February 23, 2009

Tips on how to use customer questions & objections to sell

1. Remember questions and objections are welcomed by most salespeople. First they demonstrate that the customer is engaged and potentially interested. Second, they guide the salesperson to the key issues that must be addressed in meeting the customers’ needs.

2. List the questions, or objections you are likely to get and prepare your answers in advance. As in so many areas preparation is 90% of success.

3. Welcome and acknowledge any questions, or objections that arise. Remember, most people like to be told that they have asked an important, or a good question.

4. Head off key objections at the pass. Anticipate the key objections you are likely to arise and tackle them in advance in your sales presentation – don’t let them linger unaddressed.

5. Before you answer make sure you fully understand the question – if you are in any doubt confirm the question. If the question is very broad confirm what specific area you should address first.

6. Look behind the question / objection. For example, if the customer asks about price is he asking about the cost, or is he struggling to appreciate the value for money dimension. The only way to find out is to ask.

7. Need a little more time to think? Asking for the question to be repeated, or repeating the question out loud gives you a little bit more time to formulate your answer.

8. Customers are increasingly impatient so get to the point and keep it brief. Talking around the point may give the impression that you cannot, or do not want to answer.

9. Once you have answered the question shut up. If you draw out your answer you are likely to lose the interest of the customer and cast doubt on your answer.

10. Don’t directly say no. Instead use the ‘Feel, Felt and Found’ technique. That is ‘I understand how you feel… many customer have felt the same way… however they found that what actually happened when they implemented the solution was…’ Employ independent reports, customer and expert statements carefully, don’t make the customer look like he is wrong.

11. Use stories to support your answers. By relating the experiences of another customer you add both interest and authenticity to what you are saying.

12. Offer your opinion, experiences and stories with confidence, but don’t come across a ‘know it all’. Transform direct answers into discussions, by adding points of reflection (e.g. that is what most of our customer say… but I don’t know if the same would apply for your team?) and questions (e.g. ‘does that make sense from your point of view?’)

13. Maintain eye contact and smile while you are answering questions / dealing with objections. Your body language will tell the customer a lot about your confidence in both your company and your answers.

14. Give your answers slowly. Feeling under pressure to answer, many salespeople talk fast in answering. In addition to making the answers more difficult to understand, talking fast can create the impression of nervousness on the part of the salesperson.

15. Gague how your answers are ‘going down'; by observing the customers reactions, as well as by asking confirmation questions once you have finished.

16. Don’t say what you can’t do, without re-emphasising what you can. For example, ‘no it does not include a reporting suite, because it has been designed to integrate with the reporting tools that are already used in most organisations…’

17. If you don’t know then say you don’t know. Customers don’t expect you to know everything as long as somebody else in your company has the answer, or that you can find out.

18. Honesty is the best policy; however you will be faced with dilemmas. For example you may be asked if your product does A. It will do A in the future, but that feature has not been fully developed yet and you don’t necessarily want the customer to know. In cases like this it is very important in advance to have decided what the ‘official company line’ is.

19. Don’t beat yourself up if you get the answer wrong on occasion. Make a note of the question, or objection and prepare a better answer for the next time it arises.

20. Use sales aides or visuals to help in answering complex questions. For example, in answer to a question about network configuration, a diagram will paint a thousand words.

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