Welcome back! Clearly, you are committed to mastering the art of selling...now for Part II of our series.
If you recall from Part I, we delved into the initial phase of the broad sales process—Discovery. We also walked you through the two sub-phases that support discovery efforts: Identify and Interview. Today, we continue with our experts Jordan Cooper, Senior Accounts Manager at Xero and Tate Henshaw, Xero Ambassador, to offer you common objections that prospects will throw out during the sales process, supported by sound tactics and tips to help you move past them and on to winning the client.
So, without further ado...let’s dive back in.
Discovery Done Well
Before digging into objections, it’s important to revisit the value of discovery in the sales process. In Part I of this series, we referred to discovery as the “starting block” of the bigger sales race. And this is, indeed, where every firm should start.
The discovery phase is the communications portion of the process. It’s where you begin your conversation with prospects—where you start to uncover their pain points, wants and needs. It’s where you collect the bulk of prospect intel—the information you will use to guide the prospect through the sales process, to build credibility and trust, and to vet prospective clients. Without working through the discovery process, what you are left with are assumptions about prospects, which can only lead to guesswork in terms of vetting and offering informed, expert solutions to resolve their challenges.
Jordan Cooper advised, “In the sales cycle, information is power. The better job that we do at qualifying prospects at [the discovery] phase, the fewer objections we will experience later on in the sales cycle.”
“In the sales cycle, information is power. The better job that we do at qualifying prospects at [the discovery] phase, the fewer objections we will experience later on in the sales cycle.” - Jordan Cooper, Xero
When discovery is done well, only then can you expect to overcome objections that are sure to come over the course of the sales process.
Common Objections and Winning the Client
If you’ve been selling for a long time, you probably know better than anyone the types of objections prospects can layout. And while objections can pop up at any time during the sales cycle, they are most common during the discovery phase.
Over the years, four common objections have emerged in the profession—price, change in the status quo, loss of control and security. As these objections surface, use the following tips and examples to more easily combat each. It’s also important to note that if you’ve done your due diligence in the discovery phase and know your prospect on a deeper emotional level, it will be easier to overcome objections.
Cooper and Henshaw provided several valuable tactics and tips to help break through objections and win the client. Consider each, and then think through how you can apply them to the objections listed after.
Redirect the conversation
—When prospects start throwing out objections, such as the price is too high or that they fear losing control of processes, it’s best to redirect the conversation back to the pain points you uncovered during the identify and interview stages. Remind the prospect of the challenges they want to overcome and the “price” of not changing with the times. You can also redirect conversations to bring in relevant examples of how companies that failed to change ended up irrelevant in their respective markets.
Reintroduce the emotion
—Go back to your interview notes and remind the prospect of what they are trying to accomplish and how you can help them. This will reestablish the emotional connection you created during discovery.
Tie in your value propositions—Because you’ve done so much work in the discovery phase, you have a clear view of how you can help the prospect. As you are working to redirect the conversation, be sure to tie in the value you bring to the table. It’s important to tell a complete “story” to help the prospect see the big picture—and that picture includes their challenges and the resolution (you)!
—Many times, objections from prospects are driven on pure fear—fear of the unknown or fear of change. Take the time to educate prospects on better ways to run their businesses.
Now, let’s move on to the objections and a few examples that put the above tips to good use.
Objection 1: Price - It’s too expensive
Is this really a big surprise to anyone? Price is typically the number one objection across the board, especially when it comes to professional services. Unlike retail sales, professional services often come with a higher price tag and a longer-term commitment. As such, the sales life cycle is long and the number of objections experienced can be higher.
Consider the following example:
Prospect pain points uncovered in discovery: AP process is manually driven and paper-heavy, requires duplicate data entry and, therefore, has a higher risk of human error. Firm also deals with unhappy staff due to lack of automation and standardization of processes.
Applied techniques: Redirect the conversation to the pain points you uncovered during discovery and ask the prospect a new set of questions, such as:
What would you do if you could get back hours, even days, of time by automating your AP process?
How would you use the added time to grow your business?
How do you think your staff would react to quelling the chaos of manual processes by automating workflows?
What’s the value to you to run more efficiently, experience higher realization rates and support a more productive and happier staff?
Once you’ve changed the course of the conversation, further break down the objection by clearly stating your value props and reintroducing the emotion connected to the original pain points.
