This is knowledge on the part of the customer, not you. When you secure a potential meeting with a prospect, they will invariably have something in their mind that they believe you're going to offer. A disconnect then occurs when what you present and what they thought you were offering don't align. That's okay though. This is the education part of the sales process, where you're allowing them to start to understand what it is you're really trying to bring to the table.
When prospects feel they're being sold to, they tend to keep stuff close to their chests; they tend to hide things as they're waiting to see what it is you might bring to the table first. It's a pretty typical negotiating tactic. We can turn things around by making this more of a relationship-based sale and taking a more consultative approach to the way we sell our services.
Perceptions can be really damaging. A perception can be as simple as the belief that you're just going to be expensive, or that, "Hey, I've had two other service providers in here and they never lived up to the commitment that they gave me." In the latter case, you're actually going to have to overcome some of the objections that predecessors have created and you're going to have to manage and mitigate those.
Finally they may not actually have understood the value of what you’re offering. We often see people just send off a proposal and the first thing a prospect does is flip to the last page and look at price. They didn't look through anything you offered ahead of that in the justification behind the price. This is part of the reason we always suggest delivering proposals face-to-face—or at least remotely over the phone on a Webex. This way you can take them through the value of your service offering before you get to the price.
When it comes to overcoming objections there are four key steps:
- Acknowledgement: Acknowledge that you understand they have a concern.
- Clarify: Make sure you understand the objections by getting them to clarify their thinking. You need to ask pointed questions to identify the objection correctly.
- Resolve: Once you’ve clarified the issue, you can start to provide value with resolution. What we mean by that is you can demonstrate you have now understood what the objection is and you've acknowledged it. From here you need to provide some form of comfort to them so they feel they can move on.
- Acceptance—When you feel you've got to that point, then you can ask for acceptance—not acceptance of the deal, but acceptance that you've handled the objection in a clear and concise manner and that they're comfortable to move forward.
The four-step process will help you be able to move prospects more successfully through your sales process. You should also be practicing this with anybody who interacts with your customers, because objections can come up on a fairly regular basis.
To find out more and really get to grips with objection handling, watch Objection Handling: Increase the Odds of Closing the Deal, part of the sales series in our MSP Institute on-demand webinars
David Weeks is senior global channel sales manager at SolarWinds MSP.