Your reps may be great at peeling back the layers of each organization to find the right decision-maker, but how do they overcome objections and a meeting? Chances are there is a gatekeeper that is ready to throw up one objection after another, all in an effort to filter out the riff-raff and not waste the decision-makers time.
Gatekeepers are typically great at their job and have seen just about every tactic out of the 1990s sales for dummies playbook.
The truth – traditional sales strategies and tactics no longer work.
That might be a hard pill to swallow, but customers have more information and more options than they did 25 years ago. So how can sales reps expect to see results and get in front of the decision-makers with any consistency?
Stop selling and focus on receptivity.
Gatekeepers have seen and heard it all. They have every sales line filed away in their roadblock Rolodex and they are ready to deploy one hurdle after another until the rep gives up and moves on. The reason gatekeepers are the bane of salespeople is because the motive is transparent.
They know why the rep is calling. There is a quota to hit and a commission to earn. The gatekeeper, let alone the decision maker, doesn’t care about the rep’s sales (or personal) goals. They are focused on their own unique challenges and needs.
Choose to serve
The only way to increase receptivity is to change their perception. This starts with a choice that each sales rep must make before they even pick up the phone or fire off an email – choosing who they will serve.
By actively choosing to serve, the rep removes their needs and wants from the equation. The focus can then be shifted entirely to the customer and each conversation will look dramatically different.
Gatekeepers expect an aggressive elevator pitch. Many will let the rep get their 15-second spiel out, only to immediately brush them off. Most of the time this is a direct result of the rep assuming they know exactly how their product or service will help the prospect.
For years sales reps have been taught that they have the best product and that every company in their target market can benefit from buying. Will reps land a meeting here or there if they assume this? Sure.
But they will be much more consistent in their ability to book meetings if they simply go into each conversation assuming they know nothing about the unique challenges and goals of the prospect. By taking this approach, questions replace the elevator pitch, and both parties will have a better understanding of whether a meeting is warranted or not. We refer to this as being Other-Centered®.
Being an Other-Centered salesperson does two things for the trajectory of every deal.
First and foremost, this approach builds trust. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and is critical to every deal. The conversation becomes easier and walls between the gatekeeper and the rep are removed.
The second, and perhaps most important, thing that happens when receptivity is the goal is that the gatekeeper becomes a champion in your corner. Decision makers rely on the opinions of their gatekeepers and when a rep chooses to serve the client’s best interest, you can bet that it will be relayed to the person that will ultimately make or break the deal.
Overcoming Objections 101
Even with the best sales training reps will have to overcome objections. Trying to eliminate objections is an exercise in futility. Prepping your team to overcome objections is just as important as helping them take an Other-Centered approach. Here are three tips to help your team become more effective when objections come their way.
Ditch the script
The word playbook gets thrown around in the sales industry. As sales leaders, it is important that we foster an environment that doesn’t rely on scripts and rigid rules. These tools can be great training guides, but they are limited in their ability to overcome objections.
“Well, we have been using scripts for years.”
How is that working for your team?
The problem with scripts is that they assume. They assume that all client challenges are the same. They assume that people will be receptive to the rep’s canned response. They assume that reps cannot interact with customers in a way that fosters a relationship.
Organizations that take an Other-Centered approach might use the playbook as a loose guide to bring new team members up to speed, but it cannot – and should not – be the end all be all.
Seek a deeper understanding
So if scripts aren’t the way, how are reps going to overcome objections? The answer is incredibly simple, they need to constantly seek a better understanding of each objection.
The overwhelming majority of objections to a meeting are completely misconstrued by the sales rep. Again, this is because assumption creeps in. They assume they have the right response and that the gatekeeper will be receptive.
Sales reps don’t need to have all of the answers. They should have an understanding of how the product works, but they should also constantly seek to understand how it might fit into each prospect’s organization.
Doing so transforms the sales rep into a trusted advisor, and people buy from people they trust.
Attach a disruptive truth
People don’t like to provide information to someone they perceive as unable to help them address a problem or issue. This is why most decision-makers delegate the discovery phase to gatekeepers or a dedicated evaluator.
To avoid getting caught in a Groundhog Day scenario, where the rep and gatekeeper go round after round with no progress, utilize a disruptive truth.
A disruptive truth is nothing more than a factual statement that goes against conventional thinking or wisdom and requires the prospect to respond.
Here is a great example of a disruptive truth:
“Ninety percent of social media strategies fail because they invest in content and channels that don’t reach the intended audience. How would you assess your current social media strategy?”
Disruptive truths spark thought and ask a question that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no statement. Notice there is nothing in this response that mentions a product or solution. The focus is solely on a fact and how it impacts the prospect.
Receptivity Starts With Mindset
You can’t snap your fingers and become Other-Centered. It takes constant dedication and practice. The reps that are able to change their mindset and approach sales with only the customer in mind, will discover that prospects are more receptive, and booking a meeting with the right person will become significantly easier.
To learn more about the Other-Centered sales strategy and our other sales training packages, connect with a member of the ASLAN team. You have the sales team you need, together we can make them rockstars.
ASLAN teaches sellers an easier, better way to gain access & influence unreceptive customers, by eliminating the hard sell.