Every business development professional has experienced times when clients voiced objections about the deal they are trying to close. From the pricing being too high to project deadline qualms, it is inevitable that prospects and clients are going to have concerns at some point during the Build Everything Together stage. The real test of mettle for BD professionals isn’t how they avoid objections; it’s how they overcome them.
The natural reaction to an objection, especially when you're approaching the end of the BD process as the deal is about to be closed, is to immediately try to shoot it down. You may have heard the objection before and know exactly how it should be dealt with, or maybe the objection seems petty or even wrong.
The first key step to understanding how to deal with objections is to try to put yourself in your client’s shoes and, more importantly, his mind. What is causing the objection in the first place, and then what information needs to be discussed in order to resolve it?
Anyone who has ever read the book “Freakonomics” will recognize and appreciate that the root causes of problems are often hidden and forgotten in favor of more readily available answers. BAM! We've hit a major obstacle that prevents the successful handling of objections – when a professional has no idea what the real root cause of the objection might be. By assuming that they can overcome the objections immediately, with no further information, they fail to find the true issue that they need to solve.
Even with objections that seem very straightforward, there are a number of possible undercurrents that are causing the major objection. In fact, there are potential roots in each one of the four HBDI® quadrants – blue (financial), yellow (strategic), green (processes), and red (relationship). Instead of taking a stab in the dark, here at BIG we suggest three practices to ensure that objections are taken care of in the most timely and effective manner.
1. Patient Listening
There is nothing fancy or profound about this first, but potentially most important, tip. By refusing to cave in to the temptation to attack the objections as soon as they are voiced, you buy time to really understand the problem. By waiting and listening to your client, you will be able to find the true root cause of the objection. In the long run, you save yourself and your client time and energy, even though you have to be patient and listen up front.
2. Great Questions
The key goal of being patient and listening is to find the true root of the issue. In order to accelerate that process, you have to ask meaningful questions. They don’t have to be profound; they just need to move you toward a better understanding of your client’s point of view.
Also, it is important to remember that it may take several questions to get to the true root of the issue. Some readers may have heard of the “Toyota 5 Whys” method, which is essentially a process used in operations management that simply involves asking “Why?” multiple times to eventually find the real root of the problem. Although this process was designed for supply chain and operations management for process improvement, the tool also has applications in many other areas. You probably won’t need to ask 5 different questions to find the root of your client’s objection, but most of the time you will have to ask more than just one question.
3. Resolving Objections Matrix
We all learn through experience. Overcoming objections is another one of those skills that takes time to perfect. In order to speed up the mastery process, we recommend creating a Resolving Objections matrix. This matrix should essentially be a written record of the general objections that you overcame, the clarifying questions that you used or could use to better understand the root issue, and the solution that you came up with for each of those root issues. In short, it should be a cheat sheet that you can study before meetings so that you are ready to help overcome any objections that come your way.
Objections are somethings that BD professionals face on a regular basis. By having a little patience and asking great, insightful questions, you can find the root issues behind those objections. It’s almost like taking the mask off of the monster; once you find the root cause, the objection isn’t so scary anymore.