Over time, B2B selling has changed and become increasingly more complex. A large part of the changes in how we sell in the 21st-century result from the difficulty companies have making decisions around the things they buy.
As sales reps work to solve the challenge of winning a client's business and improving their results, they change their sales strategies to provide decision-makers with a better sales conversation.
There is, however, a sales skill where salespeople haven't been provided with a modern sales enablement. That sales skill is overcoming objections or handling concerns. The uncertainty of our environment over the last two decades has made it more difficult for B2B customers to buy the products and services they need.
When B2B salespeople encounter an objection, they have been taught to overcome it. However, the most common objections are not actually objections. Instead, they are real concerns, the kind that prevent B2B buyers from making a decision and moving forward.
The First Sales Objection Isn't an Objection
The first sales objection a salesperson encounters is an objection to the request for a meeting. The salesperson hears many sales objections, starting with, "We are happy with our existing supplier." But there are several other versions of this objection, like "Can you send me some information and try me later?" These words make it easier for the salesperson to go away. My favorite is "We have no budget." The reason salespeople all hear the same objections is because they still work.
When you hear these statements, you might have been taught to overcome the objection. For example, when a person asks you to send them information, you may have been taught to challenge them to describe what exactly they need. The client has no real interest in reading about your company or your offerings, as good as they might be. They want you to give up.
To overcome objections, you need a better strategy, one that looks at the objection by recognizing the real concern that causes decision-makers to refuse to commit to something. A prospecting objection has only one underlying concern: that it will be a waste of the client’s time.
Instead of overcoming sales objections, you need to resolve the client's real concerns, helping them take the next step in their buyer's journey. The concerns often become more difficult the closer you get to a decision.
The Lack of Consensus Around Consensus
In large, complex sales, you are almost certain to need consensus to move forward. Those who encounter this challenge will know that some stakeholders want to exclude others, including some who believe they should be included in the sales conversation. Without the strategies to get everyone on the same page, you will have a tough time closing a deal.
The objection is something like, "We don't need to include anyone else in this conversation. We'll be making the decision." The conflict-averse salesperson will move forward with no more conversation about consensus. Later, when the salesperson presents to this group, they will be greeted by several new faces who were not previously part of the conversation.—all of whom have no idea what has been discussed and decided.
It's easy to understand the decision-maker's real concern. They worry they won't get what they want if they allow other stakeholders to participate in the decision-making. To overcome this sales objection, you need to resolve this concern. It's something like, "I understand you are going to be leading this, and I will make sure we help you control this process. One thing we might consider is that if the people who are going to get to weigh in later have been left out, they might oppose the decision or complain it is not a good fit and that it won’t work for them. Can I share with you how to ensure you get what you want?”
The Most Difficult Objection to Overcome and Resolving the Concern
There is one common sales objection that is more difficult than most of the others. You know how you end your presentation by asking the client for their business? The statement you hear is often, “I’m going to share this with my team in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll get back to you.” You might have several prospective clients who have gone dark, never to be heard from again. There is no part of any B2B sales process, and there is little advice on how to resolve this concern.
Your contacts’ concern here is that they don't yet have consensus and that they want to talk through the decision. This creates a difficult sales scenario, one you must address. Your contact will be meeting to talk about the decision they are making, and some stakeholders will share their concerns. The problem is that you are not part of the meeting, but you are the person who can address those concerns.
You can find this strategy and strategies for every step of the sales conversation in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. There, you will find sample language for 10 conversations that resolve the client's concerns.
Here, you might offer the contact advice that will improve their chance of getting what they want and ensure you have the best chance of winning their business. You say something like, "I understand you need to speak with your team. One thing you might consider is that if they have any concerns we haven't addressed, it may cause them to oppose moving forward with your initiative. What seems to work best for our clients is to invite us to join the meeting to resolve their concerns, and make sure they are one hundred percent confident moving forward. How could we manage that?"
The Buyer's Concerns Are Your Problems
Every commitment you ask your contacts to make is an opportunity for an objection. By understanding the real concern hiding inside the objection, you can help your potential clients to resolve that concern, creating greater certainty and facilitating their buyer's journey. The inability to overcome objections results from not having sales strategies and training around the language that resolves buyer's concerns.
The objection isn't the problem. The buyer's problems cause them to offer objections. Some of the buyer's pain points are buying problems. For many years salespeople were trained to deal with the objection. Buyers still don't expect salespeople to help them resolve their concerns and help them with the problems of decision-making and making major purchases. To improve your sales results, start by helping your contacts solve the problems of buying.
By making the buyer's problems their problems, B2B sales teams provide a better sales experience with a sales approach that will cause your contacts to prefer to buy from you, as you created the greatest value for them in the sales conversation. Overcoming the objections by resolving the client's real concerns will improve your sales results.