Spotlight

Expert Talk Sales with Jacek Chmielecki: Objection Handling Techniques in Sales

It is imminent to encounter customer objections in meetings. In this episode of Expert Talk Sales, Jacek Chmielecki and Britta Lorenz discuss objection handling techniques in sales and the importance of preparation before entering a meeting. Equip yourself with these tactics and practices to better prepare for questions your clients may bring forth.

Holding neetings with new and even existing customers can seem uncertain at times, almost like a box of chocolates. Jacek proposes that the opposite is true. As salespeople, we have the responsibility to predict the types of perspectives and questions that our customers may have in mind. Through extensive research, attentive preparation, and a forecasting process, you can anticipate your customer’s objections with devised solutions.

1. Preparation is crucial for objection handling techniques in sales

One of the most important objection handling skills is research. Thorough preparation is mandatory before any meeting, whether it is with a new buyer or an existing customer. Because of its networking capabilities and international user base, you should start with looking at the LinkedIn profile of your meeting partner. Bear in mind that they will also investigate your profile and company to avoid any surprises. Following this step, you should continue your search into Google or any search engine. Salespeople need to understand the KPIs of their client, the expectations of their daily job. In addition, we must uncover our client’s individual problems, the problems of their company, and of their industry. With this abundance of information, you can then determine common sales objections and how to respond. Try your best to adopt the customer’s perspective on every angle of the meeting and its consequences. Only then will you be able to provide valuable answers and solutions to questions that may arise. Building a comprehensive, bird's eye view of your counterpart's business relates to the 'entrepreneurial' and 'holistic' characteristics of a modern seller from Amy Franko's perspective. Find out more details from our discussion with Franko about the skillset needed for the modern seller's approach to their job, with particular reference to account planning.

If you have troubles finding information or publications about a prospective client, use other approaches to research. One option would be to see how other people and companies interact with your client on various online platforms. Another alternative: dive into the challenges of their overall industry. Industry-specific problems will act as a common ground to refer to when analyzing whether your perceptions of the client are right or wrong. Moreover, you can conduct internal research amongst your colleagues. It is very seldom to enter a meeting with a client that is unfamiliar to your company, with concern to the type of company or industry. Ask others about their thoughts and experiences to further aid your research. Do everything you can to prepare, because the worst thing you can do is to walk into a meeting feeling uneasy and relying on luck.

2. Walk into the meeting with an 'objection blocking' perspective

Jacek proposes ‘objection blocking’ as a valuable objection handling technique in sales meetings. Be the first to communicate objections in customer conversations. Don’t wait until your client communicates their issues, as this puts you on the defense. Instead, trigger the conversation by communicating common concerns (previously forecasted in your research and preparation) that might be in the minds of your customer. Make your client feel as though you are reading their mind, that you truly understand their business challenges and circumstances. This effect will work well in your favor for building a strong rapport.  Once again, there is major emphasis on the quality and time dedication to the preparation prior to a meeting, to ensure that you vocalize probable objections in particular areas of your products or solutions. The importance of research and doing your homework before meethings is also emphasised in our Expert Talk with Ashton Williams, outlining the do's and don'ts of negotiation and deal closing in B2B sales. Following on from Jacek's suggestion, you should use the following procedure when blocking common objectives:

  1. Introduce appropriate solutions for specific objections
  2. Demo the solution (if possible)
  3. Tie down the objection (most important step) – After explaining and justifying the appropriateness of your solution, you need to a confirmation from your client that they understand how their criticism or issue is addressed. This is the act of ‘tying down’ an objective, to ensure that it doesn’t resurface later.

Objection blocking

3. What salespeople SHOULDN'T do if objections still arise

Since objection blocking only covers common problems that clients may have, salespeople still need to hone their objection handling techniques for issues that may appear later in the conversation. A strong suggestion from Jacek is to build a scheme of actions when faced with on objection. They are easy to follow in your head and can put you back on track if you feel stunned or nervous.

So here is what NOT to do:

Do your best not to disagree the first moment a customer has a question or concern. Avoid saying: “yes, I understand this but…”. The word ‘but’ cuts off everything that was previously said. This is a quick way to lose the customer’s or buyer’s interest in your reasonings. Preferably, attempt to approach your client’s concerns with an open mind and try to sympathize with their perspective. In this way, you can start to build trust with your client before you start to suggest the ways your product or service can resolve their issues. Relate their thoughts to similar concerns from other clients, forming your customers to feel understood in an open and honest environment.

