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A-Z of Business: O – Objection Handling – The Ten Essentials

Objection handling

 

Objections are an inevitable part of any selling process – whether you are selling products, services or an idea.  It is the part of the sale which leaves all but the very best sales people, influencers and negotiators trembling behind a façade of the “this-doesn’t-bother-me-at-all” faux-smile.  It’s what keeps most would-be sales people hiding under a duvet of busy-ness so they never get to make the call which could result in the rejection they fear so much.  And this is because they personalise the “rejection”.  They make it about themselves rather than a legitimate (or smoke-screen) concern. 

Sales is really a numbers game and you need to get through so many rejections before you can make one sale.  Objections are often a signal for more information and here are a few ideas to help you through with greater ease:

  1. First and foremost, don’t take it personally.  You can no more be an effective salesperson without objections as you could be an effective car without wheels.  Think of objections, instead, as “feedback”.
  2. The second “secret” is to build emotional resilience.  That’s a big subject to which I devote a whole chapter in my book 21 Ways and 21 Days to the Life You Want.  However, one quick way of building resilience is to view every experience as a learning opportunity.
  3. Prepare by listing all the objections you think you may receive – here are some common ones:
    • Price
    • Delivery terms
    • They already have a current supplier
  4. Practice active listening so that you really understand what they are saying, not what you want to hear or what fits into your well-prepared script.
  5. The easiest objection handling technique (and there are many) is the shopping list technique.  It flushes out any possible objections up front.  To do this, you need to elicit all their wants in advance and write them down.  When they have finished, ask “Anything else?” until you are sure you have everything.  Then say “So, if we meet all these needs, you will want to go ahead?”  This, of course, is assuming that you’re actually speaking to the decision maker.
  6. Think of your offering in terms of features and benefits.  Let’s say that you are selling a gardening magazine.  The feature may be that it is full of interesting articles by some of the country’s top experts.  The benefit might include some of the following: that it will provide easy-to-follow answers to all their gardening problems right when they need it so that they can enjoy a beautiful garden all-year round; they will spend less money on plants which were never suitable for their garden in the first place; they will be able to enjoy a hobby rather than be frustrated by the lack of progress; they will learn new skills, and create a space where they can relax/have fun with their kids/entertain friends/grow organic vegetables to make healthy meals for their families; they will have more time to enjoy being in their garden rather than working on their garden, etc.  The idea is to find out what they want and sell to those rather than have a blanket list.
  7. Avoid giving too many benefits because you dilute the message – just focus on their specific wants and needs.
  8. Move them through negative states into the positive state you want them to experience, ie. from cynicism to curiosity to openness and finally to enthusiasm.  I cover this in my Influencing for Better Business course.
  9. Once you have taken them through each of their shopping list items, ask if there is anything else they need.  Then, for any ongoing objections ask “If I could deal with this, would you be ready to go ahead?”.  Then come up with a solution to the problem that they are happy with. 
  10. When all objections are handled, ask for the sale.  You will be surprised how many people miss off this important element. 

I couldn’t finish this article without my bonus tip – limit your sales calls and sandwich them in between enjoyable activities that give you a sense of achievement.  This helps you to stay resourceful and to maintain your energy levels and resilience. 

If you would like to learn more about how you can handle objections, why not book for a coaching session, or onto my next Influencing for Better Business course?  Investing in yourself in this way can really yield exceptional results.  Call 0845 130 0854 for more information on how to accelerate your success.
 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: F – Finance – 5 Tips to Help Your Business Succeed

 

1.  Cash is King

Cash flow is the main reason for business succeeding or failing.  An apparently successful business may have a full order book, and even good levels of projected profit, but if funds cannot be collected from customers in a reasonable timescale the business will fail.  You should ensure your customers are aware of your payment terms before carrying out tasks and where possible advanced payments, should be requested.

Tip – Get paid on time by ensuring you have regular communication with your customer and that you have an effective credit control procedure.

 

2.  Overtrading

This is where a business has a full order book but struggles to convert turnover (sales) into profit.  This situation usually develops when tasks are taken on at a cheaper rate when compared to competitors in order to secure orders.  Subsequently, the business becomes very busy but the income generated is not sufficient in order make a profit, and so the business fails.  This strategy can be used carefully in order to try and build a reputation but for small businesses it should not be used in the long-term.  Remember “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”.

