Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Sales objections are the bane of existence for many salespeople. Here are a few tips to leap the hurdles and tackle the top 3 sales objections.

Sales Objection #1: Your price is too high

  • Which means?
  • Compared to what?
  • How much did you think it would cost?
  • It is high compared to what some companies charge. However, we sell over 800 units a month. Why do you think that is? Do you think that these 800 businesspeople would buy from us if they didn’t see the superior quality and the value they receive?
  • It costs only about 48 cents per hour of operation. That’s less than a can of Coke out of a vending machine. You can afford that, can’t you?
  • What neighborhood do you live in? That’s a nice neighborhood. You are obviously a person who appreciates the finer things in life. Why are you denying yourself top quality now? Does that make sense?
  • Why do you think our competitors are cheaper? Where do you think that they cut the corners? Did they use cheaper materials? Poorly trained craftsmen? Did they cut back on quality control? Why worry about where they cut corners? Why not buy the best and sleep well at night!

Sales Objection #2: I’m too busy; talk to our Purchasing Manager first.

  • (Prospect’s name), suppose you receive a letter marked “Personal and Confidential.” Would you allow your Purchasing Manager to open it? (Wait for a reply.) The proposal I have was intended for your eyes only. What I have to say is too important to be shared with anyone outside the executive suite. Can we talk now?
  • I appreciate how busy you are. However, the opportunity I have to share with you will have a significant impact upon the future of your company. All I ask for is a brief moment to explain the dollar consequences of this important proposal. Isn’t this worth a few minutes of your time?
  • Does he have the authority to approve a $_______ purchase? (If the prospect says yes:) Thank you, I’ll be sure to remind him/her and I’ll see him/her right now. (If the prospect says no:) Well, then, why should I talk with him/her?
  • Our proposal is really very significant. It requires detailed information from top management. Is ____ privy to all details and operating plans known to top management? If not, we should set aside five minutes to cover the key parts of this opportunity together. After that, if you want me, I will be happy to talk with ____
  • Are you too busy to save money?
  • If this opportunity save your company, $____, who do you want to be the hero, you or the Purchasing Manager?
  • We almost never deal with Purchasing Managers. This is an executive-level decision. I need to talk with you.
  • I am sure your Purchasing Manager is very competent. However, I can assure you, this information is beyond his/her realm of expertise. This information is for the person who is in charge of the total bottom-line profitability of the company.
  • I cannot talk with Purchasing Managers. It is company policy. I will either talk with you, or no one in your company will learn of this opportunity. Can we talk?
  • You want me to talk with your Purchasing Manager? I know what you are really saying is that you don’t think this opportunity is worthy of your attention. May I have two minutes to explain to you why it is?
  • You want me to talk with someone else? Why do you think I called you? It wasn’t by chance! The information I have is for you only! After you have heard it, if you want me to talk with ____, I will be happy to. But, I am confident it won’t be necessary.
  • How do you feel when you call someone and they ask you to speak with someone else? Well, that’s the way I fell now! What would you do if you were in my position?
  • Thank you for your suggestion. The news I have is very important. Why don’t you give him/her my name and number, and have him/her call me? I don’t normally talk with Purchasing Managers. I’d really prefer to talk with you. May I have a few minutes of your time?
  • I have already talked with your Purchasing Manager. He said it was very important that you and I talk directly.
  • By handing me over to your Purchasing Manager, what you are really telling me is that you don’t know how critical this matter really is. Would you like to learn why?

Sales Objection #3: I want to work with a more established company

  • You impress me as a very smart businessperson. I know you haven’t invited me here to chat about the weather. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, do you?
  • I understand how safe you feel about a relationship that goes back 15 years. And yet, I saw your eyes light up when you looked at our products. I can see that you’re giving serious consideration to diversity. Just out of curiosity, could we compare the pros and cons of the two choices? Let’s take a piece of paper and list the reasons for and buying from us. The first reason against us is that we haven’t worked with you for the past 15 years. What would be the reasons for giving us a chance to prove ourselves?
  • Is there anything about me that prevents you from doing business with our company?
  • I can say good things about my competitor and if I were you, I would go with them – unless, of course, you want a better product at a better price.
  • I do respect your loyalty to your present vendor. Loyalty is a virtue. While we’re on the subject, how about your loyalty to your company’s long-term profits? Isn’t that kind of loyalty just as important as loyalty to an outside vendor? If I could show you a way of improving your company’s profits, would you take a serious look at our products?

