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Lucas HamonJan 23, 2017 6:28:00 AM9 min read

Your Sales Team Sees These 3 Objections as Deal Killers - Do You?

They don't understand why you don't understand how they don't understand your understanding of a quality lead.

I am still steaming about a mistake I recently made because I let my business owner instincts completely take over my decisions during the vetting of a new sales prospect.

I should have cut bait, and in my prior life in sales, I would have, even if it meant taking heat from those who signed my paycheck every month.

But, like many business owners do every so often as well, I let their statement, "yes, I'm interested," overshadow the numerous red flags that popped up throughout the course of our sales relationship. And, owner-me promptly ordered sales-me to suck it up, and make it happen.


SEE PART 1 HERE: 8 Sales Objections Business Owners Fail to Grasp


The signs are ALWAYS there - 

I said it in the last article, and I'll say it again! The signs are ALWAYS there, and your salespeople should be looking for these dead-ends just as much as they're looking for buying signals.

They probably get this. That's not to say that they're going to get it right every time, or that every salesperson is capable of actually seeing them... Not everybody is good at sales, and not every star from yesterday will shine as brightly for you today or as brightly as they will for somebody else tomorrow.

It's also not to say that they shouldn't be managed by a capable sales leader to keep them on course. However, there is a problem with the way salespeople are positioned in the hierarchy, often being dismissed as incompetent or lazy when they give excuses for not hitting quota. But the reality is that they are your front line, and despite YOUR many years of experience, they probably know more about the battlefield than you do.

You should listen. Look for patterns. And maybe even adopt an idea or two of theirs every once in a while... especially those who surprise you with their results. You know the one(s) I'm talking about... they don't follow protocol, and never hit their quotas, except for the only one that really, truly matters - sales revenue... and they're always proving you wrong.

Yeah, those are the ones to listen to.

Here are 3 more objections (starting at number FOUR) your salespeople are facing that they would like you to trust their instincts on - and let them back off:

 

4: Cost of inaction is benign

One of the ways we qualify out pointless prospects from the good ones is uncover what their cost of inaction is. If it's not enough, then they're probably not going to buy. Why on earth would they if they're not losing sleep over the cost of inaction?

So, at some point in the exploratory call (learn more about the inbound sales process), I ask the question, "What happens if we DON'T hit these goals? How does this impact the business?"

The main story I highlighted the first article, the one that had me steaming at the beginning of this one, was led by a business owner who said that failure wasn't an option. It would be bad. No way they can let it happen. However, when I pressed him on it, and asked what ACTUALLY happens if they don't hit their goals... The answer was, well... nothing... they would just have to try again next year.

Normally, that would be enough for me to start looking for the exit, and I think the prospect could sense that their answer wasn't what I was looking for, so they mentioned that they made other investments in their business, such as moving to a new office and hiring a couple of people.

They were certainly preparing for growth, and as a business owner who has planned through several phases of growth myself, I saw this as enough to move on. My sales instincts were kicking and screaming, telling me that they weren't ready for a marketing investment, but my Business Owner instincts won.

5: Their "why now" answer sucks

If you as a business owner are thinking of investing in marketing, and you come to me seeking a consultation, I am going to ask you, "Why now?" I'm hoping that your sales teams are doing the same thing with their prospects because this is a GREAT way to get into their heads and find out what's motivating them to take action today vs last year or next year.

For these guys, their answer wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. They had never invested in marketing before. Ever. Although this is not totally unusual for a CPA firm, it's definitely a red flag. But their "why now" was something along the lines of "it's just time." That's definitely a sucky answer, or at least a sign that they are VERY early in their buyer's decision process.

READ: How Inbound Marketing Motivates The Buyer Decision Process

I dug a little, and they made some casual remarks about why they thought it was time, and they were able to convince me to keep marching forward, but what my gut told me was that they were still in the awareness stage of the buyer's journey, and were several months away from having enough clarity to even know what their investment should look like.

