Sell like a pro
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
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Before we get to today's question: This is a continuation of the zero or minimal budget tips of getting more clients. Please click here if you missed the first blog in the ‘tips’ series.
I have just stumbled on your service. I have realised that you operate in SA and The Netherlands. I hope you can help me because I am in Sussex in England. How can I convince people who say that my services are too expensive? Although I know that my price is not too high, most of the time I lose the argument. Regards, Milton (not his real name and he did not mention what services he offers)
Thank you for your question and for raising some important points.
Area of operation
I lived in SA and now live in The Netherlands but my area of operation is not related to where I live because I operate online. I operate anywhere in the global village where there are people who understand the languages that I speak which are South African languages and Dutch. English is one of the SA languages so you might as well be up the street from me.
Stumbling on services
As a marketer, if you do your job right then people who do not know you think they just ‘stumbled’ on your services or blog or website or YouTube channel. The fact is, your coming across this service is not by accident but by design. I have already touched on the fact that if you work in English you have a huge advantage because there are so many English speaking people in the world. As I suggested above, please go through the blogs you have missed.
Let’s get to your question. You say that you find it difficult to win arguments. I’m glad you find that difficult because you should not be arguing in the first place. There is a name for what these people do. It’s called an objection. There are different ways of dealing with objections and an argument is definitely not one of them.
Dealing effectively with objections
Sales was the number one entrepreneurial skill in the past, it is the number one entrepreneurial skill now and no matter how digitalised and Uberised the world becomes, sales will remain the number one skill.
No matter how good your products/services are, if they stay on the shelf you do not have a successful business. Today I will look at general principles and then zoom in on the objection that you have raised - price. As the series continues I will touch on other common objections. The basic principles that apply to the price objection applies to the rest of the objections, the difference is in the detail but you first need to understand the basics.
What we think objections are
As entrepreneurs we often think that objections are a nuisance. We want to hear yes yes yes all the time which means a conversion rate of 100%. A conversion rate is the rate at which prospects (people who get your message) get converted to buyers. A 100% conversion rate is an unrealistic expectation. The problem is that we listen to those who tell us that nothing is impossible. I just tell them to drive into a concrete wall or jump off the top of a cliff and live to tell the tale.
When people state their objections you should be grateful just like you should be grateful when your clients complain. Their input helps you to improve and prepare your future communication. Preparation helps you to pre-empt objections and deal with them before they are raised and also having a good response should a prospect raise the objection before you raise it.
Sometimes, an objection is an excuse to delay a buying decision. Please don’t listen to anyone who tells you that this is always the case. I say sometimes because sometimes prospects simply do not need our products. No matter how good a salesman is I will not buy a Rolex watch - not only because it is expensive but mainly because I do not need it since I do not have the need to show off how much money I have or how much money I want people to think I have. However, as an entrepreneur I had the need to reach more clients and when I came across someone who offered software that does exactly that I was interested.
When you sell something that you know people need and they say it is expensive then you should know that it's either they are broke and cannot afford what they need or they are just delaying the buying decision. There are many reasons for trying to delay a buying decision. One of them is neurodiversity.
There are obvious differences between people like demographical differences. There are, however, other significant differences which are not obvious because that is the stuff under the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Neurodiversity is one of those differences. It's the way we are wired up differently. There are people who get energy from dealing with people meanwhile some prefer dealing with facts, with machines, with future scenarios, a structured environment etc. Some plan a 2- week holiday for six months while others decide on the spur of the moment. The ones who take 6 months to decide on a holiday need time to make buying decisions and the ones who decide on the spur on the moment are impulsive buyers so you should not expect everyone to always make quick decisions. Sometimes the people who need time to make buying decisions state their objections clearly but, like everyone else, they sometimes raise other objections and one of them may be price. For more on neurodiversity please click on www.breinvoorkeuren.nl and click on English.
Handling objections effectively
Keeping all these factors in mind, let’s look at what you should do when cost is just an objection in the sense of an excuse to delaying the buying process. Always keep in mind that business is about finding out what the client’s need is and satisfying it. Since you are not a mind-reader, the way to find out what clients need is to listen.
Clients do not always articulate their main reason for not buying. They may mention price just to get rid of you meanwhile the main reason is that they need time or they want to compare or you have not demonstrated that the value of your offer matches the price. Active listening means listening to understand and not listening to reply. If you care to listen you will find out what the real issues are and address them.
