Have you ever taken “NO” as a customer? It is painful, right? When you don’t get what you asked for, the conversation leaves a bitter taste even though the person offers an apology. However, you might still stick with the brand depending on the way you are being treated. Here in this post, I am sharing my experience on how to handle objections without hurting the sentiments of the customers
Loyal customers are valuable to any business. Most companies might not have what the customer have requested for. A simple plain “No” would turn off the customer excitement and may lead to disowning the brand. At the same time, accepting all requirements from the customers might deviate the brand for its vision. So, agents who handle the customers should be trained to handle the situation without committing false promises.
I have shared a few steps which I follow to ensure that customer leaves with a positive note after the discussion.
When the customer comes with his requirement, be graceful and appreciate them for bringing it to your business notice. This simple gesture would build an initial connect and trust. But, let your response not sound scripted. Be genuine in your reply.
You have to show some gratitude to the customer which is one of the most important things in the customer service and customer success field. When you use a sentence like “I do understand why you need the feature” that will show the customer that your company is not degrading or criticizing them for asking a certain feature.
This is something many of the agents failed to do so in the conversation. Reiterating the details and why it is important to the customer will give them a sense of relief. It guarantees that someone had not only listened but understood what has been requested by them.
Here come the difficult part. When the requested feature or item is not in store, be direct in informing that it is not available. False promises or excuse is a strict No-No. Be honest on why you are saying no to them. Only then the customers would understand the reason on why it is not available. Or else, they will get easily frustrated and a bad impression is stamped against your business.
Workaround works. When you can’t help the customer as per their request you can offer them the alternate option recommended by your company. If that, works for the customer you can buy sometime until the actual feature is made available provided your org accepts it.
When the requirement doesn’t align with business vision, I have recommended a few other companies that can be of help to them.By doing so customers feel good that you are taking care of their needs. Maybe you lost one customer now but you gained a good or positive relationship with them. Also, you have avoided the negative review from them.
Requirement or features requested by customers should be documented in central repository. So, organization should set policies and provide tools that can help them collect the data. When the demand is high, there are possibility that it may become a part of the product soon or it might pave way for new opportunity. Let the customer knew that this has been updated in the system which gives some kind of assurance that business listens to customer needs.
Once you recommend the customer a workaround or referred them to another company, don’t wash-off your hands. Follow up with them once in a while about how things are work now. This would make the customers think that you still care more about them.So don’t think that you lost their business but focus on the relationship which would take boost the brand value.
Objection handling is an art. Presales engineer, Product consultant and customer service manager should master this art as they are the ones who come across such situations frequently. Package your “No” in such a way that the news is taken positively. And, don’t drop the ball as soon as conversation is over. Keep them in the loop. Stay in touch with them through social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. so that you can share the content, blog post, articles that are useful to them. Build relationship and grow your brand.
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During my initial days as Presales, I was afraid to handle objections. Over a period, I saw this as an opportunity so started to embrace it. But, that’s not enough. You need to master this art of objection handling. Only then there is success.
The core approach was
- Acknowledge what the client has to say
- Decode the reason behind his objections
- Empathizing always works.
- You are not alone.
- Help overcome hurdle with customer success story
Acknowledge the client
When objections are raised the first thing we do is to Defend. By doing so, we would keep intercepting the client’s thoughts. And, this would end up looked upon as being rude. It will raise doubts in the mind of the prospect about you and the service/product you offer.
Listen to all his objections and make a note of the points. Let them know you will get back once they finish.
Decode the reasons.
Objections are raised for various reasons. By listening to his objections actively, you would have the time to think, analyze and find out the reason behind it. A few reason for objections
- Price – They would not want to spend on the product as a few take pride in saving money for the organization.
- Value for Money – Here, the price is not a concern. But, they wanted to ensure that they have got the best of value for the expenses.
- Competitors – They wanted to validate whether you are better from the competitors.
- Fear to adopt or upgrade – They are comfortable with whatever process or tools they have and fear that your service or product may disrupt it.
- Risk to my job – Yes you heard it right. Some fear that they may lose their job if whatever they chose might not work.
And, many more. Readers can share other objection reasons with me.
Empathize alway work
Empathize is a critical skill in customer service. Use it at this critical junction. You are already empathizing with the client by listening to his reasons. Now, repeat what you have understood and make sure you are all on the same page. Put yourself in their place and see how they may feel. Be sincere in your efforts.
You are not alone
Now, comes the action item. Tell your client they are not alone .When you say they are not alone, you let them know that this is something common. By doing so you bring them into a comfortable zone where they open a lot. Indirectly, you have established a social proof that this is common. Also, they know you and your company have already faced such problems and they can expect an answer. The trust is built.
