This is the second in a six- or seven-part series (maybe more if I come up with a bunch of great ideas) on overcoming sales objections. But before I start in on today’s post, I want to be sure you know what objections are.
Basically, every sale has two major components. The first part lets prospects know what you have to offer, and on what terms. The second part addresses the reasons your prospects don’t want to take you up on it.
If you’re selling face to face, you can deal with these as they come up. But when you’re marketing online or with direct mail, you have to blast through objections another way.
This series will walk you through the overarching objections that just about every client has, as well as giving you some techniques for dealing with objections that might be specific to your product or service.
What’s Keeping Your Customers from Buying?
It’s very helpful, before you try to answer this question, if you have an extremely solid idea of who your ideal customer is. Don’t bother trying to sell to not-ideal customers, they’ll waste your time and keep you from optimizing your business for the folks who really matter.
With an ideal customer in mind, brainstorm as many things as you can think of that might keep that person from pulling the trigger. This is a great time to wallow in a little creative paranoia. Is your stuff too expensive? Is it hard to understand? Will it take a lot of time to install? Is it going to break in two weeks?
Think about every hesitation your prospect might conceivably have about buying your stuff, no matter how weird or far-fetched. Don’t assume that your brilliant marketing has already laid this hesitation to rest. Just list everything.
How to Create an FAQ
The FAQ is a misnamed creature. It really should be FRO–frequently raised objections.
Every objection you can think of should be on your FAQ, answered in a calm and logical way that puts those fears to rest. The underlying fear to nearly all objections is what if I feel like an idiot for buying from you? So keep that in mind when you put your answers together.
Don’t overpromise. Don’t hype. If there’s not-perfect stuff, either solve it or admit to it. (Admitting to minor not-perfect stuff is an excellent way to build a real relationship.) Just answer the questions in a way that shows you give a damn.
A Fantastic Example
I tend to assume that everyone who reads Remarkable Communication also reads Ittybiz, so you may have seen this already. But if you haven’t checked out Havi’s terrific FAQ for the Non Icky Self Promotion class (I’m taking the class and it seriously rocks, I don’t know if you can still sign up, but you should if you can), go do that.
Havi, in her adorable hippie marketer brilliance, goes through six significant objections in a respectful, thoughtful way. She doesn’t promise that her stuff fixes every problem. She doesn’t say that anyone’s objections are wrong or stupid. She just gives you an alternate way to look at them.
She’s not going to sell to everyone who reads the post. She doesn’t need or want to. The post is targeted directly at the people she can most help, and who are going to go back to Havi and Naomi and buy everything they ever put out. They’re creating their 1,000 True Fans with this kind of respectful, benefit-based marketing. It’s a great model, and one you can adapt today for your own gig.
The Zen master Suzuki Roshi might have said, “Selling, not selling. No difference.” (He never did say that, but in the spirit of the thing, that doesn’t matter.)
I know a fair number of kazillion-dollar salespeople. They all have one thing in common–they don’t seem like salespeople at all. They don’t use weird closing techniques. They don’t have handshakes that could crush rocks into gravel. They’re just nice (often soft-spoken), friendly people who have a knack for creating trusting relationships.
They can close half-million dollar deals (and do, several times a week) and leave their customers thinking, “She’s such a nice person, she didn’t sell me at all.”
If you know someone who fits that description, even if they’re not a professional salesperson, sit down & have a conversation with them around your stuff–what you have to offer, and what kinds of objections come up. Ask them how they’d talk about your FROs. Scribble down or record what they say, capturing as much of that low-key, friendly flavor as you can.
Learn the art of directly but gently addressing prospect objections, and you’ll start converting more sales. Not only that, you’ll build repeat and referral business from those customers, which puts you on track to exponential growth. It works, and you won’t need a shower afterwards.
The next post in this series will help you blast through another giant general objection: “Who cares.”
The Objection Blaster Series (So Far)
- #1: Capturing Attention
- #2: Zen Selling
- #3: Who Cares?
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Havi Brooks (and duck) says
This is genius. I LOVE the concept of FRO.
It’s so, so true. The real questions don’t get asked. They happen in people’s heads, on their own blogs and in conversations with themselves or with friends. So much more important to answer the questions that “come up” than the ones people actually ask!
That’s an understanding I’ve acted on but never really actually thought about. FRO is so smart. I’m all over FRO. Right on.
Dave Navarro says
This blog redesign looks hotter every time I see it. You picked a great theme.
Looking forward to seeing this series unfold.
Sonia Simone says
FRO FTW! 🙂
Thanks Dave–I think it looks especially good with images w/a lot of gold, like this one.
Judy Dunn says
This is absolutely perfect timing, Sonia. We are in the fianl stages of preparation for the launch of our new membership subscription, marketing for solopreneurs site. I completed the text for the FAQ page, but now I’m going to look at it again from this fresh perspective.
What an interesting way to look at it: FRO’s. Thank you for this valuable advice!
Judy Dunns last blog post..Four and a Half Months: A September 11 Story
J.D. Meier says
We call our FROs “Rude Q&A” and you’re right, they’re effective.
It’s the difference between getting caught with your pants down and acknowledging a concern with a thoughtful response. In the legal world it would be “stealing thunder” and it takes the sting out, if you raise the issues first.
Yeah, it’s not about Rico Suave salesfolk, it’s about shepherds of value with customer empathy and rapport.
J.D. Meiers last blog post..Social Loafing
Karen Swim says
Sonia, this is a great, instructive post. Long ago I was taught that objections are great as they are a request for more information. An objection indicates interest and gives you an opportunity to uncover needs and offer solutions. For the first time ever I’m working on a FAQ so your post was like a gift from heaven. I’m digging the series and cant’ wait for the next post. Thanks Sonia!
