“Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them”  – Albert Einstein

listen_clip_artHow often have you worked through a sales discussion, building in questions, getting clarification and buy-in from the prospective customer along the way, only to face hesitation when you ask for a commitment?

Even if the prospect understands the value of your product and recognizes the benefit, sometimes he or she won’t be willing to commit. Why does this happen? There are many possible reasons. The prospect might be the type of personality who needs to investigate every option before coming to a decision, or be someone who fears making a mistake. She  might simply be gun-shy after a recent poor decision.  It’s your job to find out long before you ask for a commitment.

It is far too common for someone in a sales situation to create problems and concerns by focusing on issues that don’t interest the prospect – ever seen someone prattle on about what he thinks you want to hear without using standard illustrations that don’t apply to your  specific needs and interests.

To prevent objections you must first question and then listen so you can later be heard.  Seek to know your potential customer, his specific concerns (those that keep him up at night), and what he actually wants. Remember they don’t always make this easy. You have to work for this level of detail. Use “open-ended” questions to gain as much information and insight as possible.  Look for personal needs or wants – those issues that have personal meaning, and therefore will have personal value (not just organizational value).  Also, look for clear measures like time savings or cost savings.  If you’re using your “open-ended” questions, properly, you should have a good understanding of what they need versus want. And you’ll recognize what is organizationally motivated and what is personally motivated.

Once you begin to understand, think before you speak.  First, pick out the key items that have value to the customer and confirm you picked the right ones.  Her feedback loop often surfaces latent needs.

Next, mentally map out how your offering addresses the issues she values the most. Structure your dialog to discuss how your capabilities address the most important issues.  Now, test your theories through possible outcomes.  “So, if growing the topline by 25% is your key goal, would it benefit you by having access to [fill-in-the-blank]?”  What happens if you’re not able to get access to good, quality [fill-in-the-blank]?”

This is how to prevent objections. Think about it.  If you don’t fully understand the prospect’s issues and the value of resolving them, then you haven’t asked enough questions and you become just another vendor.  The customer probably doesn’t believe you’re hearing him, and therefore concludes you can’t help him – like everyone else who doesn’t understand his needs.  That’s why cusotmers raise objections or create pushback. They make you work for it.

Following our approach not only removes barriers in your dialog, but also raises your credibility and creates competitive differentiation in the sales process. You’re different and they like it.  This approach also increases your ability to deliver an outcome the customer actually values, instead of an outcome you believe she values.