8 ways to destroy sales objections BEFORE they are asked

Hurdles
Image by Ambrosio Photography via Flickr

Every business performs some kind of sales presentation or pitch to help convince a prospect to buy. The pitch might be face-to-face (at a sales counter or at the door), over the phone, through a written proposal, or online. Not all of those sales are completed, though; they are frequently halted by objections.

Objections are the cold shower that can kill the heat of the sales moment. They are stubbing your toe while trying to be cool. And when not handled correctly, the sale will be lost.

Here’s how to avoid that problem:

STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR TOP OBJECTIONS
As soon as you read the word “objections” in the title of this post, you thought of a half dozen objections you hear from prospects. Price is always a big one. Competitive offerings and value are usually near the top. Maybe time-to-delivery or quality might be up there, too.

STEP 2: CREATE OBJECTION-DESTROYING CONTENT
Next, you need to find a place earlier in your sales funnel to address the objection before it’s even asked. By addressing the objection earlier, you’ll be able to proactively eliminate the objection even before it’s an issue and, if the prospect has agreed to the truth of your point earlier, it’s harder for them to later say “well, I didn’t have a problem with it before but I do now.”

You don’t have to make your prospects view all of your objection-destroying content, you should find a way to make it all available to them to view if they want while also embedding some objection-destroying content in the things they will look at anyway.

Here are eight places to create content that will help to proactively destroy objections:

  1. FAQs are a natural place to address objections. If you do address them there, don’t bury your FAQs on your website. Include links to it prominently in your online sales literature and emails.
  2. Create specific testimonials (especially video testimonials of real clients) that are built around a specific objection. Don’t name the video: “When you think our prices are too high, watch this”, but do make it related. Perhaps something like: “High value services are worth the investment”.
  3. Write a blog post about each objection. Keep the links handy to direct people to the blog when necessary.
  4. In some cases, you can crush objections right in your USP or tagline. If your company is exploring a brand revitalization, collect the top objections and see about working one of them in.
  5. Create a one-page brochure or website page about each objection. Include charts, testimonials, and other proofs that counter the objection. Include links to some of them in some of your other work.
  6. If you have 1 – 3 objections that are more persistent than others, make them part of your elevator speech and “About Us” page.
  7. Address them earlier in your sales presentation, long before the customer asks about them.
  8. Offer additional products or services that address the objection. For example, if price is an objection, have lower-priced options available.

You’re never going to completely remove objections. But by doing this, you’ll help to eliminate more and more of them in every presentation.

Grow your business by selling with stories

Once upon a time I was a stockbroker and investment rep. I loved the analytical side of the biz and I loved connecting with people. But being an investment rep is a lot of stealing clients away from other reps, which is not cool. (Sadly the crappy parts of the job outweighed the good parts so I decided to do something that I enjoyed far more: Write for brokers, advisors, and investors).

During our training to become investment reps, one of the best techniques that my peers and I learned for connecting and selling was storytelling.

People love stories because stories educate while they entertain. Some stories are as simple as an analogy, other stories can be involved and should place the prospect or customer squarely at the center.

Of course, the investment world isn’t the only place we see stories, although it’s very effective there because the stockmarket can be a big field of question marks and clients need stories to help them understand. We also see stories in many other industries. Good, engaging commercials tell stories and classic copywriting (like the infamous “They laughed when I sat down at the piano…” magazine advertisement) tells stories, too.

Stories are appropriate throughout the sales process, from lead generation through presentation, closing the sale, and building client relationships. They should appear in your content but they should appear elsewhere, too, like in sales presentations.

17 SELLING WITH STORY IDEAS
In an article by ManageSmarter.com called “Winning Customers Through Story: A New Take” (no longer available online) Lori L. Silverman and Karen Dietz talk about the various stages of your sales funnel where stories are appropriate and how to implement them effectively. They give 17 bullet points at the bottom of the article to show business owners how to include stories throughout their business. Some of the tips include: “Translating and relaying market research data and findings through composite stories”, “Having the organization’s founding core values and folklore already crafted as hip-pocket stories, ready for sharing”, and “Co-creating a future story”. Brilliant! Check out this article and implement even a few of these 17 story recommendations.

EXAMPLE
When I was a stockbroker, I would sometimes need to educate clients on the buy-and-hold investing strategy. So I would use a story like this:

Imagine that you bought a house in a neighborhood and every house in the neighborhood had a big sign in front of it. The sign was a live ticker of the value of the home. Sometimes the prices rise when there are more buyers than houses or when someone paints their kitchen. And sometimes prices fall because there are more homes for sale than buyers or because the street is dirty or because one of the neighbors is noisy.

