“I’ll have to think about how I can afford that. I’ll get back to you.”
How often have you heard this when you’re trying to sell your services? You’ve landed a lead, they’ve indicated that they’re interested in what you have to sell and you’re now in the stage of trying to close the deal.
Everything seems to be going well until you get to the price. Suddenly they’re backing off, hesitating and telling you they need to think about it, or they will get back to you later. You were sure that they were ready to buy, all the signs were there and they were excited about it.
And yet, now they’re backing off.
Why do they hesitate at the last moment?
In Sean D’Souza’s excellent book The Brain Audit, he explains how clients think and why they back off at the last minute. In his paradigm, there are seven things you have to address to get to a sale. Until you’ve addressed all seven, chances are that you won’t make the sale.
One of the seven elements is objections.
An objection is a signal that the (potential) client is not yet convinced that what you’re offering is worth the investment. That sounds pretty obvious, right? But speak to sales professionals and they will tell you that an objection is actually a buying signal – your client knows that they want what you’ve got, and now they’re just ticking off the boxes to make sure they’re made the right decision.
Whichever of these you choose to believe (and both are valid), you need to overcome those objections. But first, you have to recognise the patterns.
Find the patterns
Building a business is tough not only because there are a lot of moving parts, but also because you have to do a lot of on-the-job learning. If you don’t know how to market, you’re going to have to learn what it’s all about. If you don’t know how to sell, you’re going to have to learn that too.
As you actually do marketing, or sales, you’re learning. And pretty soon you’re going to see some patterns emerge. In sales, one of the patterns that you will see emerge is that people object to price. Another is that they’re too busy, or this is not the right time.
If we can recognise these patterns – things that show up time and again – we can address them before they happen. Or be ready for them when they show up.
So the first lesson here is to look back at your past sales – both successful and unsuccessful, and try to see if there are patterns.
Price objections are one common pattern.
Find the underlying cause
Once you know a pattern exists, you can start looking at what the underlying cause for the objection may be. In the case of price objections, here are some of the most common ones:
- the value is not clear (is this worth investing in?);
- the risk is too high (am I just throwing my money away?); or
- finances are tight (can I afford to invest in this now?).
I don’t like or believe in the “hard sell”. So if a client is really in a bad spot (they can’t afford it) or I’m not sure that I can really deliver value, I will immediately back off. That’s what I would want someone to do for me.
But if the client really wants it, and needs it, and can benefit from it, and you know they’re going to recoup their costs in a reasonable time, you may just not be doing a good enough job selling it.
So you need to up your game:
- You need to make it clear what the value is. Offer them a way to calculate the return on their investment (ROI).
- Provide proof that this works – previous client testimonials are on the best ways to do this.
- Offer them a risk reversal – if what you’re offering doesn’t work, return their money.
By addressing objections – and the underlying causes – you’re offering your client the opportunity to really evaluate what you have and whether they think it is worth investing their time and money.
Pre-empt by providing as much information as possible
So, now you know that there is a pattern, you know what the underlying causes are and you know how to counter them. You now need to pre-empt as many of these objections as you can.
You can pre-empt objections by providing as much information as possible. I often have discussions with clients about whether to publish prices on their websites or not. My philosophy is quite simple:
I put prices up so I can disqualify people who are not my ideal clients.
I am not doing myself or them any favours by hiding my pricing; in fact I am hurting my business and theirs by spending a lot of time with people whom I can’t help. Will I turn away some people that could have become clients? Of course – but I would rather have fewer prospects whom I can really help than more prospects in my funnel that I can’t help.
It is my job to make sure that my marketing and sales material overcomes all of the potential objections my prospects may have – including pricing. Spending time one on one with potential clients is an expensive use of my time; I would like to make sure I spend it with prospects who are as well qualified as possible.
When you get to the stage where you have to counter an objection, you’re already talking to your potential client. They may say something like “my finances are really tight right now, I will have to think about it.”
My personal preference in this case is to counter – but counter as gently as possible. I do not want to force them into something – resentment is the last thing I want my clients to feel towards me. So I will remind them that there is a money-back guarantee, or ask them if they calculated the ROI.
And just as often I will close down the conversation with something like “well, why don’t you think about it and get back to me when you feel you’re ready”. I would rather have clients who are not only convinced this is the right thing – I also need them to be committed to doing everything they need to make it a success. A reluctant client is not a good client.
In this article you’ve learnt how to overcome objections to the sales process. In summary:
- clients hesitate to buy because you haven’t addressed all of their potential objections;
- you have to find the common patterns that objections take;
- and then you have to find the underlying causes to those objections;
- pre-empt objections before they are raised by providing as much information as possible, including price (if possible); and
- counter objections gently and be prepared to walk away.
Sales is a process of learning, and as you learn you will get better at it. You don’t have to learn how to do the hard sell, and trying to do something to other people that you won’t like done to yourself will show up as insincerity. So stick to who you are and treat people the way you would like to be treated.
What you can do now
If you’re struggling with sales, follow the steps in this article to see if you can spot the patterns and overcome objections before they’re raised. Remember, a reluctant client is a bad client – and this is your life and your business, so work with clients who want to work with you.
Good luck with your sales.