(Adapted from the book “Sales Scripts That Close Every Deal” by Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher of Selling Power)

Photo: Alberto Guimaraes

Warning Signs in Sales

Warning Signs in Sales

Warning Signs in Sales

The cavemen used signs as communication tools when there were no other means to pass on messages. As time went by, signs have lost its significance and now we use languages instead. With the evolution of language, people have lost the ability to read signals even when signs convey rich meaning. Tribal people who have stubbornly refused to integrate into the civilized world still use signs to communicate to others.

To a caveman, signals may be a powerful means of communication. But in today’s sales parlance it is a cue that conveys information that is unobservable from a sender to recipient. Sales management is all about signaling that ultimately leads to increased revenue. Managers design campaigns through the filter of signaling, a process of sending messages with the objective of influencing purchasing behaviors. Done correctly, this can lead to the desired amount of transactional sales. On the downside, market perception may turn out to be unfavorable.

A signal can mean different things to different users (Spence, 1974). When sales executives use signaling, test the waters by experimenting it with a smaller subset of the market. This will enable them to contain rapidly any undesirable consequences and thus manage it appropriately.

When not to use signaling

However, at times, there are costs involved in marketing signaling. It may result in product line cannibalization whereby customers wait for the signaled action and delay purchasing the existing product. Or circumstances beyond the sender’s control may affect the timely delivery of preannounced product or features of it as promised. Similarly, a price cut could be the result of excess inventory or product elimination. So, it would be in the best interest of all to not engage in price war that would dilute profit.

Sign language used by companies

Price signaling raised turbine generator profit/sales ratios in the 1950s. In 1992 Ford announced a 6% price increase to signal not to start a costly war for market share.

Service firms

Firms that sell intangible products may indicate their high value through prestigious addresses, fancy club memberships, office décor, etc. Some companies hint to the customers their willingness to work around customer needs. They do it through differential pricing, increasing staff count for peak times and by providing complimentary services.

Airlines

Airlines are notorious for undercutting fares on those routes that are lucrative to their competitors in a bid to undermine the best efforts of their rivals. In such cases, if the undercutting of fares is done to put a spanner in the works then the rates are brought up to the normal level as soon as the objective has been achieved even before some of the travel agents have found out.

Stockmarket

Firms pay dividends to its shareholders as a sign of strength signaling to the market that there is no need to hoard cash. Some investors look for a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to gauge the health of the enterprise. Such companies use CSR to signal the appropriate messages.

Restaurants

Restaurants open up in an up-market locale with high rents to signal to the patrons of its five-star status as well as to advertise its good food. Warranties and guarantees are other examples marketers use to show the credibility of the quality of the product. They offer insurance against faulty products to potential buyers. Longer the warranty, higher the quality.

Marketing signaling is also messages sent to other companies within the industry either to convey to or to gain information from competitors. Companies selectively leak information to manipulate the opponent’s choice of actions. Employees find press announcements to be more credible than internal communications.

Types of signaling

Kirmani and Rao (2000) distinguishes between two types of signaling based on the financial consequences. They are:

  • Default-independent signals, where companies incur financial loss, such as heavy advertising costs or fixed upfront costs, whether the signals default on their claims or not.
  • Default-contingent signals where companies suffer monetary loss only when the signals default on their claims, for instance, when a high price signal matches with equally high quality.

Keys to signaling success

Maintaining a consistency throughout the organization as to the meaning of the signals is crucial to the success of signaling marketing. Once a signaling strategy has been decided by the company executives the information must be passed on to every employee from top to bottom. Failure to do so may not only cause inconsistency in the quality level but also mar the reputation and integrity of the brand. Equally important is how the rival companies interpret the meaning of signaling.

Also, as responsible marketers, it is rather important to examine your conscience before indulging in signal marketing as using it to promote transactional sales at the detriment of brand integrity is unethical and immoral. In light of this, signaling management has become a tricky task of business leaders. The correct interpretation of sales signals enable the executives to brace themselves to avoid any potential threat or to position them to take advantage of the opportunity.

Having said that, with signaling marketing it is still hard to predict the response of the target audience. Neither is it easy to gauge the perception in the minds of the recipients. Moreover, the way one party perceives the meaning of signals may not be the way another party views them. And that is why it is advisable and a prudent strategy to test the signal response on a smaller scale in an area that closely resembles the target market.