Karen Swims last blog post..What I Learned About Life from My Friends
Sonia Simone says
Happy to be of use!
JD, I like “Rude Q&A.” Nice.
The problem with soft-spoken selling is that young sales people are encouraged to be “go-getters” who “hit the ground running” “don’t take no for an answer” and love “pounding the phones” and “giving 10010 %.” They say “I’m just calling to follow-up with you” in this maddeningly contrived tone which makes it super duper obvious that no, they are not just calling to follow up with you, they are calling in fact, to sell you a houseboat you could drive to a timeshare.
I’m not quoting anyone in specific, just craigslist job listings and certain former bosses, but the point is, I tend to think people who are in a position to “not sell” somebody are established enough where they don’t have to. People up and coming would LOVE to be softer in their sales pitch, but they’ve got cropped-hair dudes with power ties and pit stains breathing down their necks–either bosses or competition–So what do you do? Be that typical “hard sell” guy until you make enough to not be? Or accept that some guys can get away with “not selling” the way some people can be thin without dieting…but for the Average Joe Salesman, it seems like there’s not alternative but to be almost comically overbearing.
Karen Swim says
Boris, I read your comment and had to offer my thoughts. I spent a career in Sales and then Marketing and am passionate about both professions. Overpowering, and manipulation are not selling. Years ago the consultative, solution selling, relationship selling trend emerged. To win at sales you do not need to be comically overbearing but you do have to dig to find out your prospects problems, be willing to ask questions to identify their needs, wants and preferences and offer solutions. You really are developing a relationship not beating them over the head with a stick until they buy. Every sales person has their own style, but aggression is not a requirement for selling success. Being a “go-getter” speaks to the ability to prospect and uncover opportunities rather than overpowering the client.
Karen Swims last blog post..Hurricane Life
Sonia Simone says
Boris, I agree that it’s a major factor. There are probably 10 sales managers out there who do more harm than good for every 1 who actually helps employees sell effectively. If you’re working for someone like that, I’d suggest getting input from some selling-specific experts like Jeffrey Gitomer, or even the great grumpy Dan Kennedy. There is a way to be persistent and to work hard without being a pest. (Karen’s take on it is very smart.) I’d also suggest the Conceptual Selling model to you (you can find a very good book on it at Amazon).
You can’t really sell most people (and if you can, you usually shouldn’t). You can create the right environment for the right customers to *buy*. Pushy selling to the wrong customers is just a disaster in a box, IME. It helps you make quota, but it doesn’t help the company grow in a healthy way, which is the perspective I look at.
At the end of the day, if you’re stuck with a sales manager who’s pushing for bad tactics, you either find and use really good sales advice that works, so you make sales and get the cropped-hair dude off your back, or if he’s just intolerable you find another position where you can put that good advice into practice.
Sonia Simone says
To put it more succinctly, the solution for Average Joe Salesman is to decide not to be average any more. I recognize that is a very hard decision to make and to live out.
Karen, I agree that being comically overbearing is not neccessary. I am just beginning a career in marketing and I have some experience in sales, and I think that is where the problem lies: my first experiences have been negative in that what I’ve been shown as the prototypical salesman has been the brash and overbearing type I’ve seen above. I’m turned off by that kind of person generally, and I certainly don’t want to be LIKE that kind of person. Unfortunately, that’s now what I associate with “sales.”
My first job out of college was working for an upstart motivational speaker who was exactly that type, and was also rather incompetent at actually getting something accomplished. So now I associate the two–in what field does sales occur when you can be “real” with someone, if you understand what I mean by “real”?
“the solution for Average Joe Salesman is to decide not to be average any more”
I really like that advice. Thanks for your feedback.
Sonia Simone says
Glad it was helpful! I am very sympathetic to the fact that this stuff is not easy to pull off. But folks (like Karen, and many others) do pull it off. Just takes some worth & some faith. 🙂
This is extremely useful. We’re trying to expand the audience of my current blog, and start two others. The big question has been – “Why should they sign up to read us?” How does one grow and keep an audience. (I was referred to your article by Copyblogger. ) It makes sense: view your site (or your product) from the vantage of your audience and zero in on the ones you most want to talk to. Thanks.
Sonia Simone says
Thanks Marbles! (I hope I can call you Marbles.) 🙂 Absolutely–blogs in particular are an intimate medium and you need to speak directly to a well-defined community. It’s somewhat “if you build it, they will come,” although there’s also some marketing stuff you can do to spread the word.
FRO is the way to go!
Sprachreisen Suedamerika says
“The FAQ is a misnamed creature. It really should be FRO–frequently raised objections.”
On one of my sites I ask visitors to order their free catalogue and to see this as an investment in their education. They have the choice of “Yes, please send me the calatlogue” and “No, I don’t want to invest into my future” which leads to a FAQ with the first question already handling the objection asking “What is the reason why you didn’t order the calatlogue today”. The visitor can enter some text into a survey field which is sent to me and I can add the Q&A for this to the FAQ later. Directly under each Q&A in the FAQ I have an other order link (which quite often converts).
Brad West says
Great site glad I fond it, The art of selling yes always a huge subject. From my experience it is basic but complex at the same time. The venue narrows down the target. If you are in a brick and mortar situation you defiantly have more control that being on the internet. Both have a basic thing in common Filling a need or creating the illusion there is a need to fill. Ether way people have a problem or desire that needs to be filled, that is a sale.
Thanks for the great post,
Brad West ~ onomoney
.-= Brad West´s last blog ..Hypnotic Conversation Totally Rules =-.
Brilliant tip for creating FAQ’s – I’ve started on them but hadn’t spent time figuring out what to actually write. Now I’ve got s process to follow to put them together – thanks a bunch!