Anticipating And Handling Your Customer’s Objections

by | Feb 1, 2008 | Objections

Most sales professionals fear customer objections. But objections are a reality and they are healthy. It just means that the customer is thinking of every possibility as they consider your solution. But it also means you have their attention [a critical step] and they are interested in engaging in a dialogue [a critical next step]. Now you can work toward framing the discussion. So expect and welcome when customers raise objections; provided you are prepared to respond effectively, in a manner tuned to their personality style.

It is inevitable that in every sales situation there will be objections at some point in the sales cycle. These cannot be ignored. They must be handled for the sales cycle to move forward towards closure. Handling customer objections properly builds strong momentum toward success. While some sales training programs believe that objections can be prevented, we see objections as an opportunity to dialogue with the customer. We believe the negative effects of customer objections can be minimized by focusing on the needs of the customer – and specifically, not pushing features. You are selling to a person. Address the needs of the customer and remember their needs reflect their personality types. Use this information on style and preferences as you convey the benefits of your products and services.

Common objections you can expect with each of the personalities would be:

  • For the Gold personality expect more factual objections in regards to the financial aspects of the solution. “What is the return on the investment?” “How will the solution impact our bottom line?” “How will it improve productivity or decrease expenses?” Golds will evaluate the numbers in regards to proposals.
  • Oranges place emphasis on the process of buying. They want to raise objections. Oranges also want to know the immediate benefits. While emotional objections are common for the Orange personality, Oranges like to negotiate since they view this as a game. They will question: “Is this the best possible deal.” “How will I look? How will my relative position change, if I make the decision go with your company?”
  • For the Blue expect more emotional objections relating to how the products or services will impact the people in the organization, employee morale, customer satisfaction. “Will the decision be well received by the rest of the team?” Objections are related to people and relationships.
  • For the Green personality, expect factual objections around the capability of the solution, the technical aspects, and the functionality – where the solution might fit in to the overall technology strategy down the road. “What are some of the alternative approaches to the solution?” “What is your capability as a company to support the solution in the future?”

Your goal is to meet these objections and turn them into reinforcements for customer decisions. Customers decide based on their personal needs and their business needs. Objections come in two types – factual objections and emotional objections. Depending on the personality style of the customer, you can anticipate, and prepare for receiving more factual objections or more emotional objections. Your goal is to provide answers to these objections tailored to the personality styles of the buyers. Generate emotions in the customer, personal needs, which reinforce the customer’s desire to pick your solution. Likewise, reinforce your products support of the business need, as weighted in importance by the specific personality type.

Factual objections are just that. They are a fact that must be dealt with. Facts tend to be more important to those that are left brain, your Greens and Golds. Factual objections are often about ‘the numbers’. “Your price is over our budget.” “The return on investment is short of our expectations.” “The terms and conditions need to include a three year warranty.” Factual objections must be addressed since they point where your products or services are missing the mark in a certain area.

Accept that a “factual objection’ is correct from the customer’s point-of-view. Factual objections need to be dealt with head on, but do not fight it directly. Avoid making responses such as “you are wrong.” Instead leverage the personality-style weighted importance of business needs. As we mentioned earlier, the most important question we can ask a customer at the start of a sales call is “when it comes to investing in [the product or service] what is most important to you?” This will give you a good indication of their personality style that you will now use to “redirect” the objection. Refocus back to what each objector mentioned was most important to them.

An example of this might be the value a product has. For example, if the most important thing when buying a computer is storage space and speed, then an objection about price needs to be redirected back to the need for the storage space and speed. “You are paying for the storage and performance.” “For these features you are getting the best price available.” Consistency is important to Greens and Golds. Remembering their prior answer about relative importance, lead with a question which they must answer in your favor to remain consistent: “Which is more important to you, a lower price or the greater functionality?”

Emotional objections are more common from right brain personalities – the Blues and Oranges. Emotional objections are windows into the buyer’s doubts about a product or service or of your company’s ability to perform. For example, doubts can be around customer service. “Can I trust you to follow through? Will it really be three years before I can expect to upgrade the system?” These are emotional objections that require you, as the sales person, to either “clarify or prove”. They are not facts, or at least not simply facts, as we key on the use of “really” in the example. These objections require you to reassure the customer that their objection should not be a concern “to them”. For example, for a Blue, getting a customer reference or testimonial can enhance a feeling of belonging and alleviate their concern. For an Orange, the reference should imply the solution helped the referrer win something.

Whether a customer’s objection is factual or emotional, you need to alleviate the objection to move the sale forward. We use a model for addressing objections which we call the four A’s: Acknowledge, Address, Acceptance, Alleviate.

  • First with every objection we encounter we need to acknowledge the customer’s concern. We do that by simply stating: “we hear what you are saying, I understand, I see.” We are not agreeing with the customer, but simply acknowledging we have heard their concern.
  • Next we need to address the objection. If it’s factual we must try to refocus or redirect the customer back to their most important need which will hopefully outweigh the objection in terms of importance. If the objection is emotional we must clarify or prove to the customer that their concern is not a valid one or they should not have the concern.
  • Once the objection is addressed we must ask for acceptance. “Are you satisfied with our answer to your concern?” If we don’t ask for acceptance the customer likely will return to this later in the sales cycle.
  • If they said yes, the objection is alleviated and cannot be brought up again.

The next time your customer has an objection, consider their personality style when addressing their concern! Now apply this lesson – I am an Orange, if you were selling to me, turn me to your side; if I am an asset on your team, I’m coaching you and not your competition. Ask for our training on selling to specific personalities.