Photo Credit: Bart Anestin

Relationship Selling is like Selecting a Life Partner

Relationship Selling is like Selecting a Life Partner

There is an old saying in the sales community that if you can’t sell yourself, you won’t be able to sell anything else. I see this happen in every salesperson’s life when they use their relationship selling skills in personal day to day life. Any long term project in sales needs the same amount of patience as required in selecting a life partner. This theory is easily understood if the sales process is applied to selecting a life partner as seen in the following process of selling to a new  mining project.

Objective

In both cases (whether it be applied to relationship selling or selecting a life partner) you have a clear objective in mind. The objective in sales for a new mining project is to sell your products and solutions to new green field mining job and in the second case is to select a suitable life partner.

Identifying

This is a critical first step in either mining sales or selecting a life partner. Identifying a mining project starts with networking and seeking geologists that inform you which project sites are under evaluation. Another form of seeking a new mining project is through different media channels, such as TV and newspaper. On the other hand, when you start searching for a life partner, your friends play the role of the “geologists” by introducing you to possible partners. Also, media channels such as social media and dating websites are used to search for the perfect partner.

Prospecting

Once you identify a new mining job, you start prospecting by finding who is the owner, EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) and financiers for that job. Similarly, in the case of a life partner, you start gathering data about his/her personality, parents, friends, family friends and professional life. In both cases, you normally stop chasing either the project or the person at this point if it is not the right fit for you.

Presenting

This is the point where you use all your sales skills. You start working with all stakeholders in the mining project who you identified at the time of prospecting. You discuss their needs, present your products and solutions, show them your references and finally discuss financials. Similarly, in the other scenario, you mutually understand each other, present yourself to each other’s family, introduce your family and friends and discuss your financial standings.

Knowing your competitors

This is the most important step in both scenarios. In mining sales, you always want to be aware of your competitors. Any kind of relationship (any applicable past contract) the company is having with any competitors which can affect this project. Similarly, in other case, you also want to know from your future life partner about their present commitment level and make sure that they are not interested in someone else.

Finalizing

After you’ve finished handling all objections in the mining job, you finalize the deal and get an order through a negotiation. Also, in the case of looking for a life partner, you mutually decide about the marriage date, expenses, size and perhaps the value of the ring, etc. The time taken in winning a mining project can take a number of years or sometimes the project becomes dead at any step. Similarly, in the other scenario, it also takes times and in some cases a relationship doesn’t achieve soul mate status.

Handling situations

A good relationship selling sales person never gets depressed in the initial stages, as he is always working on multiple opportunities; but, in the other scenario, it all depends on each individual whether he is working with others before completing the prospecting stage.

Relationship selling is fun and you use sales in almost all aspects of your life. The only difference in the scenarios is that you stop prospecting in real life after you select a life partner unless the deal goes bad after a few months or years, but in mining sales, you are always working on new sales.

Photo: Yoann Boyer

Sanjeev Neb, CME, CSE, Sales Account Manager- Siemens Canada, Director-Sales and Marketing Executives International Inc. (SMEI)

How To Use Hashtags for Sales and Marketing

How To Use Hashtags for Sales and Marketing

Hashtags are a really useful tool for sales and marketing professionals. You can use them to extend your social media reach and to engage prospects and like minded networkers. Used right they will help you build your following, your posts will reach a far wider audience, you will get more leads, and boost productivity. In this post your will learn how to use hashtags for sales and marketing.

What is a Hashtag?

In social media a hashtag is the hash or pound sign (#) followed by a word or key phrase that is used to categorize what your post is about. For example, if you are posting about social media, you might use the hashtag #socialmedia or #socmed. When you post to social networks using a hashtag, this then becomes searchable i.e. you can click on it to see all posts that use the same hashtag and it makes it more likely that people will find your post.

hashtags for sales and marketingA Few Things to Know About Hashtags

  • Never include a space in your hashtags, if there’s a space then it won’t be searchable.
  • You can include numbers and capital letters in hashtags. Capitals often make the hashtag more readable and understandable.
  • Use hashtags that are short and sweet. Trying to fit a whole sentence into a hashtag makes is incomprehensible and reduces its reach.
  • You can (and should) have your own one that you use to brand your posts.
  • Hashtags are a hugely important on Instagram and are key to building your following
    Be extra careful when using hashtags on Facebook. Don’t use too many (2 is enough) and don’t use them too often.
  • Don’t use made up hashtags that mean nothing unless you are trying to be funny (this can backfire and be a waste of your time).

