Opinon: smart ways to tweak your sales strategy and close
The question of handling objections is one I am frequently asked, and many are surprised at the answer I give, which is actually a very simple one.
There are no objections.
Now before you throw this in the bin, why not? There is only actually one objection: ‘I don’t want to see you’. That’s it.
Everything else said is a statement.
The problem comes when statements are ‘interpreted’ as objections and therefore, when someone feels objected to, they go into defence mode. When a salesperson feels the client is ‘objecting’ they gear up emotionally for the fight to overcome this objection. The client senses something has changed and naturally goes into defence mode. This sale is running into problems at this point.
By treating statements for what they are – statements, everyone stays relaxed. An example is, ‘I can’t afford it’. This is handled simply by saying, ‘Of course you can’t, how much can you afford?’ and the conversation continues. Another example is, ‘It’s too much’, again the only response is to simply say, ‘How much too much?’. There are an enormous number of books starting these as objections, teaching completely the wrong thing.
Another part of being skilled in meetings is answering known likely questions or ‘objections’ before they come up. Having allowed new salespeople to come into my sales meetings, they usually ask afterwards, ‘Why didn’t they ask you the same questions they ask me?’. I then explain that from experience I know what questions are likely to come up and handle them before they are asked.
The professional handles things before they come up, the amateur tries to fix them afterwards.
All books on handling objections in my opinion should be thrown out of the window. They are a waste of time and focus. Anyone trying to become good at handling objections is like having someone take the ball out of the net after the goal is scored. It’s too late, it should have been prepared for and handled earlier.
Closing the sale
‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. First, it relies on how well the first/initial sales meeting went. If this was poorly done, then the chances of any processes working in the presentation meeting is slim.
I recommend working on a 2-appointment basis. The sale is made on the first meeting. At the end of the first, have a set of closing questions, which end with, ‘If what I come back with is what we discussed today, is there any reason you wouldn’t want to become my client?’ (My usual paragraph has a couple of sentences more than this, however this is the crucial part of the confirmation).
At the start of the presentation of the solutions meeting, ideally the second meeting, include ‘if what I have come up is what you are happy with, I have brought the paperwork and we can apply for it’.
The art of following up
The art of ‘following up’ has been the topic of many contentious discussions. Whereas some people think that people should follow up a lot, there is another school of thought that says, ‘deals are like buses, there will be another one along in a minute’.
My personal thoughts and tips here are along the lines of someone walking into a shoe shop and not buying. They wouldn’t have walked into the shop unless they were interested in either buying or considering buying. My experience tells me people rarely talk to a salesperson unless there is some interest, however big or small, in what the salesperson is offering.
The first area I would look at before embarking on a series of follow-ups with someone is how good was my initial two minutes of interaction with the prospect.
For example, people get ‘taught how to build rapport at the start of a meeting’ normally takes several minutes, and yet my rapport building is one sentence with four words. This has given me tremendous success compared to when I followed the ‘systems’ I was taught this early, which I consider a complete waste of time and could damage potential success with this contact.
My second tip and this favours my own industry is that I would rarely ever do a third meeting to complete the sale. I would say quite clearly to the client that if we are going to need a third meeting, then it is only to complete the paperwork not to discuss it further.
The reason that I feel I’m able to be most successful this way is that the quality of the initial meeting and the second presentation meeting is so high that there’s no need for a third meeting unless the case is particularly complex.
My third tip would be to value your time – coming from someone who has done the extended chasing process early on in my career. When you analyse the amount of time and effort for the outcomes, the majority of the time it’s simply not worth it. So-called mantras such as ‘the sale is made on the 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th contact’ is just a waste of time. Spend the time working on sales skills instead.
My fourth tip is to ensure that the bulk of the initial interaction is based purely on questioning, to uncover and discover why that person is in the meeting in the first place, what they feel their challenges and problems are, and what they would like to do about it. Around 95% of that conversation should be purely about the prospect. The minute the salesperson starts talking about themselves, their company and products, the focus is now not on the client or prospect.
Remember, tell nothing, ask everything
I would like to end by reminding you that it is possible to do almost every presentation with questions. The clients and prospects are fully engaged, their opinion sought, their answers sought, their solutions sought. If they identify the problem and they design the solution, why wouldn’t they be happy and go ahead? This, above all else, will make the fastest change in any salesperson’s career and success.
About the Author, Brian Peters
Brian Peters is The Worldwide No.1 sales expert in obtaining qualified referrals, and the CEO and Founder of the Ultimate Financial Consultant. Brian draws on 25 years of experience as the number one earning consultant across two continents earning high seven figures, commission only and initially retiring at age 38 after 92 months in the industry. A Fortune 500 keynote speaker and No.1 bestselling international author, Brian has worked with over 5000 salespeople in over 15 countries. He is also a world champion athlete, a former Mr Universe and a professional IFBB judge. For more information visit www.brianpeters.coach