Ask the right questions
If you ask open-ended questions and listen you will soon find out what the prospect’s needs are and find a way of satisfying them. However, sometimes the client has a need that your products/services simply cannot satisfy and that is the time to lose the sale and win goodwill. Honestly tell the person that you do not have a solution for his/her problem and if possible suggest a solution that has nothing to do with you. You will lose one sale but gain many. After that exchange the prospects will gladly listen when you explain what kind of problems you actually solve. In future when they have the need that you satisfy they are likely to turn to you more than the person who steamrolled them into a sale and most importantly, become your best ambassador. You can only achieve this if your focus is to meet needs and earn money in the process and not making money and sometimes just happening to satisfy a need or two. The latter is a short-sighted approach that does not help you to build a sustainable business and a solid reputation. Unfortunately, some of the advice on handling objections amounts to steamrolling.
If the real issue is price, then it means it’s either:
1. You may have priced yourself out of the market
This does not mean that you should lower your price just because some people are broke. If almost no one is willing to pay your price in spite of doing everything else right, it may be time you reconsidered your pricing strategy.
2. You may be targeting the wrong people. You may be like the Rolex salesman who is trying to sell to someone like me or to a young person. The young generation generally have no interest in single function gadgets like wrist watches.
3. You may have failed to communicate the real value of what you offer and differentiated yourself from those who offer lesser services so your prospect is comparing pears with apples. In that case state the benefits of your products/ services clearly without criticising your competitors. A money objection is a comparison objection. It’s either they are: 1. Comparing you offering with the offerings of your competitors or 2. Comparing your offering to your price. Here are two examples of how I handle such comparison situations.
I am a master practitioner of a profiling method that helps people to understand their own preferences and preferences of others. For some weird reason many people find it necessary to ask me if the method is better than other methods that they know. They never raise the price issue because our competitors charge more.
I do not say “Our method is better”. I just say “if personality types is what you are looking for then you can go ahead and use that one or if a strength-finder is what you want by all means use that one but if what you want to achieve as an entrepreneur is to understand your own selling style and the buying behaviours of different people, this is how our method helps you to achieve that…” In the case of a team leader, “… go ahead and use that one but if placing the right person in a job and appropriate task allocation and helping your team to gel and having the right approach to your internal and external customers is important to you, this is how our method helps you to achieve that and more.” I have a ready answer for coaches, trainer, salespeople, mediators and all professionals who work with people. That is what I mean by preparation. You should not be taken by surprise. It is important to note that this will only work for you if you never lie about what you offer.
I found the marketing software that I use to be so amazing that I started promoting it. It offers literally everything an entrepreneur needs to reach customers. Some prospects compare the price of this software with the cost of software that offers only one or a few of the aspects.
“Using xyz software is not very wise because you still pay for this that and the other separately and the different components may not always work together. Our product is better because you get this plus this plus this plus that and it works out less expensive than what you pay for putting the different elements together” Although this statement is true, it is not the smartest thing for me to say. I ask one by one which components the person needs and write down the cost of each component while explaining the difference between our software and what he/she is comparing it with. Then when I add it all up the person realises that the other option is more expensive then I state the fact that our software is much more user-friendly and that since everything is in one package smooth integration is guaranteed. I do not have to convince the person because the facts speak for themselves.
If after seeing the benefits of guaranteed smooth integration, ease of use and price advantage the person still does not buy then it is because he/she is broke or not very smart and there is absolutely nothing any salesman can do to change that.
I hope that these examples have given you an idea of how you can go about handling some objections effectively. Preparation is key.
To sum up:
See objections as opportunities to engage the prospect meaningfully;
Do not argue or let them feel that you are trying to convince them;
If they compare you with their competitors show the benefits of what you offer without being critical of anyone else even when you know that your competitors suck;
Be proactive – bring up common objections before they get raised by the prospect (Always start with a positive spin - do not say I hear this objection a lot, say I get this question a lot);
Prepare answers for situations where the prospects raise them before you do (positive spin like “I find it interesting that you say that…”);
Ask open-ended questions;
Listen, listen, listen;
Help the prospect to see that the value that you offer matches the price;
When you lose a sale, win the relationship.
Handling objections effectively will help you to increase your conversion rate remarkably but as I have already said above, a 100% conversion rate is not difficult – it is simply impossible.
1. Unlearn the arguing habit.
2. Get into the habit of writing down objectives.
2. Find a way of raising the objections before they get raised by the prospect.
3. Prepare appropriate responses.
4. Go through this free series from the beginning and stay tuned in for more tips.
5. Spread the word about this free service by word of mouth and by word of mouse.
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Till next week
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Makheni Zonneveld has extensive experience in helping organisations, teams, individuals and entrepreneurs with real transformation. She employs these communications tools: Online and face2face coaching, speaking, training, storytelling and writing.
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