Does it matter to you what the price of your house is today? What about tomorrow? Or the day after?

Of course not. Because there are only two prices that really matter: The price you bought your house for and the price you sell it for. The fluctuations in between are completely irrelevant to you until you decide to sell.

It’s the same with stocks. When you buy a stock and hold it, the fluctuations that the stock faces from one day to the next are meaningless. Even economic downturns can be worrisome to investors but they don’t need to be.The problem is, while our homes don’t have a live ticker in front of them, the stock market does and people can be very sensitive to individual fluctuations even though it doesn’t affect their long-term view.”

STORIES EDUCATE, ENGAGE, AND SELL
Stories are compelling and a great way to connect with your clients and customers. Take the time to write your own stories and your audience will become riveted to what you have to say.

START HERE
If you’re not sure where to start, just list the top 3 objections you face during a sale. Then write a story (either an analogy, a true story, or a composite of client experiences) that addresses the objection and challenges the listener to rethink their position.

Why you’ll never have to pay taxes again

It’s tax day in the US, which means that most of my clients are busy dotting i’s and crossing t’s and fingers.

Mayan Calendar
Image by NCReedplayer via Flickr

But here’s the good news for everyone: If the Mayans are correct (and why wouldn’t an extinct, pre-industrial civilization that brutally sacrificed thousands of innocent people be correct?), the world will end on December 21st, 2012. That means you only need to do 2010’s taxes in 2011 and 2011’s taxes in 2012.

And then that’s it. You don’t have to worry about it any more!

Granted, the money you would have spent on your 2011 taxes will be used to buy guns, beef jerky, and sheet metal to convert your Ford Taurus into a Mad-Max-style post-apocalyptic fighting machine.

But you won’t have to file taxes anymore, so there’s an upside to everything.

What are you doing about your most important business assets?

IMG_2782
Image by Maciek StL via Flickr

If the fire alarm sounded and you had to run out of the building right away, what would you take with you (besides the cat and a picture of your mom)? What elements of your business would you consider most precious?

Put another way, if a giant hole opened up and almost all of your business emptied into it, what elements would you desperately cling to?

I like thinking about this and I advise other business owners to revisit this question from time to time because it helps to keep us all focused. As Einstein advised: “Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler”. That’s what this exercise does.

MY MOST IMPORTANT ASSETS
Our businesses have lots assets: A blog, a list of clients, content distributed online, a bunch of processes, a desk, a chair, a small factory, etc., etc. Although these things are important, they aren’t all essential.

For me, it’s just two business assets (plus my ability to type, I guess): As long as I still had my proposal and my 4 step sales process, I’d be okay. My entire business is built on these two finely-tuned machines. If I ever needed to rebuild from scratch, I could do it quickly as long as I had those two things.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED
This exercise can teach us a lot. For my own assets, I’ve learned that it’s all about the process. Although I participate in several communities (my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn), performing this exercise made realize that I am not participating in my communities as effectively as I could be.

That’s a wake-up call for me. I need to do a far better job of engaging my audiences. I enjoy connecting with them and I think I am developing some rapport in those places, but not to the degree that they are an essential asset.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Start by listing every asset that your business has, whether a physical asset, an informational asset, or some other kind of asset that has a business value. For some of you it might be

  • A subscriber list
  • A proprietary tool
  • A system or method
  • A team
  • A distribution network
  • An ebook
  • A regular podcast
  • … and there are probably many other things, too

Then ruthlessly strip away each one. Could you survive without it? At some point you’ll arrive at a small list – probably just a handful of things – that you could not do without. I don’t think you should have more than 3 or 4 and you should be seriously concerned if you don’t have any.

WHAT TO DO NEXT
After you’ve found what your most important assets are, you need to do three things:

  1. Protect them: Protect them by setting up barriers so that others can’t steal them away. If it’s a group of people, become indispensable to them. If it’s a process, as in my case, hold onto it tightly.
  2. Extend them: Never stop tweaking and modifying these assets. Invest in making them more useful to you. If it’s a list of subscribers, refine that list or segment it. If it’s a process, as in my case, look at automating it
  3. Add another: After reviewing your current essential assets, look at adding another one to fill a gap that you might have. As I’ve mentioned, my communities aren’t nearly as valuable to me as they should be so I’m going to do something about that. If you have a valuable community, perhaps it’s a process or system you could implement to improve your business.