Ask why the customer or buyer has objections. When you start asking ‘why’, this directs his/her mindset towards their negative associations of your solution. Alternatively, use follow-up questions to collect information on what is behind the customer’s troubles. There is always a justification for their actions, and it is the responsibility of the sales force to locate it without specifically asking ‘why’. A vital objection handling skill is finding the fear hindering your counterpart from choosing your service. The 2 most common fears in B2B sales is either making the right decision for the company or making the right decision for themselves. We need to ask additional, more inquisitive questions to isolate our customer’s objections and obstacles. Leverage this knowledge for adapting your solutions to address their obstacles head-on.

4. Sales enablement will support in the cultivation and practice of objection handling skills

Sales enablement empowers the whole customer facing team to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and their cross-functional collaboration. Everything is driven with a ‘customer first’ mindset, and all activities go towards presenting value to the customer. Therefore, it is a key component for preparing best practices and schemes around objection handling. Jacek proposes that the first step into this area is through workshops that focus on the customer’s problems. Firstly, sales organizations need to identify the problems their clients might have. Afterwards, salespeople need to understand the scope of what your portfolio and company can solve. Once you have aggregated a selection of problems, categorize them into business and technical problems. And finally, try to understand the implications if a customer decides whether to treat a specified problem or not. By following these steps, you will have created a repository of objections and solutions to discuss in your next sales meeting. Utilize this asset to lead you into client conversations with the ability to handle their specific objections by articulating prepared solutions.

Role play and case-scenarios are another enablement method to develop objection handling techniques. Knowing and doing are 2 different worlds. Many experienced salespeople fall into the trap of underestimating the complexity of objection handling techniques in sales meetings. In every given scenario, you need to ask the right questions to determine what the problem is. Plus, sellers and buyers hold different assumptions of each other, with the latter being imperative to identify. Practice role playing once you have identified the real problem. Additionally, swapping roles is one of the most powerful ways to learn how a customer or buyer may feel and to raise awareness of your own mindset in sales conversations. These are easy and cost-effective ways of learning before entering the field.

Leverage the flexibility of enablement to incorporate a mixture of objection handling methodologies, as Jacek does in his own initiatives. The common thread between various approaches is the metaprograms behind your client’s actions. In most instances, one portion of your prospects are motivated towards achieving a gain, whereas the other half is trying to avert a pain. In your next sales meeting, present both the pain and gain to the client to observe their reaction. As we’re mostly working in the virtual environment, it is encouraged to have cameras switched on to observe the facial expression and body language of customers or buyers. This can help distinguish the messages that resonate with your client to later decide which pathway will connect better to their intentions.

Some final pieces of advice from Jacek's career and experiences...

  • Getting ready is not a simple task. It is time-consuming and you need to dedicate ample time to researching and practicing prior to your sales meetings.
  • During your enablement activities, keep track of all your questions, sales objections, and targeted solutions. Collect these into your repository to use as a guiding asset in your sales conversations.
  • People are buying from people, so be yourself. Regardless if its B2B or B2C, people are making decisions based on emotions and trust. Stay authentic to build a connection and understand their point of view, as this may unlock more opportunities to address and tie down objections.
  • Signing the contract marks a milestone in the sales process, not the end. It is an immense investment to acquire new clients, but the cost of upselling and cross-selling is minimal.
  • Not every prospect has to be your client. Build a defined sales process to determine which prospect is an eligible fit for your company.
  • The bigger your pipeline, the more expansively you are selling your products or services. Contrastingly, the smaller your pipeline, the more fear and uncertainty there is in your sales process.
  • Segment and map the decisions makers involved in your client conversations. In B2B sales, there are several individuals that possess varying significance in the final decision. Creating a detailed map of each stakeholder will help direct your communication elements to each of their specific expectations and KPIs.

 

 

About Jacek Chmielecki

Jacek Chmielecki is a keynote speaker and for the last 20 years has had different management positions in IT, e-commerce and fintech companies. He has been the head of cross-country sales, partner management, customer support departments and setting channels sales strategies in 126 countries. He is an expert in sales, sales presentations, customer experience, customer contact centers, and helping people of different positions working in out-placements. The main driver in all these areas is the need to bring value to all clients.

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Britta Lorenz

Britta Lorenz

Talk to Britta Lorenz:

+43 699 109 833 24

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