At the beginning of all my sales training workshops, I ask each participant to list their top three skill area they would like to improve by the end of the session. Consistently, 'dealing with objections' ranks among the top three in more than 40% of the responses. The thing about sales objections is that, it always comes up in every sales conversation, but isn't it ironic that it remains one of the major challenges of your salespeople?
So I was super excited when I encountered this talented, street vendor of 100% pure honey in the countryside of my beloved Ghana, who dealt with objections of four prospects effectively and subsequently closed 2 opportunities out of 4 (i.e. 50% closing ratio).
I was with three friends attending a funeral service held on a park in Kpandu in the Volta Region of Ghana. At the sidelines, Prince (real name of the vendor) approached us to purchase some of his recently harvested 100% pure wild honey. Given the high incidence of fake or adulterated honey on the market, each of us raised a number of what is known as ‘feasibility objections’ - meaning we had our doubts about the claim of 100% purity of the honey being offered to us.
How the honey seller handled the objections
As a sales trainer, I was impressed with Prince’s ability to deal with the objections raised. Here's the way he approached it:
1. Thickness: I didn’t know, but apparently pure honey is thick and takes a long time to pour out of the container or move from one side to the other. Prince, the honey vendor demonstrated how his honey passes the thickness test. According to him, fake honey is very lightish and moves really quickly inside the container. He was keen in demonstrating that to us by shaking a bottle of honey he carried.
2. Absorption Test: Not convinced, we raised another objection related to the possible adulteration of the honey with sugar. Once again, Prince the honey vendor was ready and responded to the objection by demonstrating what is known as the absorption test. He demonstrated the absorption test by dropping a small amount of the honey on the sand whilst educating us that pure honey does not get absorbed, whereas fake honey adulterated with sugar does. After more than 5 minutes of waiting, the drop of honey was not absorbed by the sand.
3. Flame Test: Still skeptical, one of my friends mentioned that he had read some literature suggesting that a simple way of testing for pure honey was to perform a flame test, and concluded that if we had a matchstick we could have tried that technique as well. Before completing his statement, Prince the honey vendor reached into his pocket and produced a pack of matchsticks. He immersed a matchstick in the honey and lit it easily with no difficulty. Had it been fake honey, according to him, the matchstick would not have lit easily because of the presence of moisture.
4. Honey Bottle: The only objection Prince the honey vendor couldn't deal with was the quality and safety of bottle in which he sold the honey. He was truthful to us informing us that he had limited access to packaging options in such a remote area of the country. That didn’t deter us from buy Prince’s honey since he had successfully dealt with the objections which aligned with our dominant buying motives for wanting to buy honey. The bottle wasn’t a dominant motive hence the solution was to buy the honey in our own emptied plastic bottled-water containers we had in our cars.
Based on the lessons learnt from Prince the street honey vendor, here are three things sales managers should work on with their salespeople regarding how to deal with objections:
1. Identify Sales Objections: Work with your salespeople to identify and list all the types of objections related to your products and industry. It will also be helpful to anticipate any other types of objections which might come up in sales conversations in future conversations as buyer’s needs and wants evolve in a rapidly changing world. This is the first step in your salespeople's ability to deal with objections.
2. Develop Responses to Objections: This point sounds like a simple and straightforward action to take. However, it is one area where many sales organizations are failing at, hence salespeople always mentioning objections handling as one of their major challenges. So for Sales Managers, develop a bank of possible responses to each of the objections identified for your salespeople. Once that is done, train, coach and get them to practice them consistently on how to deal with objections. This will build their self-confidence when that "dreaded" moment of the sales conversation comes. In the case of Prince the street honey vendor, because he understood all the objections, he was prepared for all of them, and responded to them effectively.
3. Develop a System for Dealing with Objections Identified: This includes the 'when' and the 'how' to do it, as well as what to say. In the case of the street honey vendor, he understood the various objections and started dealing with them from the more obvious ones to the more technical ones. He knew when and how to demonstrate the quality of his honey, in a systematic manner.
Sales objections become much easier to deal with if salespeople firstly identify and list them; secondly develop responses for each and practice dealing with them relentlessly; and thirdly design a system in handling them. Once prospects and customers appreciate the benefits of our products and services because salespeople have demonstrated competence at dealing with the objections, any minor ones hardly stop the sales. Rather prospects and customers will work with your salespeople to minimize that minor objection’s impact on achieving their goals for purchasing.
Wish you Happy Selling.
If you want to train and coach your salespeople on how to deal with objections, or develop a system to deal with objections, contact me today: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com