Handling Sales Objections with “Yes and…” Instead Of “Yes but…”

describe the imageHow often do you respond to a prospect’s objection with “Yes, but…” and turn an intelligent conversation into a defensive debate? 

Prospect:  “We’re not sure your software will scale to our needs.”

Salesperson: “Yes, but didn’t you read the report we provided?”

Immediately the prospect is put on the defensive.  What happens to the tone of the conversation if you replace “Yes, but…” with “Yes and…” instead?

Prospect:  “We’re not sure your software will scale to our needs.”

Salesperson:  “Yes and that’s a valid concern.  Would it be helpful to look at some data that would allow us take a closer look at this issue?”

Replacing one little word can make all the difference.  By saying “Yes and…” instead of “Yes, but…” you come around to the prospect’s side of the table and you are working with them instead of against them.  This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we see this scenario comes up when we work with sales organizations. 

Salespeople with a high need for approval, difficulty controlling their emotions, or have a tendency to present features and benefits rather than ask questions that uncover problems and help them understand how and why a prospect will buy are particularly vulnerable.  So the next time you get a tough sales objection from a challenging prospect, remember to say “Yes and…” to keep the conversation going in a positive direction.

Five Rules for Effective Sales Role Play

Role Play, sales improvement, practice, sales meetings, five tips for sales role play, Mike Carroll, Intelligent Conversations, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, management consulting, growth consultant, sales training, Dave Kurlan blog, Objective Management Group partner"Make Your Sales Managers Great Sales Coaches"

Dave Kurlan wrote another gem this week in his recent article “Sales Coaching is Like Baseball – How Do You Rate?”  While Dave makes several great points, there’s one I want to highlight that we see sales managers struggle with on a regular basis – the effective use of role play.

To be an effective sales coach your sales manager must be able to demonstrate the proper way to handle all of the sales situations their team encounters.  If there’s a tough competitor in your market working one of your weak spots or trying to reframe the conversation to their advantage, your sales people need to know the:

  • Questions to ask,
  • Statements to make,
  • Phrases to use,
  • Softening tactics that gently steer the conversation back on track, and
  • Right tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language to do all of this.

The same thing applies to overcoming objections, handling price discussions, uncovering compelling reasons, qualifying the decision process or budget, and all of the other milestones they must reach over the course of an intelligent sales conversation.

So what are the key elements to effective role play?  In addition to what Dave writes about we offer the following list – our Five Rules for Effective Sales Role Play:

1) Sales Process Map; the first step sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many sales organizations miss it.  To be an effective sales coach who can demonstrate the right behaviors through on-the-spot role play, it’s eminently helpful to have a well defined Sales Process Map outlining the key milestones and how to hit them over the course of the sales conversation.

2) Ditch the Map; while mapping out a general framework for your sales process is a great first step, understand that an actual sales conversation almost never happens as planned.  A sales process map will give you the general direction to go and areas to cover, but you’ll need to be agile enough to adjust and adapt once you are in a real sales conversation.

3) On-the-Spot Role Play; your sales managers may be uncomfortable doing this (at first), but nothing earns credibility and changes sales behavior faster than effective on-the-spot role play.  Whether it happens in the middle of a sales meeting or during a one-on-one, going into role play “on-the-spot” to demonstrate the right sales behavior makes everyone step up their game.

4) Sales Person as Prospect; the toughest prospect you will ever meet is a sales person who has been beat up a lot by prospects over the past week.  When they get an opportunity to “be the prospect” they get to amalgamate all of the objections, tough questions, and difficult behaviors they’ve experienced from prospects over the past few days.  For a sales person this is extremely fun (and therapeutic).  For a sales manager it provides great insight into the types of issues their team is encountering in the field (and it also gives them insight into how busy people are – if a sales person can’t role play as the prospect effectively they’re probably not in as many sales conversations as they’re reporting).

5) Do It and Then Do It Some More; the easiest and most effective way to get better at sales is to get into more sales conversations.  And while nothing can replace the experience gained during live sales calls, frequent role play between sales manager and sales person provides a great way to have those conversations in a constructive environment.  The more your sales managers do this the better they’ll get at it. 

Have your sales managers follow these Five Rules for Effective Sales Role Play and you will start to see your sales team having better conversations, with better prospects, selling larger opportunities at higher margins and creating stronger top line growth for your company – and isn’t that what you want from your sales department?

