Yesterday my regular reader Mr. Koshy Modiyil had responded with this wonderful anecdote about a Sales interaction he had witnessed firsthand:
This reminds me of an incident that happened in the Reserve Bank of India way back in the 1940s. A Salesman approached the Chief Accountant (CA) with a Facit Adding-machine. He demonstrated how efficient, accurate and fast the machine can add up any set of numbers. The CA gave him some assorted list of numbers and said he would like to speed at which the task can be accomplished – he timed the work with a stop watch. The machine completed the task in a certain time. Then the CA called Mr. Panicker, a clerk in his team, and gave him the same numbers. Panicker could complete the task 1 minute less than the machine. The salesman was at his wits end; he admitted defeat and started to leave. The CA called him back and Said: “I have only one Panicker, so the need for more of your machines.
A brilliant story – it depicts the “Us vs Them” attitude playing out in the minds of some Salespersons – such a stand can lose them a lot of business.
An Objection is a huge opportunity to investigate further.
Don’t you think, this Salesperson could have said this?
- “That was fantastic, Mr. Panicker! I wish I could add that fast.”
He could have then turned to the Chief Accountant and asked:
- “Are all your team–members as good as Mr. Panicker?”
That simple technique would have created a positive impression on Mr. Panicker and the CA – the Salesperson appreciated and praised and then opened the door for further exploration.
The CA would obviously have come out with his requirement in due course if the Fact man had continued probing the right way – he could then have made the Sale on his own strength than having to be rescued by a kindly customer.
But doing this needs presence of mind and nimbleness to understand the possibilities.
Objections are Customer’s way of testing the Salesperson’s mettle, the quality of the product and service. He is making doubly sure that the company he is dealing with a reliable and the product he is buying will serve him well.
Instead of an adversarial stand Sales Professionals should work alongside the Customer and help them through the process.
Forge partnerships with your Customer …. You have to be on their side!
These are some of the alternate spellings for the word …. OPPORTUNITY!
How often have opportunities come your way and you have not noticed – it strikes you later when someone else achieves huge success.
You then go, “Damn, isn’t that what my friend had offered me the other day and I refused!”
Don’t be like the devotee who refused to take help offered by a boatman because he felt God would personally save him from the flood waters! Well, to cut the long story short …. He drowned!!
It’s not often that opportunity comes your way – when one does, don’t refuse it outright. Usually it does not carry the label “OPPORTUNITY”; like I said earlier, chances are that they come labelled ”PROBLEM”!
Give it a thorough examination …. Don’t give up!
I remember dealing with a Major Account while working with a telecom company. It was one of the major players in the IT space and had over a thousand employees. We made a pitch to sell them a large number of connections – a special offer was approved by my Senior Management to win this account. It was a NEVER BEFORE offer.
But the organisation refused to bite; they were not willing to take connections for all employees in the Corporate Name. We ended up getting less than 25 connections for just the Top Management of the company. But since this technology company had clients in the USA we earned a lot of revenue on Roaming – those accounts gave us good revenue.
But that wasn’t the opportunity – we refused to give up the large business opportunity that still existed in this account. The terms of the deal were reworked and we offered separate accounts to each employee with the employer assuring us that the dues would be deducted from the employee’s salary, if not paid directly. They also agreed to inform us when the employee left their roles.
This gave us the necessary leverage and guarantees – we closed over 200 new connections in that scheme that yielded consistently high revenues for us each month.
This opportunity was capitalised by reworking the strategy to create a solution that was convenient to all concerned.
So next time, don’t pass up an opportunity because it wasn’t spelled the right way!
What is your first instinct when someone calls you a liar or has a contrarian view to the point you are making?
You are making this killer-pitch, you are in your element and then someone from the customer’s side butts in with a comment against your opinion or says that a fact you have presented is not correct in his / her opinion.
Quite often, faced with such a situation there is a tendency to get annoyed and the urge to immediately respond with a rebuttal / substantiation of one’s stated view.
I am suggesting that such responses from the customer are windows to his mind. The objection or reaction may be an indicator of what the customer wants / what’s on his mind. By responding strongly and by pushing home our view we are throwing away an opportunity to get closer to making the sale.
Maybe, just maybe, there have been new findings on the subject, or you have not been thorough while preparing your presentation, or even that the speaker is an authority or has experience in that subject area. It could also be because your competitor is strong in this account and has convinced the customer about something differently.
Jumping in with a negation or a strong response is fraught with danger –
- The customer may think you are inflexible and difficult to deal with
- They may stop sharing information with you
- They may get irritated with the stand you are taking and stop taking the discussion further
So, the best course of action when faced with such a situation is to take a step back and pause – it’s a good time to get the customer to speak. By knowing their mind you can reshape your strategy. You may even get to know where the objection is coming from!
If you information is right; gently present proof to substantiate it rather than telling the customer outright that he is wrong.
But the best next step when faced with an objection is to ask a question. A carefully worded question or even a simple “Why do you feel so?” can take you much further than striving to win brownie points with a response.
The next time someone objects to your point of view, are you going to say “No!”? I hope the answer to this one is – “NO!”