MH on Objections

Good post from Miller Heiman on Objections and Basic Issues:

What Isn’t Your Customer Telling You?

An objection is really an opportunity. It gives you a chance to target the information you are missing.

When your prospect raises an objection, listen for what she’s not telling you because that objection is merely a symptom of an underlying Basic Issue. That Basic Issue is something deeply personal that leads the prospect to believe she’ll be taking a risk and will be on the losing side if she agrees to your proposal.

An objection such as: “We do not have time for this,” may actually be telling you that the customer feels overwhelmed given the current projects this quarter. Taking on more would make her appear incompetent, or that she will have to work longer hours thereby sacrificing time with family.  You also hear the common objection, “Your price is outrageous!” A possible translation would be that this person has sponsored a similar project in the past that did not deliver as expected and she’s not confident that approving yours would improve her credibility to the board.

The severity of the customer’s Basic Issue can go from bad to worse over time unless you consciously step in. Do so any time in the sales call where you sense your customer is in an “I’m losing” frame of mind. There are ways to discuss and work with those feelings but the one thing you should NOT do is to deny their validity. Saying something like, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” is a surefire way of killing your deal on the spot.

Instead, ask questions like: “You had shown a little uncertainty about how my proposal will affect your team’s current workload (or structure). Do you still feel that’s a potential problem?” Or simply call it out with a direct question, “If I could give you a proposal that would make you entirely comfortable, what would it look like?”

No matter how you phrase the questions, the objective is to uncover the area of distress so you can address it. And because you’re dealing with feelings and attitudes, it’s especially important that you pause and listen to the answers. You want to convey to your prospect that you are a partner who is invested in her success as a result of this deal.

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