Their marketing objectives were solid though. They have a recurring revenue model, and wanted to add 3 new customers a month, and were open to seeing it pay off between 12 and 24 months of execution - which is VERY reasonable... With goals like that, I can assemble an inbound marketing plan that will get them there by driving traffic to the website, converting traffic into leads, and nurturing leads until they are ready for contact.

Great objectives. Great industry. But still a bust... and their "why now" answers told me that.

If you recall, I invested 14+ hours into this one, and I have no higher-ups to blame except for myself.

6: They just started their search

We all have to start somewhere - regardless of what it is that we're doing - there is ALWAYS a starting point, and when somebody is JUST getting started, that doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad prospect - not on its own, anyhow. But it is a red flag, and I was on high alert because of it.

But just because it's a red flag, that doesn't mean an early prospect is a bad thing. - actually, I think it's rarely EVER a bad thing. Getting somebody when they're uncorrupted by misinformation or a history of failed investments means that there isn't as much baggage to deal with.

But as far as your salespeople are concerned, this is not the type of lead they should be investing their time into. This is where your marketing investment should be applied instead. It would be nice if your marketing and sales teams were aligned, so transitioning from one to the next was fluid and organic, and didn't make the prospect feel like they were being put into a "system."

Last year, I had a prospect who was wishy-washy about setting the next call while we were looking at our calendars and who had just started their quest for information about growth tactics - Even though they were asking for me to invest time and resources into creating a proposal for them.

I told them about my concerns, and after a little bit of back and forth, they agreed, and we parted ways with them having more information and a little education, and a plan for us to reconvene at the end of 2017.

This happened at the end of our exploratory call, so in all, I spent 1.25 hours on them, and they ended up being future prospects.

With my most recent scenario, the one that had me steaming, if I just add up the hours spent on the calls, prepping for the calls, putting together slide decks, and research, we're looking at approximately 5 - 6 hours. THEN throw the time developing the plan, assembling the proposal, getting other eyes on it, and having discussions... THEN submitting and assembling the slide deck for our final call, we're looking at another 8+ hours.

We take our proposals seriously, so if we get to that stage, there BETTER be a closeable deal on the table, not this... not 14+ hours on a prospect this early in their search, that will probably have no better shot at closing than the guy I spent 1.25 hours with. After all, who is to say that the client will even hit the other milestones they said they needed to hit before investing?

What comes first, sales or marketing? They want to make more money before investing in marketing, but they're having a hard time bringing in new deals to make more money, which is why they're considering a marketing investment in the first place.

I'd say the guy I spent less time with has a better shot at closing because now he doesn't have 12 months to compare my proposal to anybody else who wants a shot at their business. And what happens if the prospect sends my proposal to another agency that cold-calls them in 8 months? They wouldn't have to go through any of the process... they could just carbon copy my plan, slap on a slightly lower fee, and land the deal.

It's not to say that it will pay off - shortcuts like that rarely do, so in the end, nobody wins.

It's just bad... really, really bad. And I should have seen it coming.


CONCLUSION:

Before you start gutting your sales teams, consider this: It's quite possible that you're feeding them bad juju, and that it's the sales process and possibly even your lead source that need to be replaced, not your talent.

You're probably feeding them the same leads that all of your competitors are feeding their teams, because you bought them from the same off-shore companies - or found them in Hoovers or Dunn & Bradstreet or Bullhorn (for your staffing agencies). You're also likely having them follow a similar script as your competitors, and not doing anything in the sales process to differentiate yourselves, other than have your salespeople tell everybody how different you are.

Well, that wasn't enough 10 years ago when the internet was still finding its way, but it's especially not the answer today in my opinion. They need your support, not just with a strong delivery model they can sell with confidence, but with marketing that supports their efforts - with leads that come to them, not the other way around.

This is something we can help you with. It's what we do, actually. If you're interested in learning how to get a healthy flow of leads coming your way every month, let's set up a quick marketing consultation!

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.

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