Few things strike fear into the hearts of proposal writers like the anticipation of client objections once you’ve submitted a proposal.
You’ve worked hard to make sure your proposal is chock full of the requisite information and compelling reasons why yours is the business to pick for the project. Yet, it never fails that objections come out of (seemingly) nowhere – often, catching you unaware of exactly how to respond.
There’s no one way to consistently head off client objections before they happen, but there are some key steps you can take to respond to the most common objections with a healthy dollop of confidence – and a touch of savvy salesmanship.
Yesterday, we began our two-part series on how to Address Client Objections Within Your Proposal, and now we continue to teach you how to knock those objections out. Let’s have a look at what it takes to smash right through those objections like the Incredible Hulk through a brick wall, with five simple steps!
What are some of the most common client objections?
Before we delve into the steps involved in overcoming an objection, let’s have a look at some common concerns that customers express:
- “We can get it done cheaper with someone else.”
- “We have an established relationship with another company, and we would like to stay with them.”
- “We have tried your company in the past, but didn’t like the result.”
A great many variations on issues like these exist. While you cannot possibly use a boilerplate response to any one of these, you can apply a series of steps to address concerns like these and any other, too.
Let’s move on to those five steps that can help you overcome objections and bring the proposal process back on track to getting signed.
When you receive a client objection in response to a particular aspect of your proposal, whatever the concern may be, the first thing to do is to listen intently. Hear them out, because you do not want to seem aggressively dismissive of their issue.
Careful listening is also the best way to tailor an appropriate response to their concern. By voicing that concern to you, they are most likely not looking to avoid doing business with you; they are more likely to be looking for an answer that they couldn’t find in your proposal. Listen carefully and respond with open-ended questions as needed to gain additional insight into the customer’s concern.
Step Two: Determine if the objection is real
There are actually two types of objections: real ones and false ones.
“I have a friend who has been performing this service for my company for years.”
You can immediately gauge whether this is a real objection, simply saying:
“Would you consider an alternative that will offer improved results?”
If the customer says “no,” the objection is false, and the customer is not likely to be swayed. In this situation, the best advice is to move on to the next prospect – there’s no point expending effort on immovable mountains.
On the other hand, if your customer is willing to hear your question, you are set to engage in a discussion of the strengths of your plan as an alternative. Dialogue is good, and any time you can urge it on, you can uncover an avenue to smash an objection.
Step Three: Acknowledge and address the objection directly
No matter what the objection is, as long as it’s not false, it’s clearly of importance to your customer, and it thusly deserves your attention. You can acknowledge the concern by recapping it, as follows:
“So, let me see if I understand this correctly…”
Then simply explain the concern as you understand it, repeating back to them what they said. This will validate the customer’s effort in broaching the issue to begin with and will let them know that you are serious about coming to an agreement.
If, for example, the concern is that the customer has done business with your company before and was not satisfied by the results, you probably knew that at the outset of the proposal process.
You have most likely learned from the mistakes of the past and have put in place policies and personnel that make sure those kinds of mistakes do not happen anymore. Your CRM tool probably has a record of the whole ugly ordeal – which you should have probably examined in the research that led up to creating the final draft of the proposal. Only by addressing the concern directly can you come to the heart of the matter and support the claims you made in the initial proposal, proving to the prospective customer that all is in order, and you’re ready to take on their business again.
Step Four: Focus on them
The customer’s concerns will almost always make you feel at least slightly defensive. The challenge in your response to true objections is to remain focused on the customer. After all, they are really only concerned with how the actions you have proposed will benefit their business.
As we’ve covered in the past, customer focus is crucial to all aspects of the proposal process, including the parts after the proposal is submitted. Relate your response to an objection to the customer and their goals – which you have gained an insight into by listening in Step One.
If, for example, your customer says:
“We can get the same work done by someone else for less money.”
Because you’ve listened, heard them out, and determined who that other company is, you are able to fall back on the competitive analysis performed in the proposal creation process. You may very well know that said company is not able to provide the same level of quality as your company can. This is the perfect time to clarify the value of choosing your business over the competition because your prospective client will appreciate receiving higher quality service, over second-rate work. Simply explain to them that you charge a price that relates to the time and effort invested in achieving awesome results. Feel free to offer up references and other social proof to back it up. If their appreciation of quality is aligned to your yours, they’ll appreciate you as being the right company to choose.
Step Five: Use proposal software to your advantage
The truth is that many objections stem from lack of understanding on the part of the customer. Very often, you have already addressed a particular point of concern within the initial proposal, but the recipient has simply not read it all or did not understand it.
The only way to know if this is the case is to use Quote Roller to gain an insight into what the prospective client has read in your proposal, and where they left off. The in-proposal analytics within the app give you an advantage (a peek inside your customer’s head, really) that you otherwise would not have. Sometimes they are spending a ridiculous amount of time on one section because they are confused by it or want to change something in it, but they haven’t admitted that to you. Be clever and ask them about it.
You don’t need to beat your head against the wall trying to explain a point that has already been covered in your proposal in response to an objection. If such is the case, you can simply reiterate the unread content to clarify the issue. Whenever possible, physically point out what they looked over, even sending them a screenshot of that section.
Since most people spend more time focusing on pricing than any other part of your proposal, if the objection is unrelated to price, the best place to start formulating a response is the proposal itself. Chances are, you have the opportunity to support and reinforce the content of your proposal to eliminate the objection. Of course, in-proposal analytics like with Quote Roller can make this happen with real-time reporting and detailed analytics after the proposal has been submitted, so that your response to objections is always spot on!
Smash objections up like the Hulk!
Don’t get mad about objections and assume a defensive position – get smart. You can bash through objections just like the Incredible Hulk without all the gamma radiation and turning green. Listen, learn, and use your best salesmanship – as well as the ever-helpful Quote Roller app – to keep the proposal process rolling even after you’ve been hit with an objection.
Are you able to recover from objections with superhero ease? What tricks do you use?
Photos are courtesy of “Unsung Heroes” Webseries: Check em out!