort has actually achieved anything. Also, I am sure, like me, there are things you always wished you had done but never got round to them.

If you have a busy job or social life there are choices that you need to make when you are planning your time. It would be nice to be able to plan everything logically and work to a pre-prepared schedule, but life has a habit of getting in the way. Everyone has 24 hours in each day. During that time we have to work, sleep, spend time with loved ones and spend a bit of time with ourselves. Why is it that some people seem to be so well organised and achieve so much? 


 
Recently, I was working with Jan, who works in Customer Services for a Financial Services company in London. She has a very busy job answering customer queries and helping solve problems. At one point she said in a very frustrated voice “I wish the phone would stop ringing so I could get on with my work”. 
 
The problem was that her frustration was very obvious in her tone of voice and was affecting the way she was responding to her customers. Customers with problems don't want to talk to someone who is not concerned, or who seems to want to be somewhere else.
 
I had to point out to her, very diplomatically, that her job was answering the phone and that because of the nature of her job we had to look at different ways of her managing her time so that her customers continued to receive the service they deserved, but that she could also feel she was achieving her objectives.
 
She needed, first of all to decide exactly what the purpose of her job was. This is the first step in learning how to set priorities and deal with conflicting priorities.

 

 

Exercise
Write down in a single sentence what your job is and why it exists. For example, if you are in sales your job purpose could be something like “To achieve my sales targets as agreed with my sales manager, to retain existing clients and to grow my client base by 10% each year”.

Write down your job purpose. Keep it simple. Show it to your manager and get their agreement that it is correct.

The reason you need to be clear about your job purpose is to ensure that when you are setting priorities  and deciding what to do next, that you can answer the question “Is this next task I am about to start moving me nearer to achieving my job purpose, or not?” If it is, we define the task as being important. This is a specific definition for the purpose of managing your time. A job may need to be done and you may have to do it, but if it doesn't move you nearer to achieving your job purpose it is considered not-important.

Urgent versus important
Another aspect of looking at priorities is to decide whether a particular task has a deadline attached to it. If it has a timescale it is classified as being urgent. By combining important, not important, urgent and not urgent we can get 4 categories of task, which can be combined into what we call the priority grid. This is based on work done by Steven Covey in his book 7 habits of highly effective people, published by Free Press.


  Important Not important
Urgent Important and Urgent Urgent but not Important
Not Urgent Important but not Urgent Not Important and not Urgent

 

Exercise
If you had 4 tasks to choose between; one from each quadrant, in what order would you do them. Write down your order of preference.

Most people say what they would do first is to tackle the task that is important and urgent. An example could be to present your business plan to your board of directors at their meeting on Thursday at 3 o clock. These are things that must be done now or very soon and take precedence over everything else.

The preferred next choice of most people is the important, not urgent task. These are the jobs that we keep putting off that can make a real difference to our effectiveness at work. An example could be to appraise the performance of members of your team. 

Most people say they would then tackle the urgent but not important task. An example here could be to fill in your expense forms. These may have a deadline, but the task, in itself, doesn't move you nearer to achieving your job purpose. The built-in time limits to these tasks ensure that these things do get done. The key is to do them as quickly as possible with the minimum quality required.

The final category that people say they would tackle is the not important, not urgent task. An example could be to make a coffee for yourself at work. There are many things that are neither important nor urgent. We often do them because they give us the feeling of activity, or being busy doing something.

This is not what happens in real life!

In reality, what happens is that people prioritise based on urgency rather than importance. What they actually do is different to what they say they would do.

The order most people prioritise tasks in real life is:

1. Important and urgent 
2. Urgent but not Important
3. Not urgent and not Important 
4. Important but not urgent

The real lesson here is that in reality, what gets left till last or doesn't get done at all are the important, not-urgent tasks. Most of the really important things in our lives are not urgent; they can be done now or later. In many cases they can be postponed forever, and in too many cases they are. Examples of these are long range planning, improving systems, self-improvement, writing an article, improving relationships. This is the area that truly determines effectiveness.

Where you have competing priorities, say for example you identify 3 important not urgent tasks, these in turn most be prioritised so you can begin working on the most important task first.

When we observe people at work, we see that most people set priorities according to urgency and this usually leads to three categories.

1. Must be done today 
2. Should be done today 
3. To be done sometime 

Try setting priorities first in terms of importance by asking yourself:

1. Does this activity contribute directly to the purpose of my job?
2. Does it have a bearing on my short-term objectives? 
3. Will it help me achieve my personal goals? 

Next time you make a list of things to do, remember, if there are 10 items on your list completing the 2 most important tasks will probably have the same impact as completing the other 8.