by: Neil Rackham
Neil Rackham is a best selling author. You can read more about him at his website linked to his name.
Rackham pointas out the following about Objection Handling:
- Objection Handling is a much less important skill than most training makes it out to be.
- Objections, contrary to common belief, are more often created by the seller than the customer.
- In the average sales team, there’s usually one salesperson who receives 10 times as many objections per selling hour as another person in the same team.
- Skilled people receive fewer objections because they have learned objection prevention, not objection handling.
Linda Marsh carried out some correlation studies to check whether there are statistically significant links between Features, Advantages, and Benefits and the most probable responses they produce from customers. She discovered that Features, Advantages, and Benefits each produce a different behavioral response from customers.
Features and Price Concerns
Customers are most likely to raise price concerns in calls where the seller gives lots of Features.
Too Many Features: A Case Study
Rackham highlights a study in which Huthwaite was recruited to help a major U.S. based multinational corporation solve a problem. Their Japanese competition had been taking more and more of the market share especially on their low-end product line.
Rackham showed the V.P. of Sales how to treat the cause of their problem. They retrained the salespeople, recruited from the competition, in SPIN questioning techniques so that they could use a high-Benefits style. As a result, their sales increased, price objections dropped, and the price issues were soon forgotten.
Treating Symptoms or Treating Causes?
Curing a selling problem, just like curing a disease, rests on finding and treating the cause rather than the symptoms.
If the customer’s price concern is the symptom, the cause may very well be giving too many Features.
Advantages and Objections
Perhaps the most fascinating of the links that Linda Marsh found is the strong relationship between Advantages and objections. Advantages create objections–and this is one reason why they are poorly linked to success in the larger sale.
From Huthwaite’s research, objections are a more likely response than any other buyer behavior when given an Advantage.
The recurring sequence of behaviors found in this research was:
Problem Question / Implied Need / objection
The buyer objected to the cost because the seller did not build up the problem enough to tip the cost/value scale.
Back to Symptoms and Causes
If a saleperson is receiving too many objections, you could teach objection-handling. However, the better alternative would be to teach her how to build sufficient value before offering solutions. This is the cause. Obections are the symptom.
Through implementation of the Spin model, sellers can use Implication and Need-payoff Questions to build value before presenting a solution. This prevent objections. Objection prevention turns out to be a superior strategy to objection handling.
Objection Prevention: A Case Study
Rackham highlights a study in which Huthwaite trained a portion of a company’s sale staff in objection prevention. The study brought Rackham to two conclusions:
- It confirms that the best way to handle objections is through prevention. Treat the cause, not the symptom.
- Notice that our training didn’t prevent objections completely.
There will always be ligitimate objections, no objection prevention can prevent them. However, objections can be cut by more than half by using the SPIN behaviors to build value.
The Sales-Training Approach to Objections
It’s a comforting myth for trainers to tell inexperienced salespeople that professionals welcome objections as a sign of customer interest, but in reality an objection is a barrier between you and your customer. However skillfully you dismantle this barrier through objection handling, it would be smarter not to have created it in the first place.
Benefits and Support/Approval
Linda Marsh’ study found that the most positive relationship to emerge was the strong link between giving Benefits and receiving expressions of approval or support from customers. Unless the customer says, “I want it”, you can’t give a Benefit. It is no wonder that customers are most likely to express approval when you show them you can give them something they want.
Objection Handling versus Objection Prevention
The basic suggestion in this chapter is that objection-handling strategies are much less successful in the larger sale than objection-prevention strategies, where the seller first develops value using Implication and Need-payoff Questions before offering capabilities.
Preventing Objections from Your Customers
Here is two sure signs that you are getting unnecessary objections that can be prevented by better questioning:
- Objections early in the call. Most objections are to solutions that don’t fit needs. If you are getting objections early in the call, it probably means you have been offering solutions prematurely instead of asking questions. There’s an easy cure: Don’t talk about solutions until you’ve asked enough questions to develop strong needs.
- Objections about value. If the customer expresses that they don’t think your product or service is worth the money or effort, it’s a good sign that you haven’t built enough value. The solution lies in better needs development, not in objection handling.
Remember- The work you’ve just read is Neil Rackham’s. I have simply outlined his book. Most of the words above are his own. At times I paraphrased.
Until next time…
a Student of Sales