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

To decide which hashtags to use, first think about what you are posting about and then consider which words you would use to describe your post. For example when we share this post we might use hashtags like #sales and #marketing.

Once you have determined the most appropriate word to use you can dig deeper using tools that help you to determine the most popular ones to use.  Hashtagifyme which allows you to search for a hashtag and view related hashtags and their popularity. Choose the ones that are most popular to get the widest reach.

Instagram Hashtags

Using hashtags is a central component to building your following and engagement on Instagram. This app allows you to use up to 30 tags – if you try to use more you won’t be able to share your post.

The optimum number will depend on your audience and your posts but a general rule of thumb is to use between 5 and 10 (test and try this to see what works for you!). Upload your photo then enter your hashtags in the caption area.

More sophisticated users often enter a few tags in the caption area then more in the comments (there’s also a way to hide them to make your posts look cleaner but still make them searchable by adding line breaks). It’s a good idea to save a list of hashtags you frequently use so that you can simply copy and paste them from your phone. Instagram has a useful feature when entering hashtags that allows you to see how often these terms are used.

Twitter Hashtags

Twitter can be a really confusing network and most people really aren’t sure how to use it effectively. Hashtags can really help with that as they help to organise constant streams of updates and help you (and your audience) find the nuggets of information they are really interested in. Use a relevant hashtag before relevant keywords to help your Tweets show up better in search. You can use them anywhere in your Tweet and popular hashtags often become trending topics. A general rule of thumb is to use 2 – if you use more then engagement will decrease.

How to Use Hashtags for Sales and Marketing
how to use hashtags

Why are hashtags important for sales and marketing? First of there’s a lot of noise out there – using the right hashtags both to search social networks and to share your content will help you and your followers hone in on the important stuff.

  • Hashtags help your brand reach a wider audience so use a hashtag for your brand – my company, Out-Smarts uses #outsmarts and SMEI uses #SMEI. – to differentiate your posts.
  • Use a hashtag for your location if your audience is local i.e. #vancouver to help people in your area hone in on your posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the hashtag #forsale or #sale as this also helps more people find you – although you will probably want to use another one that categorizes what you sell!
  • Customizing hashtags can help you track campaign engagement so use them consistently. You can track and measure these too to determine how often your audience uses or mentions your campaign hashtag.
  • People use social networks to search for things they want to buy. Get in the habit of searching social networks for posts that include hashtags describing your product or service. Listening and responding will help engage buyers and make that cold call slightly warmer!
  • The best hashtags to use will depend on the product and service you are providing – it’s a good idea to check out the hashtags your competitors are using and to research which ones get the most engagement (retweets, comments etc.).
  • Hashtags should be used at your sales and marketing as they allow allow attendees to connect and network virtually and you can easy find and follow attendees who use them.

Using hashtags efficiently and effectively can be a great way to increase your social media productivity. Remember to use them efficiently and effectively according to which platform you are on.

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Photo credit: quinn.anya via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
Driving Sales Through Effective SEO

Driving Sales Through Effective SEO

One of the most effective ways to fill your sales funnel is by driving targeted traffic to your website. Effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tells Google what your site is all about so that Google can then map people’s search to your site in the search engine results page. Driving sales through effective SEO can really grow your sales funnel.

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t something that should happen as an afterthought. If you are planning a blog post, a new page on your website or other content such as a new product on your store, it is important to consider SEO right at the start. If you do so then your post, page or offering will be more relevant, in demand and it will get more traffic, visitors and shares.

Here’s a checklist of the simple SEO tactics that can help your post, page or products get found:

SEO Checklist

1. Every page on your site shouFirst determine what your new page or blog post is going to be about and draft some pertinent keywords – i.e. words that your clients might use to search for your content and that describe what your post is all about. Go with your gut instinct and think about the words your customers use when asking you about this topic.Google suggestions - Small Business SEO Checklist

2. Use Google Trends to determine whether people are searching for these words or phrases. Google suggestions is also a great way to determine if this is a good topic, just start entering your word or phrase in Google and see how it completes it in the search dropdown that shows up. The suggestions that show up first are the most popular searches relating to your keyword. If you want to go really deep you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to determine the competition and value of your intended words or phrases (which isn’t ideal as it’s based on data from paid advertising and not overall search), or even better, a tool like Keyword Explorer from MOZ.

