Sales and Sales Management Blog

March 2, 2010

Guest Article: “All Price Objections Are Different,” by Tom Reilly

Filed under: Objections,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 3:01 pm
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ALL PRICE OBJECTIONS ARE DIFFERENT
by Tom Reilly

To paraphrase a famous quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All price objections are equal, but some price objections are more equal than others.” Price objections come in all shapes and sizes. No two price objections are the same.

“I can buy this cheaper from a competitor.”

“I don’t have the budget for your idea.”

“I must put this out on bid.”

On the surface, price sounds like the issue, but each of these is a different type of sales objection. Without thinking through the true nature of the objection, salespeople are left with canned responses that sound like they just returned from sales training—clever but uninspiring.

The best way to deal with any objection is to drill down on the motivation behind the objection. Ask the question, “Why?” There must be a hundred ways to ask this question. For example, you could ask,

“When you say we’re higher, could you be more specific.”

“How does your budget limit you here?”

“Please tell me about your buying process?”

Asking “why” simply means digging for the root cause of the objection. You must dig for the motive to mine the answer. The first objection, “I can buy it cheaper somewhere else,” is more likely a differentiation objection. The buyer is really saying, “Why should I pay a nickel more for your product when I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference.” Treating this objection as a differentiation objection versus a price objection means revisiting what makes your value outstanding among your peers. You get to tell your story again and hold the line on your price.

The second objection, “I don’t have the budget for your idea,” is not necessarily a price objection, it is a budget objection. The buyer does not have the money to buy your product. The problem is that the buyer’s budget is too low, not that your price is too high. Just because someone lacks the funding to buy your product does not mean your price is wrong. Maybe their budgeting process is messed up. Can you help the buyer find the money?

The third objection, “I must put this out on bid,” is not a price objection at this point. It is a procedural objection. The buyer is limited in how he or she can make buying decisions. It could be a company mandate that all purchases like your product must be bid. If it is a governmental agency, you can plan to hear this procedural objection. One way to deal with this is to ask the buyer what he hopes to accomplish with a bid that he cannot get from working with you one-on-one. Another idea is to become part of their bidding strategy. Get your product specified. Help write the specs.

The next time you hear what sounds like a price objection, drill down. Probe deeper to identify the root cause of the objection. Once you discover the why of the objection, the what is easier to deal with.

Tom Reilly is a professional speaker and author. His newest book, Crush Price Objections (McGraw-Hill, 2010) teaches salespeople how to persist when buyers resist. You may contact Tom through his website

September 29, 2009

Questions, Objections, or Dead Ends?

How do you handle cold calls when you get them at home or the office?  Although I haven’t bought anything from anyone who initiated their contact with me through a cold call in years and years, I accept almost every cold call that comes into my office.  No, I have no intention of purchasing whatever the product or service they are selling is, but I’m curious to find out how the seller on the phone is going to try to gain my attention and what they will do with it once they have it.

One of the things I’ve noticed is how many sellers seem to be unable to distinguish between a question, an objection, and a statement ending the conversation.

My observation from dealing with hundreds of sellers on the phone—and please don’t assume this is a cold caller issue alone as a great many sellers make these mistakes whether on the phone or in-person although they seem to be more prevalent in phone conversations—is they cannot distinguish between a straightforward question about their product or service, an objection to purchasing, and a direct statement ending the conversation.

This doesn’t mean that all sellers handle these situations in the same manner, but there does seem to be two primary schools of thought—two primary reactions—in how to deal with questions, objections, and conversation ending statements.

The “OK, I’m outta here” school:  The first method of handling these situations seems to be to simply fold up the selling tent and end the sales interview immediately upon getting what is perceived to be any resistance what-so-ever. 

Ask a couple of honest questions about the product or service and the seller seems to become discouraged and simply gives up.  State an objection to purchasing and they are ready to get off the phone.  Make a direct statement indicating you want to end the conversation and they can’t get off the phone fast enough.

They do not differentiate between probing questions to discover more information about their offering, an objection to making a purchase that could possibly be dealt with, and a desire to end the sales interview.  To them, they all indicate resistance and resistance means “no sale.”

The “I can’t hear you” school:  The opposite method of handling these situations is to also treat them all the same, but this time instead of rolling over and giving up, the seller presses on, ignoring the questions, ignoring the statements, forcing the prospect to either acquiesce to the sale or to finally hang up on the caller.

These are the sellers who have been trained that a ‘no’ never means no.  An objection is something to be ignored because it is nothing but a delaying tactic.  A statement seeking to end the conversation is nothing but an objection and objections are to be ignored because they are nothing but delaying tactics.  If you’re a really a good salesperson, you ‘lead’ the prospect to make the decision that is right for them, which is, of course, to make the purchase.

Why are these sellers so oblivious to the obvious differences between a question an objection and a desire to end the conversation?  Why do some see everything as resistance and others never see resistance?

Certainly, a great deal of this has to do with the sales training—or lack thereof—these sellers have received. 

Those who give up easily have probably had little or no sales training.  Product training, maybe; but I doubt they’ve had much training in how to sell.

Those who push forward no matter what have been trained very well—trained to ignore, to push, to bully, to demand until the prospect either buys or finds a way to end the conversation which probably means resorting to cussing out the seller or hanging up on them.  These sellers have been taught well in the sense that their trainers have instilled the desired behavior in them, but they certainly haven’t been taught to be professional sellers.

I think both of these groups of sellers suffer from more than just their training or lack thereof.  I think there are a number of sellers that suffer from a serious lack of communication skills.  They don’t listen.  They can’t assimilate what the prospect is communicating.  They really don’t know how to respond to what they perceive to be unwelcome or unexpected responses. Their focus is only on getting the sale which means for some what they say is the only thing of importance, what the prospect says is nothing but a distraction; while for others once they’ve made their case, they have nowhere else to go.