When it comes to product objections, tell them how your clients have found solutions to overcome these exact challenges. Propose the interesting features in your product that matches their needs or check whether a custom solution would work out for them. Try to justify, indirectly, how their features justify the cost. Share customer success stories where their ROI has been justified or how the product complemented the process.
Get prepared for more objections after our response. Try to anticipate those and cover it when you respond. Be genuine and sincere in your efforts. Don’t throw imaginary stats or stories to convince them. Share actual and relevant stories.
To summarize, dont be dismayed by objections.It is an opportunity to show the value of your product or service, and an opportunity to build relationship. Every objection is a positive sign as it your best chance to move and successfully closing the deal.
If you have missed my previous article on objection handling, here is the link
When I started this article on objection handling never did I think it will become a two part series. To make it easier for reading I had to break it down into two. Thanks for understanding.
Objections are inevitable during demos or POC. And, objections are perceived as something difficult to handle. I have seen many Pre Sales or Sales Engineers getting nervous when they face one. But, most objections can be effectively handled by following a simple strategy. A shift in your mindset to acknowledge objections as a positive signal for a sale rather than a threat.
Why are objections raised?
Customer objections arise when they have concerns about the quality of the product, service offered by the business or knowledge of the sales engineer whom they interact with, they love your competitor and price.But, two other major factors stand tall among the rest – The risk involved in the switch and why disturb the existing setup.
What is objection handling?
It is a way to respond and change the mindset of the buyer by addressing their concerns. In the process of changing client mindset, don’t end up arguing that your product or service is the game changer or best among the competitors. That is not objection handling. This will end up proving the client that their stand has been right all along. That results in losing the rapport and sales.
Why is objection handling important?
If not negated in the early stage, the client would be holding onto his strong point. And, as a result you may lose the deal though they would be the right fit. And, in some cases, I have seen sales give a heavy discount to save the deal.
When you are unable to persuade them to choose your service or product,then go ahead and close the file. It looks like they might not be the right fit for you.
Embrace objection handling
Whenever I come across an objection it excites me. It is a positive signal for selling as they have been actively processing the information put across their table. They are much better than prospects who lean on their table, relax and never engage at all.
The tough ones are your opportunity to shine and gain your client’s trust and attention. They are the now who have been weighing the pros and cons. As a result they come up with these objections. The ones that are easy going are never the one we can win.
So, embrace those who object because they are the ones willing to adopt for change if they convinced right.
How to win client? Continue reading here
You are all set to present the features of the product to the prospect with whom you have been working for some time. The stage is set. When the screen lifts, you are taken by surprise when you see many audiences in the show including his/her boss like CEO or VP or CFO. You know your script is not suited for such a global audience.
Panic sets in. Irrespective of the chillness you profuse sweat. You stammer and may not put in the best show. You will have to tailor the demo on the fly. With decision-makers in the call, it is either a make or break deal now.
During the early stage of my career, I have been in this situation a few times and failed to deliver the knock which costed the deal and my time. It caused embarrassment to the person who recommended us and spoilt the relations.
This is not an ideal situation, and you should work to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Why does it happen?
Communication is the key. Sales engineers are sometimes focused too much on technicality and features, they forgot about to whom they are presenting. The next time, before a demo, make sure to communicate thoroughly and clearly with the prospect of sales to find out who will be joining the demo.
Why it matters?
A CFO’s expectation would be completely different from the Manager who attends the presentation. Their expectations are completely different because CFO would be focussed on the cost while managers would be worried on the ease of operations. In simple, every persona will think differently.
Will it save time? Cost? Or, the life of the professionals who will be using it?
These are some questions that pop up in their mind during the demo or presentation. So, it is important to understand the buyer’s perspective before you walk to the stage.
Prepare before the demo.
To deliver an effective demo, know your audience. Communicate with the prospect with whom you interact, and get the details. Many times, your sales would have done the homework for you. Also, do your homework too and find out all you can about your prospects.
I rely on professional platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter to understand more about their roles, specialization, and area of interest. This has helped me to not only connect with the users but most importantly tailor the presentation to them.
This preparation will help show how your product can help each person individually in their role. You can make them visualize the value of your product.
Your script should not be feature-based.
Every product has many features to boast. But, don’t get carried away with features. Prepare your script focussing on 3 or 4 key aspects.
The products is not only for the individuals. It is for the entire business. So, be ready to talk about the ROI. You should show how the business would be benefitted when they chose your product.
Think of the bigger picture and the long term relationship.