Another even easier way to determine the competition for a key word / phrase is to Google it and see how many results there are.

Your goal in this step is to determine phrases or words that have a high volume but low competition.

3. After doing the research in 2 above, determine a) your focus keyword / phrase, and b) secondary keywords that apply (use these in the text when writing your content). Craft your text and content around these.

4. To make it more likely that your page or post will be found when people search for it, the word / phrase that you have identified as your focus keyword / phrase should be used in the:

  • Title of your post
  • META title
  • META Description
  • Focus keyword
  • Alt Tags of your images
  • Text of your page – but not repetitively – you are writing for people not search engines! A good rule of thumb is 3 – 6 times for a 300 – 600 word post or page
  • In your headers and subheadings
  • URL

Yoast is a great tool to help you with this, if you are using WordPress I highly recommend it.

5. The META on your site might be the first impression anyone sees of your small business so take a little extra time to craft it well. When entering your META follow the META tag rules below- if you are using Yoast this plugin will help you with this:

Your META title (in purple in the image below) should be less than 56 characters, META description (below the URL in grey on the below)  should be less than 156 and it should compel people to click.

META Tags - Small Business SEO Checklist

SEO is Important

Small Business SEO ChecklistI meet a lot of people who think SEO is too technical so they simply avoid doing it but it doesn’t have to be and ignoring means you are losing out on lots of potential visits and shares. I hope that this simple SEO Checklist will encourage you to add SEO to your posts and pages. Doing so could be huge for your site and your sales!

Related posts by this author:

What is SEO

The importance of optimizing your website

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Let me let you in on a little secret. I love gatekeepers. I absolutely adore them and I’m dead serious. Do you know why? They keep competitors away from MY customers and keep other salespeople (who give up too easily or don’t have the proper skills) from reaching the decision maker’s I’m trying to sell.

Make sense?

Here are a couple of strategies and tips to get you started keeping your calendar full.

First, I’m going to assume you know who the buyer is at the company you are calling on. If not, the gatekeeper is NOT the person to ask. The red flag goes WAY up when you have to call them to find out. Never call and ask for “who handles the buying”.

One of the biggest advantages a professional salesperson has over an experienced one is confidence. And confidence is displayed in your voice inflection in this case.

When the gatekeeper picks up, your voice inflection should suggest you are calling an old friend or family member.

“Who’s speaking?”

If they say, “Who are you trying to reach?” I simply say this: “It’s Butch, is Bob around?” Notice I didn’t say Bob Smith or Mr. Smith, etc. I’m treating this like I’m calling an old friend that I’ve called a hundred times.

However, nine times out of ten the gatekeeper will answer your initial question with, “This is Sherry” to which you reply (again, very naturally) “Oh, hey Sherry its Butch, is Bob around?” Now, several things happen here:

  • Sherry thinks she is supposed to recognize my voice.
  • I didn’t ask to speak to Bob or if Mr. Smith was in or anything very formal—I simply asked if Bob was around.
  • Sherry assumes Bob and I know each other and that we’ve spoken before.
  • Sherry will almost feel as if Bob will be mad at her if she doesn’t put through the call from “his friend” Butch. Trust me on this one, I’ve done it hundreds of times.

This is not rocket science and I am NOT being deceitful. If Sherry asks if Bob is expecting my call, I will answer with a chuckle, “Well, probably not today, I was just going to pick his brain for a second.”

If Bob is not in and Sherry wants to take a message, I leave this: “Just tell him Butch called I’ll give him a buzz later.” Again, this is natural and friendly. Now, WRITE DOWN Sherry’s name because the next time you call, you are going to say, “Hey Sherry, its Butch did I catch Bob in this afternoon?” Now you know BOTH of them.

If you learn this strategy and use it naturally your success rate of getting past gatekeepers will increase dramatically. In fact, I’m going to say you will be SHOCKED at how easy it is to reach the decision maker—and you will come to love those gatekeepers that keep the “others” out!

Join SMEI for a webinar on January 20th where you’ll learn new tactics for filling up your calendar in 2015.

Butch Bellah
www.butchbellah.com