One of the Best Sales Questions You Can Encounter During the Sales Process
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago with a prospective client, reviewing options in a sales training proposal. Toward the end of that meeting we discussed what the possible next steps would be in working together.
One of the leaders in the room asked a thoughtful and strategic question: “What sales objections do you think we might hear in the firm and how should we address them?”
This one of the best questions you can encounter during the sales process. It shows the client actively thinking how we can work together to bring our sales training solution to their firm. It shows collaboration and a forward-thinking mindset. That leader wants to make sure they have what they need should they encounter concerns in other business segments.
What’s Really Behind that Client Sales Objection?
There are typically a few key mindsets behind a client’s objection and any sales training solution should include how to identify and solve for them:
- Fees/Price. This is typically where a client will start when they aren’t seeing enough value in the possibility of working together, or they may be comparing you to a competitor.
- Stakeholder involvement and needing others to be part of the input and decision process. Decision by committee is becoming more common, and especially with complex sales opportunities and matrixed organizations.
- Reprioritization. Today’s priority can become overshadowed by tomorrow’s challenge, and this gives you an important view into how the client thinks and makes decisions.
- Status quo. Modern sales professionals are change agents; with change comes our human nature to revert to a potential non-decision.
How Can You Reframe Your Objection-Handling Mindset?
I’m not a fan of the phrase “overcoming objections” because modern selling isn’t a zero-sum game. My highest-value client relationships come from the belief that we’re sitting on the same side of the table and looking toward the future.
Modern sellers don’t view handling objections or the negotiation process as a win-loss. It’s our role to interpret what the client is sharing with us and help them come to decision on solving that objection.
What’s the worst reaction you can have to a sales objection? It’s a defensive posture and allowing tension to override the goal of solving the issue. Playing sales defense versus playing sales offense ultimately puts the client on the defensive; it can erode trust and their goodwill in working toward a mutually benefit outcomes.
“No” Often Means “Not Right Now”
I was working with a prospective client on a sales training program for their firm, and during our negotiations they encountered several significant industry changes that ultimately impacted their strategic priorities. In a word, sales training was reprioritized. In that moment I had two choices: I could push them to stay on track with the sales training solution, or I could redirect the sales conversation to look toward the future. Sales defense or sales offense.
I chose sales offense because it looks to the future. I clearly wasn’t going to change their mind in that moment and to push would’ve likely pushed them away. Was my sales opportunity going to slip by two or more quarters? Yes, it was. (This is where your sales prospecting and sales qualifying efforts show their value.) But the risk otherwise would’ve been to lose the sales opportunity entirely by attempting to push them toward a different outcome.
In this sales scenario, “no” meant “not right now.” By taking a future-focused approach to that sales objection, I created a winning sales outcome and client outcome. The contract was still agreed to, but implementation was slated to begin at a future date.
What are Strategic Sales Questions to Master?
Identifying and handling sales objections will occur all throughout your sales process. In your sales training programs, you’ll want to train your sales professionals to identify potential challenges at each stage of your sales process. You might even have a sales process milestone as part of your overall sales strategy.
To assist with building this sales skill, below are several strategic sales questions to incorporate into your process. This topic is also covered in more depth in my Strategic Selling Academy.
- Can you walk me through your decision-making process?
- What events might impact your decision timelines?
- What is your most important decision-making criteria?
- What are the top questions I most need to address?
- Who can help us solve for this concern?
- What will tell us we’ve answered the concern?
Your Sales Training Solutions Need to Include Strategic Objection Handling
To significantly improve the outcomes of sales training or other elements of your sales strategy, let’s schedule a conversation. Don’t let your competition get an advantage.