Into every sales cycle a little rain must fall – prospects get cold feet, someone raises an objection, the IT group puts up a roadblock. In her excellent book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, Ardath Albee calls these “step backs” in the sales cycle.
How do you handle those inevitable questions and objections? Do you wait for prospects to come to you with an objection, then provide a carefully crafted answer? Do you rely on the training and quick thinking of your sales staff? Or do you address them head-on in the rich content you make available throughout the sales cycle?
When I first started in marketing, sales objections and their answers were closely guarded secrets, buried in sales guides and internal documents provided to sales. No one wanted to put the possible objections in the prospects’ minds in the first place.
Today, everything has changed. You can’t sweep possible objections under the rug, and leave it to your sale team to answer them as they arise. Why?
They’ll find out anyway. Your prospects are researching actively their options, talking with others on social networks, or communicating with other vendors. There’s not much point in hiding concerns if they’re common ones.
You may not get a chance to defend yourself. Given the long nature of the B2B sales cycle, prospects may raise a concern before they have engaged with your sales team. They could dismiss your solution before you’re personally engaged with them.
The better approach is to address those concerns head-on. For example:
- Discuss potential risks and how to mitigate them in your papers and solution collateral.
- Create specific papers for stakeholders (like IT organizations) that may raise concerns about integration or security.
- Integrate objection handling in customer stories where appropriate.
- If the personal touch is important, offer a podcast or video that addresses the concern and make it available on your website.
By openly airing potential objections, you can smooth the sales cycle while earning your prospects’ trust.