Need help?  Contact me for a cup of coffee and together we will figure out if it makes sense to work together to help your sales team achieve more. Not sure where to set expectations? Download our CEO Sales Expectations worksheet and we can review it together.

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Be Grateful for Tough Objections

My youngest daughter is learning how to read and everything clicked this week. It's really gratifying to see her reading increasingly challenging books with greater comfort and ease. Over the past few weeks I've sat with her as she struggled to make sense of which letters (or combinations of letters) make which sounds. And how certain sounds combined to make words and how words combine to make sentences. As she'd sound out challenging words I'd offer helpful hints like "you're getting warmer....nope, now you're getting colder....try again, what sound does T make...that's right, now put it together...."

How do you view the objections you get from prospective clients? How do you feel when you get a really tough objection? Do you get mad? Frustrated? Impatient? Angry? Irritated? What goes through your mind when you encounter severe price resistance? Does it make sense?

Instead of getting frustrated or losing your composure, what would happen if you were truly grateful for the helpful clues your prospect is giving you? Why not view their objections as an opportunity to discover whether you're "getting warmer" or if you're "getting colder?" Can you use the valuable information they are giving you to understand the underlying context and make sense of what their objections really mean? Can you piece it all together like words combine to make a sentence?

We often lead our clients through an exercise where we have their sales people start tracking their most common objections and interruptions. As the sales team begins sharing this information, we find there are typically about eight to ten (8-10) primary objections they might encounter. We then have them brainstorm five (5) different responses or follow up questions to ask for each issue raised. All of this information goes into a grid they can keep handy and review as needed.

Knowing how they are going to respond in advance helps these sales people stay present, focused and "in the moment" when a prospect raises an objection or asks a tough question. And staying in the moment allows them to really listen - not just to the objection, but to the issues that are driving the objection in the first place. Being equipped with the knowledge required to meet the initial objection enables them to ask the key follow up questions that drill down to the important issues. It often takes three or four (3-4) follow up questions to really get to the heart of the matter.

Have you documented your most common objections and prepared multiple responses to each? If you're a sales manager, can you run this exercise at your next team meeting? What would happen to your sales productivity if you shifted the way you view objections? How much would your income increase if you saw objections as helpful hints that will lead you to the sale rather than frustrating delays you need to overcome? What can you do this week to begin to change your attitude toward objections?

Are you committed to sales success?

Sales success is something every sales person is striving for. But in an environment where the resistance to buy is higher, decisions take longer, and the competition is fierce, the goal of achieving sales success can be elusive - which can lead even the most level-headed sales person to reach for ideas, tactics and techniques that will not serve them.

There is a tremendous amount of sales training material available. If you are the type of person who believes in continuous learning and are always looking for ways to improve your skills or gain an edge, you've probably already purchased many of these books, tapes, DVDs and other programs. Have you ever purchased a sales program that sounded great when you bought it but once you received it you discovered you are not able to implement the ideas and tactics it recommended?

Before you spend another penny on a sales training program (whether it's your money or your company's money), make sure it is based on these four principles that will provide an infallible road to your professional development and sales success.

Know your strengths. If you're serious about improving as a sales professional, it pays to have a detailed understanding of your strengths and the skills you've developed. Many sales training programs take a "one-size-fits-all" approach. What would happen to your results if the program you used was designed to help you build on your strengths (rather than just assume everyone is starting at the same place)?

Understand your weaknesses. Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at. What weaknesses are holding you back? More importantly, do you have any hidden weaknesses that can neutralize your strengths? Do these weaknesses get in the way when you try new sales moves or tactics? What would happen to your results if you could have a sales training program tailored to help you address your specific weaknesses?

Blended learning delivers better results. Getting new information into your brain multiple ways will help you increase results. Repetition is critical to learning and it is even more powerful when you receive the same information in a visual setting, reinforced with audio, and then reinforced again with live learning. What would happen to your results if you had access to a training program designed to deliver information in a blended learning environment?

Ownership. Nobody else is responsible for the results you produce. It's up to you and only you. The decisions you make today will have a profound impact on the results you produce tomorrow. Are you doing everything you can to improve your skills and upgrade your sales knowledge? Do you want to improve your results and are you willing to do whatever it takes to get better? What would happen to your sales results if you really took ownership of your destiny and made the commitment to build on your strengths and address your weaknesses once and for all?

Now that you know these four bedrock principles, take ownership of them and apply them when you make the decision to be committed to sales success.