“I’m happy with my current provider.”

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

—Pharrell Williams

 

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedOf all the sales skill workshops I conduct, by far my favorite is helping salespeople get appointments with prospects and customers over the phone. In addition to giving the learners a number of important guidelines in making effective outbound calls (e.g., never say, “This is Name from Company, how are you today?”), we spend a lot of time helping them through objection handling, the biggest obstacle to the initial goal of getting a conversation started.

One of the toughest objections we all hear is that the prospect is deliriously happy with his current provider. Of course we know this is seldom true. Who on earth is madly in love with his bank for example?  But to hear the prospect tell it, you’d think they were holding hands.

In objection handling, you have to be careful not to sound defensive. In other words, you would never say, “Oh but you don’t know how great our services are!” It’s important to listen and be consultative.  Help the prospect solve his “problem” in the role of a thinking partner.

Do you need your Business Banking sales team to get more appointments?  Do you need your retail bankers to get customers to come into the branch? Do you need your investment sales reps to have more face-to-face appointments? If you’re in health care, do you want your reps to get into that hospital or those doctors’ offices? Of course you do.

So helping them become more effective on the phone is an important priority, and a great deal of their improved effectiveness will come from dealing smoothly with the “I’m happy” objection.  Of course there are other difficult objections which I’ve discussed here before: “Send me something in the mail,” “too difficult to switch,” “too busy to talk to you now,” and a few others.

Off the top of my head I can think of three very strong responses to “I’m happy” that will keep your conversation on track and lead to an appointment. How good are you at doing the same?

Here’s a deal for you.  Send me just one of yours by email and I’ll send you back my three, no charge of course.  Then you’ll have some good techniques to practice and share with your sales team. If this is an important issue for you, write me offline at:  Gregory at actionsystemstraining dot com.

I’d love to help you…

Think Like Your Customer

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Sales Objections: Three words you must NEVER say!

The most important thing to remember in dealing with sales objections is that they almost always have a strong emotional component:  “Your rate is way too high…I had a bad experience in the past with your company…I don’t understand why I should have to sign a personal guarantee,” and so on.

So it’s important for you to take the emotion out of the conversation as deftly as possible. That’s why last week I wrote about pausing after the objection and the power this simple tactic offers you. Today I’ll share another tactic, eliminating specific words in your objection response that work against you.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedLet’s begin by looking at the standard models for dealing with objections.  All of them begin with some statement from you of empathy and understanding. So for a price objection it might sound like,  “I can appreciate why this would concern you.  No one wants to pay more for something than what they feel it’s worth….” And so on. The idea is that you want the prospect to feel that you are being a consultative partner, willing to discuss his concerns, not an argumentative or defensive person who disagrees and disrespects the prospect’s feelings.

Here’s an example of what happened to me in a workshop I did last year on objection handling.  I used the price objection and asked each of the learners to give me an example of a response that showed empathy or understanding.  One of them said, “I can appreciate why you might THINK our prices are too high…”

Do you see what happened?  In effect, he was saying, “Your idea that our price is too high was a mistake on your part and now I’m going to set you straight.” There was no empathy at all, just the opening words to a fight.

More often than not, the learners are able to get through the empathy and understanding part, but then they destroy it with their next comment, like this: “But that’s because you aren’t considering how competitive that price is when compared to what other companies charge.”

“However, you have to factor in all the costs that support that price…”

“Nevertheless, when all factors are considered, you have to agree the price is fair and comparable to other providers.”

These three words, But, However, and Nevertheless, are emotional signals to the customer that say, “I pretended to see your point of view, but I’m actually discounting it and arguing with you anyway.”

To handle objections consistently well, you have to continue to empathize and explain your reasoning without appearing to be arguing with the customer, who must believe you are a thoughtful consultant trying to help.  Get rid of “But”, “However” and “Nevertheless.” Contrast these two sentences:

“Your point is well taken, but it fails to consider two other factors that are important.”

“Your point is well taken.  Let’s explore it further and see if we can come to an understanding.”

Which salesperson would you rather deal with?

The consultative salesperson does one thing others don’t, and you can do it too.

Think Like Your Customer!

Prospect Objection: I’m happy with my current provider

Today we’re back on the phone calling prospects to get appointments and we hear this common objection:  “Sorry, but I’m very happy with the company that does this for me now.”  I’ve heard this one before and so have you, so let’s explore how to respond to it effectively.

In my newsletter on Tuesday I helped you deal with “Send me something in the mail,” and promised I would review “I’m happy with my current provider” in today’s blog post.  (If you didn’t receive or read the newsletter you’ll find it here.)

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedRemember that the two secrets to dealing with telephone objections are 1) avoid being defensive or arguing with the prospect, and 2) doing everything you can to engage the prospect in a conversation.  To get the prospect to talk with you, you will have to ask some helpful questions and a positive conversation may then lead to an appointment to “continue this interesting discussion.”

So when your prospect says he doesn’t want to meet with you because he’s all set with another provider, don’t panic or hang up.  Just say:

“It may surprise you to learn that I’m happy to hear that.  Quite often I speak with people who tell me they’re unhappy with their provider.  That always concerns me because it suggests they may be having difficulties themselves and that it’s not an issue with the provider.  I sense that yours is a healthy and well-managed company, the kind I want to talk with.

Now given that you’re happy with your current provider, may I ask what it is they do particularly well for you?  I may be able to learn from that. What are they doing that makes you happy with them?”

Notice that this is consistent with the “just a couple of quick questions” rule. You have disarmed the prospect, avoided arguing or being defensive, and instead asked him to elaborate on what he likes about his provider.  Now just listen and don’t be judgmental.