Tip – You are usually in business to make money so ensure you do not under-sell your products or services unless you have a clearly defined plan.

3.  Control the Controllable

Fixed costs – these costs do not vary regardless of the business activity undertaken, i.e. rent and rates.

Variable costs – these are dependant on the level of activity, i.e. heat and light or staff overtime.

Tight control and effective monitoring of these costs is essential.  Whilst fixed costs by their very nature are easier to control, effective negotiation with suppliers is an important step.  Variable costs can often get out of control if not properly managed, i.e. buying stock recklessly can tie up cash and may lead to unforeseen losses.

Tip – Ensure there is an efficient method of recording  and managing costs.  Monitor them on a regular basis.

4.  Supplier Relationships

Negotiating with your suppliers is important in order to gain value for money but when evaluating a potential supplier do not focus solely on the costs.  You should try and build a close working relationship with your suppliers and also consider the following:

  1. Product efficiency – do they have a good reputation for supplying reliable products?
  2. Delivery – can delivery be made in a timely manner?
  3. Payment Terms – extended terms can often ease your own cash flow concerns.

Tip – Ensure you question potential suppliers to ensure they meet your key criteria.

5.  Initial Funding

Many small businesses often underestimate the amount of necessary funding needed to commence trading or start a new product line or service.  This lack of funding will immediately restrict any business capacity and will greatly threaten the potential growth and stability of your business.  Always identify and try to properly estimate the amount of money needed to launch your business and to cover the costs for at least the first year which should include both running expenses and capital investment.

Tip – Take time to plan the financial implications of your business plans.

With thanks to:

Colin Bentall FCCA
Ford Bentall LLP
www.fordbentall.co.uk

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A-Z of Business: D – Decision Making

 

Of all the things you have to do in business, making effective decisions is probably the most important.  Decisions can vary from a simple yes” or “no”, or between a variety of options or even to determine what the options are.  The subject of the decision can also be varied from hiring and firing, appointing the right supplier, deciding whether to increase your product portfolio or consolidate, expand or downsize, borrow or cut costs.  Each of these decisions can have long term consequences so it’s prudent to make sure your decision-making is pretty robust.  Delay can be as destructive as the bad decision.

Here are my top ten tips to effective decision-making:

  1. Clarify the problem you want to resolve – different people may have a different perspective on what the problem is.
  2. Include relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process – if the right people are not involved, they can adversely impact the implementation of your decision.
  3. Brainstorm all the options – don’t judge them yet, just put all the options down on paper.  Essentially this is about becoming aware of what you could do before you decide what you should do.  If you go into the shoulds too early, you cut yourself off from creativity.
  4. Determine what will let you know the decision was a good one.
  5. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option and for each stakeholder including:
    • Costs involved, especially whether the solution outweighs the problem it is intended to resolve
    • Effect on profit
    • Effect on customer relations
    • Impact on employees and workflow
    • Ability to support the decision in terms of skills, time and resources (a lot of good decisions don’t work out because of the lack of infrastructure to make them happen).
  6. Ask yourself whether it is line with your personal and business values – if it is not, it is bound to lead you into hot water at some point.
  7. If you are not at peace with the decision ask yourself what the concern is.  Is there a way of addressing this concern whilst going forward with the decision?
  8. Make sure the solution is treating the cause of the problem rather than the results.
  9. Consider any negative outcomes which may result from your decision and minimise those as much as possible – even the best decisions can have negative consequences – sometimes the best decision is not the most popular so it’s important to think of the short-term and long-term implications and how you can mediate those.
  10. Last, but by no means least, develop an implementation plan – no point in going through all of this if it isn’t going to bear fruit.

