It's incredibly common to run into a number of road blocks that stop your prospecting activities dead in their tracks. Depending on your level of experience in selling your product or service, you may have answers to the most common objections. There are, however, some that stump even the most seasoned professionals.
When I help organizations, the most common reasons for them to stop communicating with a prospect is a result of three objections. The good news is that these barriers don't mean you've hit a dead end. In fact, they can be overcome with some subtle shifts in approach.
Objection 1: The client is working with another provider.
Why would a potential customer tell you this in the first place? Perhaps you said that you were a design firm and they are already working with a design firm, so you're dead in the water.
When the companies I work with get shut out, they immediately feel helpless and ask questions like, "how is that going?" or "what could they be doing better?"
Unfortunately these questions are useless because they've already deemed you too similar to their current provider and breaking out of that box is incredibly difficult. The best response to this objection is to avoid it all together.
Stop telling prospects about what your company does and who you are, and instead ask questions like, "I see your company's presence in social media has been sporadic over the last year. I have some ideas on how to increase leads and client acquisition using social media."
By focusing on the business objective and leading with a compelling statement, you'll never be told "we're already working with another provider" ever again.
Objection 2: "No" or "we're not interested."
Over the course of my career I've learned to love this objection because of how often it comes up. When first confronted with it, your instinct may be to say "okay, well thanks for your time," and walk away.
If I continued to do that early in my career, I'd have far fewer clients. In fact, a little more than 30 per cent of them all said no to me at first.
One of my favourite responses to this objection is: "I can appreciate that, Jane, and I hope that you can help me because management in my company will want to know from me why someone as qualified as you would say no to something so good as our offer and the benefits we are able to bring. So can you elaborate on why you have to say no at this time?"
What's nice about this response is that it almost always takes the discussion from a dead-end to a place where the prospect is now giving you input into why they said no and this information can now be used to open doors either now or in the future.
Objection 3: "I'm so busy right now and don't have time for this, call me back on X date."
While it may be easy to accept this response, and call the prospect back on the agreed upon date, seasoned professionals will dig into this objection to find out the prospects intentions behind giving you that response.
I would answer this with, "I would be happy to do that. When would you like me to call you"? At this point they will give you a date, and your response to that should be, "Is there a reason why that is a good time to call you"?
The reason behind asking that question is to gain a better understanding of the prospect's current situation. The more intelligence you have the more effectively you can communicate with your prospect. In some cases, when asked that question the prospect stumbles and you can tell they are merely trying to dodge you.
If you have the fortitude to take one extra step, this is what I often say if I sense the prospect is fishing for a reason to get me off the phone. "John, I would be happy to call you back and talk about companies similar to yours like X,Y, and Z and how we helped them to generate quality leads that converted into business. But, I don't want to be an annoyance to you. If you are not open to learning about new approaches to generate leads for your firm, please tell me and I won't bother you."
The key to getting great at sales is becoming comfortable with communication. Being great at sales isn't hard if you know how to listen, take notes, ask questions, and respond to objections. Be sure to recognize these objections and practice their responses and you will be far better off than the majority of professionals who either give up or limp their way through them.
Ryan Caligiuri is the president of Ryan Caligiuri International, a consultancy focused on driving revenue growth through creative growth strategies for professional services firms. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network, a program that provides sales/marketing resources & training to help grow professional services firms.