(By James Bahm) Having a mentor, friend, and sounding board is an excellent way to grow personally and professionally — and a wonderful resource, especially if they are in your office. Depending on your personality type, having someone to speak with can help you see the situation from a different perspective.
Sitting in front of a prospect/client, maintaining control over what we say, how we ask questions, and the way we present ourselves will go a long way in improving our closing ratio, and ultimately growing our bottom line.
I recently met with a client and one major takeaway from the conversation was the perception that some professionals (referencing those in the media field, but it easily could be any person in sales/service) do not take the time to listen to what is being said or even take a few extra minutes to READ what is being sent in an email.
Professionalism is easy. Executing it in one’s daily activities takes effort.
It’s important to know your products and services; however, I’ve long believed and often said that all the product knowledge in the world is useless unless you can equate it to something of value for the client/prospect with whom you’re meeting. And I’ve recently learned that a feature is only a benefit when the client/prospect sees the value in your offering and how it can solve their problem and fill their need.
Before a prospect can become a client, I must first establish a relationship and earn their trust. In advertising/media sales, I often meet with individuals who say, “I tried it before and advertising just didn’t work”; “No one listens/watches/reads radio/TV/Print/Digital)”; and myriad of other objections — usually generalized with a “no one” or “everyone” as the subject.
Think about your profession, whatever industry you’re in there are objections you come across every day. And when you’ve spent years in a career you have the knowledge and insight to help those clients that are a good fit; and (talking with a few colleagues) it’s difficult not to take some things personally at times. After all, our income is directly related to our ability to connect with clients and provide a solution that allows them to be successful.
Consider this: most objections are restated needs that a prospect has. And what I’ve learned is that many of the comments I hear are many years worth of unanswered questions, a lack of having expectations met — and a lack of mutually agreed upon expectations, and maybe even a lack of knowledge and/or understanding about the subject matter.
According to learnersdictionary.com, Merriam-Webster defines an expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge relating to a particular subject; having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.”
Therefore, it’s safe to say that most professional sellers are experts at what they do. The next time you meet with a prospect who is giving you objections, don’t be defensive. Instead, take the time to listen to what they’re saying, ask them to explain their reasoning. and then validate what they say.
A simple line like, “You make a valid point” or “I can understand your perspective, and some of my best clients have felt the same way when we started working together.”
Like a client shared with me the other day, they want to be heard and understood, and they want to know you are LISTENING to them and communicating openly. Not every prospect you meet with will be a good client, and the way you interact with them and respond to their questions will go a long way to position yourself as an expert in their eyes. And who knows where that can lead.
Being a professional and listening to your prospects/clients can make all the difference in helping stem the tide of disillusionment and gain an ally.
BOTTOM LINE: In the absence of mutual agreement with any expectation, that expectation will be too high and disappointment will follow. And once there is a disappointment, disillusionment and cynicism are next. Don’t be a source of disappointment, disillusionment, and cynicism. Be a professional.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER: What objections do you regularly hear? How do you overcome those objections and help educate your prospects on seeing the value of the solutions you provide?
James Bahm is a 25-year broadcasting professional, an advertising and marketing resource, and owner of The Bahm Consulting.