If the conversation proceeds, you may then add:   “Let me just make one small point, and that is that in my experience, well-managed companies like yours (or “astute business people like you”) try to avoid having just one provider of a critical service.  I’m not trying to break your existing relationship, but wouldn’t it make sense to allow me to visit and introduce myself?  That way if you ever have a need for our services, we’ll already be acquainted, and you’ll know who to call to get help.”

And now you have your nose under the tent.

Two final points:  First, let me remind you that these communication skill approaches to objection handling on the phone are not sure-fire.  People who are inclined to hang up or refuse the appointment are likely to do so no matter what you say, but some will be impressed with your expertise and confidence and you’ll get some appointments you would otherwise have missed. You’ll also improve your overall phone skills, an asset you will have for life no matter what you do.

Second, keep in mind that your best chance to get an appointment from telephone prospecting is when you have a warm referral from someone the prospect knows well.  Great salespeople always try to find this method first.

You have to be able to…

Think Like Your Customer

 

“I have neckties that are older than you!”

One distinct advantage that more experienced salespeople have is instant credibility when they show up on a call. Prospects can see by the salesperson’s apparent age that there are some years on those tires, and that they will be speaking with someone with a great deal of experience.

Certainly I have seen this first-hand either in selling my services or in leading sales training programs.  I’m in my 60’s and it’s obvious I’ve been around.  I get an artificial “head start” that maybe I don’t deserve. After all, there are certainly many people much younger than I am with far more knowledge and skill.  Life can be unfair.

I remember in my younger days as a banker my age or apparent lack of experience would come up as an objection:  “If I’m so important to your company, why did they send you? How long have you been doing this?”

It can be a daunting objection thrown at you right at the start of a call, and the younger, less-experienced salespeople often ask me about it in workshops, so let’s talk about how to deal with it.

First, remember that your response is less about what you say than how you say it. It’s very important that you respond to this objection with complete confidence.  You are a subject matter expert and proud of that fact.  Second, remember that your prospect may be simply trying to test you, just to see how you deal with a tough question.

Respond confidently.  “I see.  You feel that because I’m young (and/or) inexperienced I might not be helpful to you.  Please share with me why that is, or why you feel that way.”

Then, no matter what the prospect says, respond positively:

“I completely understand. Let me see if I can help you with this because I believe having me as your relationship manager will work in your favor, for these three reasons.”

Now you hold up three fingers to show you are going to tick off these reasons as you counter the objection.

“First, I want you to know that my company has entrusted me with a position of great responsibility, and while I’m confident they chose wisely, I take it quite seriously.  I haven’t had a lot of years to make a mark here, so I’m clearly determined to do a good job for you.

Second, I also work with a number of highly experienced relationship managers with large books of business, and their capacity is often stretched.  I on the other hand have a great deal more capacity, which translates to more time to work in your behalf.

And third, one of our advantages in the marketplace is that we bring a team approach to working with our clients.  I have access to a number of highly experienced product experts that I can bring to you for any need that arises. All I need to do is gain an understanding of how I can help and I’ll bring the full resources of my company to bear on your situation.  Does that help?

I hope you’ll give me a chance to show my capabilities.”

Believe me, you’ll have prospects eating out of your hand.  You just have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and…

Think Like Your Customer

When the phone prospect says, “Send me something and I’ll look it over.”

The responses to my newsletter earlier this week were numerous and positive, so I think I hit a home run with the tip on what to do when a prospect says, “I’m not interested.”  Thanks for the feedback.

We’ll skip Fable Friday today because I promised to give you the best response to the prospect who won’t let you visit him, but instead says, “Send me something and I’ll look it over.”  Those of you who sell banking, insurance or investment services get this one a lot.  The prospect will say, “Doesn’t your company have a brochure or any literature on this?  Why not send that to me.”

 So before we get to what you should say at this point, let’s do some simple arithmetic.  How many appointments do you expect to get for every 100 phone calls you make?  Is it 3, 5, or even 10?  You will know this from past experience. So let’s suppose it’s 10, just for sake of example.  What this means is that you will make 90 unproductive calls that make you no money whatsoever.  And if this is the case, then you should try as hard as you can to qualify the prospect for likely interest, and if they are truly not interested, hang up and make the next call. That’s what the pro prospector does.

 So when prospects say, “Send me something,” you have an inkling they’re really not interested, but you must try to sort it out, and the best thing you can do is say,

 “Of course. I’ll be happy to. Now, you should know that my company has a ton of useful information, and our website has thousands of pages, so can I ask you just a couple of quick questions to help me pare it all down so I only send what is of interest to you?”  And now you have a conversation going, and once a conversation begins, it’s way easier to get that appointment.

 After my newsletter went out, I got an email from a subscriber who said, “I like the idea of asking ‘just one quick question’ but what question should I ask?”

 The response I gave him was that it almost doesn’t matter what your question is.  Your goal is to get a conversation going, but here are some questions you might consider:

“Can you share with me the company you have your business with right now and what they’re doing well for you?”

Or

 “I often feel when someone tells me he isn’t interested that he believes all his needs for this service are being met now.  Can you share with me what your bank does really well for you?”

 Or

 “As you can see, telephone prospecting is part of my job.  If you could give me one piece of feedback that would have made my call to you more effective, what should I have done?”

Notice that these are all open-ended questions and are positive in nature, designed to get people to talk.  You don’t ever want to ask, “What does your provider not do well?” because it is so clearly self-serving and will get you nowhere at all.

What other objections do you hear from phone prospects that keep you from making appointments?  Write to me and I’ll suggest answers in a future post.

 Think Like Your Customer!