“The important thing to remember when a prospect raises an objection is to focus on communicating the value of your service or product, while simultaneously tying it all together with the information they shared with you during discovery.” - Jordan Cooper, Xero
Objection 2: It’s a status quo killer
Change is hard for most people, which is why so many like to hang on to the norm. When the status quo is challenged, prospects may object to the idea of letting go of the old to bring in the new. Status quo killer is a fear-based objection, so your job is to quell the fear and reassure the prospect that change is positive and, in the long run, will serve them well.
Consider the following example:
Prospect pain points uncovered in discovery: Business owner knows that change is needed, but there is a fear that major change will cause too much disruption among staff and clients.
Applied techniques: Take the time to educate your clients on the positive effect of change, especially when it means updating outmoded systems and processes. You can also offer real-world examples of companies who have failed to change quickly enough and the aftermath that ensued (e.g.: Yellow Cab v. Uber; Blackberry v. Apple; MapQuest v. Google Maps). You can ask such questions as:
Where do you see your business in 5 or 10 years if you stay the same?
Do you think your staff and clients want you to stay the same?
Considering a few examples of companies that have become irrelevant due to not changing quickly enough, do you think this could happen to you?
Objection 3: I’ll lose control
This is another fear-based objection that comes up often. Business owners do not like to think about giving up control of operations at any level. However, the fact is that by automating and standardizing workflows, owners actually have more control over processes.
Consider the following example:
Prospect pain points uncovered in discovery: Business owner is focused on long-term growth efforts but is spending hours on back-office, manually driven compliance work.
Applied techniques: This is a great example of where redirecting the conversation can turn this objection on its head. This also represents an opportunity to educate a prospect on how automating accounting work puts them squarely in the driver’s seat. You can ask such questions as:
What exactly do you believe you will lose control of?
What level of control and visibility do you have now as part of your current model?
Can you envision how automating your back office can actually expand your control and transparency into your data? (If the prospect answers, “No,” take this opportunity to explain it to them.)
“Most people, in reality, are not currently in control because they don't have access to their numbers. They don't have the information to make good decisions, so you can actually offer them more control so they can make good, informed decisions. That's your ultimate goal.” - Tate Henshaw
Objection 4: Security
Security is one of the most prominent objections, yet so many people are still using far-less-secure tools for communicating sensitive data and delivering documents, such as email. The fact is that the cloud is far more secure than, for example, email or in-house servers.
Consider the following example:
Prospect pain points uncovered in discovery: The prospect had an in-house server hacked last year, compromising all clients’ sensitive data. This caused a great deal of panic within the firm and among clients. It also put a major dent in the firm’s reputation. Hours were dedicated to communicating the issue to clients and quelling client fears via one-on-one calls.
Applied techniques: Reintroduce the emotion tied to this situation, reminding the client of all the time lost to cleaning up after being hacked. Also, while you have the prospect’s ear, be sure to take some time to educate them on the high-value of cloud security and features such as two-factor authentication and single sign-on. To keep the conversation moving forward and get prospects to think about security at a deeper level, ask such questions as:
What would it mean to your staff and your clients if you moved to a far more secure technology ecosystem?
What would your staff or clients do if they had to live through another data breach?
What security measures do you have in place now? (This can lead to a deeper discussion that may uncover many holes in their current security protocol.)
Cleary, each of the tactics covered in this section can be applied to the top objections listed above. The point is that you have several options to change the conversation and educate clients to move them closer to conversion.
The Final Wrap…
In Part I of this series, we’ve covered the core elements of the discovery phase within the broad sales process. This is where you’ll make your biggest time commitment. Discovery provides you with meaningful prospect information and allows you to make a deeper emotional connection with prospective clients. It allows you to uncover wants, needs and pain points of prospects and elicit focused information.
When discovery is well done, it sets you up to mitigate common objections and win your ideal clients. Historic objections such as price, change in the status quo, loss of operational control or concerns related to security can be easily combated when you know how to redirect the conversation, offer consultative guidance and, ultimately, build trust with prospects.
Take the time to evaluate your sales process. Are you dedicating ample time to discovery? Are you asking the right questions? Are you able to break through objections to win the clients you want? If not, take the tips offered in Parts I and II of this series to master the art of selling!
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