Finally, problems to avoid:

  • Analysis paralysis – you can spend too much time gathering data to make your decision – get the balance right.  Often the information being collected is to provide comfort rather than to influence your decision either way. Gather only what you need.
  • Procrastination – the enemy of success and the refuge for those who fear failure.  Procrastination can cause missed deadlines, missed opportunities, wasted resources, delayed projects, and frustrated customers, vendors, employees and co-workers .  It can often cause a loss of respect.  The worst thing is not to do anything.  Much better to anticipate problems and plan for them.
  • Impulsivity.  This is often the curse of the enthusiast.  They often rely on their “gut” but the decisions are not backed up by critical thinking around consequences and implementation issues.  Make calculated decisions and then your gut will tell you if it’s right or not.   A “niggle” can tell you that there is something you’ve overlooked.
  • Ignoring different viewpoints.  Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places and if you are filtering information through your ego, you are closed off to this.  At the same time, you don’t want to pander to people’s ideas if they don’t work.  It’s important simply to be open and receptive. Sometimes someone else’s idea might not be right in itself but is the seed for something which is.

I can’t resist one more tip:  ask yourself whether it will feel like the right decision a year from now.  This often flushes out any unconscious concerns or validates a difficult decision.

To your success,

Tricia Woolfrey
© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: C – Customer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business.  It doesn’t matter how good your product or service, if you don’t have customers willing to buy, you have nothing.  In such challenging times, and considering the cost of attracting just one customer (have you ever done the maths on this?), customer retention is a stronger strategy than customer attraction could ever be.

Yet, it seems that customer care has taken a back seat to profit.  A short-term tactic with long-term consequences.  And yet, effective customer care does not have to be costly.  Not only that, you can expect to see your profits increase as your customers stay longer, buy more and refer more.  And the benefits don’t end there – your employees will be happier.  I am always struck by the check out staff at supermarkets who don’t acknowledge you – how unhappy they look.  I pay extra where the staff are happier – it makes such a difference to the buying experience.

Below are my top ten tips for customer retention.

All customers:

  1. Acknowledge them by name if known, and a warm smile – a genuine smile even comes across over the phone.
  2. Tell them you’ll be with them in a moment if you are busy with someone else.  If it will be more than a moment – let them know in advance.  Set realistic expectations.
  3. Ask yourself how your processes and actions serve customer needs and affects their experience .
  4. Make sure your staff are knowledgeable and find answers to questions if in doubt.  Saying “I don’t know” is just not acceptable.
  5. Under-promise and over-deliver – essential for trust.  Do keep them updated if delays are foreseen.
  6. Hire and train staff who have a strong customer service orientation – be uncompromising about this.  Any apathy or negativity affects profit and morale of other staff members.
  7. Treat your customers how you want to be treated yourself.  You know how it feels when you are respected and when you are treated well.  I am reminded of a friend of mine who recently reported that she closed her bank account as her bank was offering new customers a better interest rate, despite the fact she had been a loyal customer for years.

The biggest risk factor in terms of customers is how you deal with them when there’s a problem.  Here are my top tips to deal with unhappy customers:

  1. Respond positively and empathetically:
    • Thank them – their feedback is a gift and helps you improve your business.
    • Be quick to apologise authentically.
  2. Inform them of what you will do with their feedback – and then make sure you do what you say you will do– it will help build your business in all kinds of positive ways.
  3. Resolve problems quickly and thoroughly.  Be sure to give a little extra to make up for the inconvenience.

Responding well to complaints can not only redeem you in the eyes of the customers but make a complainant into an ambassador for your company, bringing in new business.

Finally, one last thought – do make it easy for people to do business with you – don’t let apathy be your only weapon for customer retention.  Delight them and make raving fans.

To your success!

Tricia Woolfrey

PS  Customer attraction and retention are a very complex area – to book a consultation to find out how you can gain more business through customers new and existing, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia Woolfrey is a business, performance and productivity coach, helping people to succeed in their business, and for their business to succeed. She has extensive experience with clients across several business sectors, including IT, telecoms, event management, entertainment, recruitment, finance, PR, coaching and therapy, support services, legal and more, ranging from large corporates to start-ups and the solo-preneurs. 

Prior to running her own consultancy, she was Group HR Director for a multi-national organisation and is a member of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development. Her integrative approach to change has had profound results for individuals and organisations alike.

“The results there were nothing short of fantastic”- Guy Apple, VP Marketing & Sales, NVT, UK

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