Objections are an everyday fact of life. They are also a key part of the selling process. Learning to overcome objections should be an ongoing training and roleplaying topic for sales reps of all experience levels. This point is especially true during a closing presentation.
A successful closing presentation contains seven steps. The steps are as follows:
1. Re-introduce yourself and go over what has occurred since the first call.
2. Review the last sales call. Specifically, quantify and qualify the sales numbers and expectations.
3. Present your media company. (No more than three minutes of product information.)
4. Present your creative ideas with supporting spec ads.
5. Present your schedule campaign and explain how the plan will achieve the stated goals.
6. Overcome any objections encountered in the presentation.
7. Close the sale and have the prospect sign the agreement.
Notice that a rep does not start overcoming objections until step six. A common mistake made during closing presentations is trying to overcome objections when they are encountered. A simple rule of thumb to remember: In a closing presentation, control of the call is turned over to a prospect as soon as the rep starts overcoming objections.
Salespeople should be prepared to manage objections before they hit the field with their closing presentations. Here are some guidelines as well as some real world objections to use for practice.
RULE 1: Isolate Objections.
The last thing a rep needs to encounter during a closing call is for the prospect to make objections like, I viewed your website, and I dont like it, I talked it over with some of our people. They dont listen to your radio station(s), or We asked customers, and most of them read a different shopper.
Trying to overcome objections at the start of a presentation will most likely cause the presentation to stall. The entire presentation is then in jeopardy. The worst case scenario is when a call becomes adversarial. When that happens, the appointment is dead in the water.
During the first five steps, the rep will overcome most of the prospect's objections before finishing the presentation. If the sales rep encounters an objection as they move into the presentation, isolate the objection for the end of the call. Here are some things to say:
-- I know that is important to you. If I may continue with my presentation, I will address your point. I can also show you how we will possibly return up to 20 percent on your advertising dollar.
-- "Didnt we discuss last week that the most important thing to you was return on investment?"
-- "Lets go through the presentation. If I havent answered your questions, we will address them one by one. As a matter of fact, I will make a note of your questions, so we dont forget them.
In a majority of cases, prospects objections will not surface again because the objections are answered in the presentation.
RULE 2: Be Prepared.
When I ride in the field with reps, I ask them what objections that they expect to hear during a call. At least 50 percent of the time, the rep will respond, There wont be any objections. I will ask, Really, so why didnt you close it on the last call? There are always objections. Anticipate objections and rehearse the answers.
RULE 3: Role Play and Practice.
One method of practicing objections is to arrange for peer roleplaying. Sales managers can also try a more radical approach, which is a firestorm. A firestorm is where the manager prepares a list of objections salespeople might hear during a call. Gather the sales team in a conference room and give each rep a book of matches. Ask one of the reps to light a match. The sales manager quickly gives them an objection that could be encountered in a call. The rep has to answer the question before the match burns to the bottom.
In all of the times that I have seen a firestorm, no one has ever gotten burned. If a rep cannot think of an answer, things might get a little hot. The rep will most often drop the match. For those reps who are good at answering objections, they will finish speaking and blow out the match. Most matches last for eight to 10 seconds. That is the same amount of time that a rep should need to answer any objections.
Watch where the smoke detectors are in the conference room! It can get a little smoky after 50 matches. Never let objections get too hot to handle in a sales call. Practice and role play to learn how to overcome objections.
Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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