It’s the natural, predictable step along the way to a sale. You have met with the right people, helped them achieve a degree of comfort with you, uncovered the opportunity, presented your solution and asked for their commitment. But wait, they are hesitating! Is something wrong? Should you immediately transform into “pushy sales person” mode and try to bully your way to a sale? Or, should you help them share their concerns with you?
It is rare that you have perfectly understood every aspect of what they want, and that you have presented the absolutely perfect solution that addresses every possible issue they have. More frequently, you are a little off, and there are issues on their side of which you are not aware. It’s only natural that the customer has some “concerns.”
“Concerns” are issues that make them hesitant to go along with your offer. They are frequently internal issues that have nothing to do with you or your offer. For example, you may have just proposed a new phone system, and they have concerns about what impact that will have on their receptionist, who is two years away from retiring. Notice that the issue has nothing to do with you, but it is something they have to resolve in order to go ahead with the deal.
In this case, there may be little you can do other than empathize and offer some suggestions. In many cases, however, once you know what their concerns are, you can do something about them.
“Resolving their concerns” then, becomes a higher-order sales skill – one of the best practices that separate the superstars from their average colleagues. Before you can help them “resolve their concerns” however, you must learn what they are, and it is here that many sales people stumble.
The world is full of sales people who are hesitant to hear the customer’s concerns, afraid they will take the form of the more commonly used term – objections – and put a potential conflict into the relationship. Afraid to hear anything negative, they don’t encourage any sharing of this critical information.
The best sales people, however, have a different mindset toward this issue. They understand that, almost inevitably, the customer has some concerns that have yet to be expressed. It’s the natural progression of things. And, before the sales person can impact those concerns, he/she has to become aware of them. So, they look forward to the customer expressing those concerns. More than that, they pro-actively probe for them, and encourage the customer to share them. A concern expressed is a concern that the sales person may be able to help resolve.
This often takes the form of asking good, open-ended, non-threatening questions. However, prior to asking the customer to voice his concerns, the sales person must have helped the customer develop a level of trust and comfort with the sales person such that it makes answering the question a natural, easy, comfortable thing to do.
And that means that the superstar sales people have created a deep level of rapport with the customer and have shown themselves to be competent, confident and concerned.
In other words, before you can become excellent at this best practice, you must learn to excel at the other basics of good salesmanship. This is a higher-order sales skill. The best sales people do it well. That’s why they are the best.
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