Communication has always been at the heart of selling and is becoming ever more critical as our prospects have more and more alternatives to acquire the information and guidance they need to analyze their problems and issues and to develop solutions to those problems and issues.  Our prospects now have as much information at their fingertips as we sellers can ever provide them.  An increasing number are deciding they don’t need a salesperson at all—ever.

If we sellers want to be relevant to prospects, we better learn the communication skills that have always been one of the hallmarks of the top sellers.

December 18, 2008

Top 12 Sales Articles of the Year: “Sales Objections 2.0,” by Josiane Feigon

Filed under: sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 8:29 am
Tags: , , ,

The February monthly winner at Top 10 Sales Articles was Josiane Feigon’s “Sales Objections 2.0,” originally published at Salesopedia.  Josiane’s article is one of 12 monthly winners vying for Sales Article of the Year.

Top 10 Sales Articles selected the 10 best out of the thousands of articles published each week.  The weekly winners then went to head to head competition with each other, the best being named the Article of the Month.  Now, out of the over 500 articles nominated, the 12 monthly winners are now competing for Article of the Year honors.

Each day I’ll be posting one of the monthly winners.  Read them, then head over to Top 10 Sales Articles and vote for your favorite.  Better yet-go there now, read all 12 and cast your vote (for my article, of course).

Sales Objections 2.0
by Josiane Feigon

It all started a few years ago with Web 2.0, and now Sales 2.0 is the hot topic. What does this mean? Essentially, it means a complete transformation is taking place in our sales efforts, processes, tools, customers and markets, which all impact our sales cycle. As the customer’s buying cycle continues to evolve, their research of facts, pricing, and general understanding becomes more sophisticated. This means your selling process must start sooner and therefore, you can anticipate an increase in objections.

Introducing Sales Objections 2.0.

Expect more and more objections to arise in the following 5 categories:

  • Need: We all know multiple initiatives are sitting on everyone’s agenda the remainder of this year and the urgency and need for your solution may easily take a back seat.
  • Relationship: Although customers are more open to change than ever before, they also want to strengthen existing relationships with current vendors and partner with them in new ways. It may be tougher to displace the competition now.
  • Authority: With more decision-makers involved in the process, more No-Po’s pop up each day. These are the people who have no power and no authority to make a purchasing decision.
  • Product/Service: Although customers know more than ever before, they have less patience with anything too complicated and that lacks scalability and integration.
  • Price: Next year is going to be a lean year so prepare for this objection.

How do you rebound? Here are some rebuttal strategies based on the category objection you may receive:

Need Category

  • Qualify your prospects to uncover the impact of their organization to determine potential for a need
  • Create a strong phone introduction that creates urgency
  • Determine if the prospect really knows what you are calling about
  • Call wide at different levels

Relationship Category:

  • Establish trust and rapport
  • Learn how to sell against your competition
  • Determine if the prospect needs to be sold or educated first
  • Call wide at different levels

Ability Category:

  • Understand the various authority levels and learn the chain of command to include more decision-makers
  • Present your product and align it to their “hot buttons”
  • Early in the sale, set expectations that you plan to align at the highest level

Product/Service Category:

  • Provide opportunities to educate on your product/service
  • Provide a cost-effective solution for easy entry
  • Ask precision questions
  • Neutralize their fears by providing added value for what you can deliver

Price Category:

  • Qualify price versus ownership
  • Determine if this is really a strong prospect who has potential
  • Spend more time creating value and less time talking about budget
  • Call at the highest level and learn the purchasing criteria

March 19, 2008

Obama and Overcoming Objections

Yesterday Barack Obama was faced with the most difficult part of his sales presentation to date. His speech was far more than a speech. His goal wasn’t to rally the troops, although he went in that direction toward the end of the speech. It wasn’t to sooth a few disgruntled potential supports, although he surely recognized there were probably a few he had to bring back into the fold. It wasn’t even an attempt to quash the debate about his former minister.

Yesterday Obama had to begin the process of addressing objections. He had gone for months ignoring the somewhat minor objections from some accusing him of being a closet Muslim and from others who were insinuating he would be a ‘black’ president. Those he tossed off as objections from a small minority of rightwing extremists. But when his association with Jeremiah Wright brought his judgment, which he had spent a year touting, into question, all objections were brought to a head.

Yesterday Obama had to become one thing and one thing only—a salesperson. Yesterday he wasn’t a Senator, aloof and above it all. He wasn’t a presidential candidate sparring over policy or voting records. Yesterday he was just a salesman facing a purchasing committee, many of whose members had serious objections to his “product.” Certainly, the committee he faced was larger and more diverse than any purchasing or executive committee any of us have ever faced. Yet he faced the same task we face—identifying and trying to overcome their objections.

He could have chosen to anticipate and address those objections on his terms within his larger presentation. He didn’t. Instead, he made the mistake many of us in sales make—hoping the objections would never surface or if they did, he could ignore them and they’d just fade away. But they did surface and they didn’t just fade away. So, in crisis mode, he had to shift his presentation from seeking to meet wants and needs (hope and change) to handling serious and potentially sale killing objections.

Yesterday was just the beginning. He addressed the objections by trying to get his prospects to acknowledge a further, deeper need, to recognize a serious pain that needs to be resolved and tying that larger pain to the basis of their objections. In the months to come he will have to expand on his presentation and ultimately give some idea of a solution. As we salespeople know, you can’t simply seek to prick a pain or gain recognition of a need—you have to offer a solution if you want the prospect to buy.

So, politics aside, from a strictly sales presentation perspective—in your opinion, how did he do? I’d love to hear your opinions.

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