Focus on key feature, emphasize on ROI, look at the end goal and long term picture while performing your research on the personas. By doing so, you will be able to nail your demo. Closing the deal will be a cake walk.
Software demo run by sales and presales, sometimes by product managers, decide whether the prospect will continue the journey with us or drop the ball.
When presales give a generic pitch and run the product feature by feature,the game is lost.
Why you need a kickass demo?
In the current market, most of your competing softwares will look the same to the market. At the end of the demo, your presentation will look stale and you will end up being another boring vendor with nothing new to offer.
So, it is important that you got connected with your audience and showed the value they expected at the end of the meeting.
Key ingredients for a successful demo
Your prospects are not connected to your demo’s when it is not scripted and customized. For a demos to be successful, the prospects need to visualize how the product will be used and its effectiveness when put to operations.
In simple, they want to see how the solution would help to solve their challenges.
Discover and Identify the customer expectation
Discovery is fundamental to sales. It helps the team gain insights about the prospects and their challenges.
When discovery is done right, you get to know about the company’s profile, prospect’s role, challenges faced and the implications if not resolved.
Discovery sets the platform to map their journey and present the demo proving it solves the challenges faced by them.
Map out their journey to customize the demo
Many end up doing a common scripted demos or a featured based demo even after the discovery is done. That is a big crime.
The demo is an opportunity for the prospect to see themselves the possible solution. The most effective way to achieve this is to customize the demo as fully as possible.
Show how solutions solve their problem
It is show time. Resist the urge to show them all features. You have taken the effort to customize the demo and let it not go in vain.
Talk about their challenges and drive the demo in such a way that they could see their la-la land. Present the product from their perspective. It should tell the customer’s story.
Show them what the product can accomplish. In simple, they should see the value.
Make it interactive
The average human’s attention span is less than 10 mins and that too only if it is interesting. The further you go into the presentations without getting them involved the less they would pay attention.
So, don’t let your prospect’s to be just the audience. You are talking about their challenges and wishes. Get them involved in the demo.
Make it a two-way interaction. Make sure they experience how it would be they used it.
Get feedback and talk about the next step.
At the end of demo, a sale doesnt happen immediately. That is fine. At the same time,don’t let them slip into the zone “I will get back ”. Be in control.
Ask the prospects about the impression about your product. Check whether the demo helped them to make the next step with you?
Explain the next steps and when you can reconnect(if needed). Set the platform that will help sales in closing.
The best demos are driven by goal. When presented right, it would have convinced that your product is the best and should sign up the same day.
Demos make a difference in the sales cycle as it has a greater impact. it is a powerful playbook for sales.
Use more analogies in demo and presentation. Why? A well-crafted analogy will help convey the value of the solution with ease. It helps the audience remember the ideas that were presented during the demonstration/presentation.
It is vital for a Solution Engineer to resonate with their customer’s requirements and pitch their solution with the help of a story or an analogy.
What is an Analogy?
An analogy is a form of comparison to provide a better explanation for a point. A common analogy everyone recognizes is “Mary had a little lamb. Her fleece was white as snow.”
Why use an Analogy?
During presentations, I have come across many solution engineers explaining features which the potential customers were never able to relate to. They leave confused after listening to the presentation.
Some Engineers improvise by sharing statistics. However, customers tend to forget these stats once the presentation is done. They don’t carry anything useful.
Hence, analogies during a presentation helps your customer remember a story which in this case is the story of your product. The key idea is to present an analogy that fits your story, which the customer understands.
A Few Analogies
Here are a few analogies that I have used based on my current experience in presales.
1.“Forums are like Facebook: Customers can share their views or voice their opinions as a post and viewers can reply to the post as comments. So it is one to many communication channels.”
Everybody knows Facebook. So, it becomes easier and memorable.
2. Channels which users can use to reach support to help solve their queries are like Transport: It facilitates movement from point A to point B via different media. Here the transportation media could be Facebook, Email, Twitter, etc..but the information (issue) should reach you (support staff).
3. Audit logs – The word “audit” means “to hear”, logs means “record of the event”. The audit logs are like the history of events that happen in a day/month/year.
4. SLA – The SLA is like an “alarm clock”, where you can set the deadline. If the time hits, then it will ring so loud.
5. Automators – The automators are like “automatic cars” when you put the key and start the car and the gear is in the drive mode, the car automatically moves. Here, “starting the car with the key” and “having the gear on the drive mode” are rules, which automatically leads onto the car movement.
Since there isn’t a single analogy to fit every situation, the key is to adapt our analogies to fit the scenario in question. And, it’s important to change analogies over time as well.
More on related articles, check this link