Do We Need to Keep Discussing Objection Handling?

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The short answer to this question is “Yes and no – it depends”

Depends on what? Well, it depends on whether we are discussing a reactive sales opportunity or a pro-active one.

Allow me to explain: A “reactive sales opportunity” is when we are approached by a prospect or existing client, to provide a quotation/proposal/price. They have pre-selected us as a potential supplier – because now, if it is true that these people are coming in much further up the “decision curve” they are already armed with most of the information they need to make a final decision.

This means they have, in all probability, researched our company; familiarized themselves with our product/solution offerings; checked out our track record; assessed us against their buying criteria, and reached the conclusion that we may – and it is only “may” at this point – be a possible contender to become their preferred supplier.

The fact that they are approaching us makes this what I term a “reactionary sale” They have made the first move, and as such have removed much of the need for us to sell ourselves to them – they have eliminated a considerable chunk of the foreplay stage, but we should not assume that they are prepared to go straight to the cigarette!

It would be easy – and understandable – to assume that they are merely now looking for the lowest price, but in most cases this is not true: They will most certainly be looking for the best value for money and price performance, which could include a fairly complex criteria: That criteria will include specific and relevant strengths such as demographics, and even psychographics; a successful track record with similar deals/installations; longevity in the market; financial stability; leadership in the sector, etc.

In this scenario, if we are able to satisfy all of their needs, it is highly unlikely we are going to encounter many objections – if any.

Let me illustrate my point …

Imagine that you are in the market for a new car: You decide that you would like to buy a second-hand Range Rover, and you go online to locate all the dealers close to your location. You call the first one on the list, Farrington Range Rovers R’ us and you get to speak to the owner, Jono Farrington.

The call would probably go like this …

You: “Good morning, I am thinking about buying a second-hand Range Rover, what do you have in stock?”

JF: “Good morning madam/sir (the Farrington family are renowned for their courtesy) may I ask you a few questions to determine your precise requirements?”

You: “Yes, of course (you aren’t going to say “No, you have to guess”)

JF: “To begin with, can I determine your budget – how much do you want to pay?” Absolutely critical question, for obvious reasons

You: “I really don’t want to spend more than $50.000 – and it would be good if I could spend less”

JF: “OK, that means we are looking at a two year model, with around 20.000 miles on the clock, is that acceptable?”

You: “Yes, that is what I was expecting – I have done some research”

JF: “Do you have a preference for color?”

You: “I really love the metallic silver”

JF: “OK, and transmission – manual or automatic?”

You: “Definitely auto, please”

JF: “What about upholstery – do you prefer leather?”

You: “Oh yes, definitely”

JF: “What about extras like tow-bars, CD player, satellite-navigation, etc.?”

You: “Well, music is a plus, but air-con is essential, please”

JF: “When are you looking to purchase/take delivery – what are your time scales?”

You: “If I find exactly what I am looking for, I have finance arranged, and can take delivery immediately”

JF: “Please leave it with me, and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours – is that OK?”

You: “That’s great, thank you”

Within 24 hours I call you back as promised: “Good morning, this is Jono Farrington from Farrington Range Rovers R’ us, we spoke yesterday about your requirements for a Range Rover”

You: “Oh yes, good morning”

JF: “Can I confirm that your requirements are still exactly the same?”

You: “Yes, they are the same as we discussed yesterday”

JF: “OK, good. I have sourced a 2011 model, so it is just fifteen months old, with 14.000 miles on the clock. It is metallic silver with automatic transmission, air-conditioning, and a top of the range CD unit – it also has the latest satellite navigation system, which is a bonus. Oh, and it is just $42.000 -when would you like to come and collect it?”

What just happened in that scenario? Well, quite simply I matched your requirements – in fact I exceeded them (to use another well-worn cliché) you were prepared to pay $50.000, so I saved you a considerable sum of money. You also would have accepted a vehicle with up to 20.000 miles, and of course, whilst not instantly obvious, that sat-nav will come in very useful.

This was a typical reactive sales opportunity, and after thorough qualification I not only matched your needs, but left you with no opportunity to raise an objection.

Ah, but what about “pro-active sales scenarios” - I’ll discuss that next week in a separate post. Too much on this topic in one day and someone is bound to object!

 

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Two great new interviews today over at TSW, with Dario Pirolo of Richardson and Larissa Gschwandtner of SellingPower and Sales 2.0 Conference fame – Larissa very rarely does interviews, so do listen in if you can.

Comments

  1. says

    Well, look at that. An honest to goodness real example. ;-) In context. And well done, I might add.

    I hope to see others following your example, Jono. Errr… Mr. Farrington. :-)

    Seriously, if you plan to explore reactive scenarios further at some point, it might be interesting to see what happens when you can’t exceed or meet all of the requirements, or if someone else meets or exceeds them, but not in the same way that you did. Buyers, especially in more complex situations, but sometimes in examples just like this, often are placed in the situation of having to weigh options, where there may be an unmet need or a variance of how well they are met, by different sellers. In your example, this might occur if the buyers rings Gschwandtner Auto after hanging up with you the first time, and receives a call back right after hanging up with you the second time. If the Gschwandtner Auto sales person has a car that also exceeds the buyer’s expectation, but differently, then the real fun begins. Then, it’s not even really resolving a concern, but understanding the buyer’s priorities more than the other rep, and positioning things accordingly, or possibly, it will come down to trust or relationship for a commodity sale. Humans are endlessly fascinating, that’s for certain.

    On a related topic… the older I get, the more the word “objection” bothers me. People might hesitate to make a decision or stall. They might be indifferent in the first place. Some may have concerns, legitimate or otherwise, which can be resolved (or handled). But the language of “objecting” and especially “overcoming” them has bothered me for awhile now. But so does the military language often related to selling, so maybe that’s just my quirk. Goodness knows, I have plenty of them.

    Thanks for a great example, Jonathan, and for using a story, in context, to convey your point.

    Mike

  2. says

    I just want to know if Jono would have really waited 24 hours to get back to the buyer? I’d say the probability of the buyer contacting other dealers, as Mike suggests, is quite high. Personally, I’d have been back to that buyer as quickly as possible, racing to serve the buyer before anyone else could. That has nothing to do with the point of the blog, but I felt compelled to bring it up.

  3. says

    Mike/Robert,

    As I think you really do appreciate, this wasn’t a post about objection handling, but rather about rigorous qualification to discover needs and to then satisfy them.

    Of course you would have got back in under 24 hours if you could, but you did need to source the vehicle.

    And whatever makes either of you think that anyone would buy a second hand car from Gschwandtner Auto (just kidding Big G)

    Anyway, thanks for commenting guys

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