The Key to Sales
The key to sales is simply being in front of prospects when they’re ready to buy, not when you need to make a sale.
Sales is one profession that is riddled with rejection. Over time that can be exhausting for your reps. Make sure your reps understand how to make their own timing, by getting in front of people when they have the ability to buy, the money to buy, and the urgency to buy.
The Difference Between Objections and Excuses
Objections are a part of sales, but sometimes a lack of time or money is used as an excuse to get your rep to leave.
Make sure your team knows how to tell the difference between an objection and an excuse before they’re given. Otherwise, they may waste a lot of time trying to help a prospect that doesn’t want to be helped.
In short, an objection can be overcome, while an excuse cannot.
Some prospects will be very direct and boldly declare when they are not interested. Some prospects, however, will instead make an excuse that they think the salesperson will believe. This often isn’t done out of malice, but rather to spare themselves from what they feel would be an awkward situation. Review our article on the behavior styles for more on that topic.
Here is a great question to help your reps know the difference. Have them ask:
If it wasn’t for that [no time, or no money], is there anything else that would stop you from wanting to move forward?
If there are other obstacles, there is clearly more discovery work to be done. If, however, the prospect assures your rep that is their only objection—now—the rep can work to overcome the objection.
Five Strategies To Overcome Objections
Objection handling sometimes begins before the objection comes up. Proper positioning and asking the right questions will help your reps avoid some objections in the first place.
1. Sell Higher Up
There is an invisible line on every organizational chart. The people above the line make the budgets, while the people below it are responsible for spending them. Level-one decision-makers (C-level executives) are interested in return. They can create new budget if the return is there and are authorized to make emergency purchases if the situation calls for it.
Have your reps memorize this question, and ask it to decision-makers at level two (managers) or level one (end users):
Besides you, of course, who else is involved in approving purchases like this?
The answer may uncover someone higher up who your rep can meet with. It will also help them qualify the prospect to see if they have the authority to buy.
2. Connect Time and Money
Let’s say on average your offering saves customers $12,000 annually. That means if a busy prospect successfully pushes off a meeting into next month, it will cost their company a thousand dollars.
Reframing time into potential savings is music to the ears of level-one decision-makers. It may also help other prospects find time to meet, with one caveat. A sales rep can say:
I understand you’re busy, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that we save our clients an average of $12,000 every year. Do you think you can carve out 30 minutes to meet if it means you get to tell the CFO you put $1,000 back into the department’s budget?
3. Help Prospects Plan for Their Purchase
If your reps are available when budgets are being created, they may be able to help prospects allocate enough money to pay for your solutions.
Being invited into those types of conversations and meetings requires a lot of trust, so your reps will need to do a great job positioning themselves as strategic experts.
There are answers to some basic questions your reps should work to uncover before visiting a prospect.
- Is your product or service usually a budgeted item?
- What is the prospect’s budget cycle or planning time?
- What is their policy for disposing of excess funds?
- Who controls which parts of the budgeting process?
- How much budget have they set aside for the purchase?
- How do they normally handle this type of purchase at this time of the year?
Your reps may need to do some research into the prospect’s industry to figure out this information, but chances are good that someone has written about it online already. The point is, your reps don’t have to go in blind knowing nothing about the prospect’s budgeting process.
4. Find a Work Around
Reps can help prospects think creatively about overcoming budget constraints by sharing stories of how other clients have solved similar challenges.
Perhaps there is leftover budget from another project they can use. Or, if your solution benefits another department, maybe that department can fund the purchase.
It may also help to ask how the prospect has funded your type of project before. Or if they’ve set resources aside that are not included in the budget but could still be used. If a prospect can’t answer these types of questions, see if they can make an introduction to someone who can. The prospect telling your rep “We don’t have the money” may be unaware of available resources in the form of another budget, department, or person, that can be used to fund the sale.
5. Use Future Money
This one can be a stretch, but there may be a way to borrow against next year’s budget now.
Sometimes, a prospect can create a larger budget next year to cover the expense this year.
It’s worth asking if it’s possible to get started now and arrange for payment to be made from next year’s budget, or at the very least, to ensure that the purchase is adequately funded for next year.
Don’t Let Salespeople Out-Pace Prospects
Salespeople get blindsided by objections because they aren’t asking the right questions early in the sales process.
Tension in sales conversations typically arises when a salesperson moves towards the close without realizing there are still issues left to discuss. Despite their good intentions, salespeople who out-pace a prospect seriously jeopardize the sale.
The IMPACT Selling System will ensure your rep’s sales process is aligned with the buyer’s journey. In this two-day, live-online or in-person sales training, your entire team can learn a sales methodology that’s been taught to over one million sales professionals. Your reps won’t just learn how to respond to objections, but they’ll learn how to ask the right questions, so the objections never come up.
Check out our Sales How To Hub for additional insight on this topic with exclusive access to our Sales Leader Coaching Videos and tools!