Why is it that some salespeople are so much more productive than others? There are many ways in which one differs from another. One of the strongest selling attributes that I have observed over the years is the ability to answer a potential customer's objections intelligently. A simple educated response to a real or unreal concern expressed by the buyer will give that salesperson a much higher closing ratio when compared with an unprepared salesperson who has no idea of how to answer objections.
I have listed some objections that are heard often when soliciting or presenting to a prospective coffee service decision-maker. Included with each objection are several responses that can be used to answer the prospective client. I suggest that you do not just read the answers to these objections to your sales and marketing people. Set up a game or discussion and have each participant answer each objection on their own, and then have a discussion about the answers they have come up with among themselves. Finally, bring into the discussion the answers mentioned below. You may be happily surprised by some of the responses from your sales team.
If you are the only salesperson for your company, just cover up the responses and pretend that a buyer has raised some objections during your presentation, and come up with some good responses.
Objection: I have been purchasing from your competition for many years, and we are happy with their coffee and services.
Response 1: Mr./Mrs. Buyer, I think loyalty is fantastic. I know how you feel. Some of my best clients had felt that way too, until they allowed me to offer them a free trial of our new single-cup multi-beverage brewer. Our competition does not have this equipment, and I want you and your employees to enjoy it for a week, on me. I will include all of our single-cup coffees, iced teas, and hot cappuccino and latte selections.
Response 2: Loyalty is very good, but sometimes it limits a company from seeing what is new in the industry that could save money and increase productivity. Our company has an exclusive on this new brewer; and the benefits are...
Response 3: Despite the fact that you have been buying from XYZ Coffee Service for many years, what would it take on my part for you to do business with our company? Is there anything that your current service is not providing to you that you have wanted?
Response 4: Miss Prospect, is there any way for you to place just a small order for products, and allow me to demonstrate to you how our uniformed and bonded drivers handle your order and treat you on delivery? I want to earn your business, before you consider giving me a larger order. Would that be fair?
Objection: I need more time to consider using you and your company for our company's refreshment services.
Response 1: May I ask what you need to think about? Is it our integrity or the reputation of our company, since you have not heard about us? If it is, I can refer you to several of our branded clients in the area, including IBM and the Jets training camp at the university here in town.
Response 2: I apologize if I have not explained our program thoroughly to you. What part of my offer is it that you are still concerned with? (Wait for answer.) Is this the only obstacle that is standing in the way of our doing business together?
Response 3: How about we think about it together? What are your concerns? Do you see value in what I have offered to you? (Get buyer to open up and give you the ammunition to answer the hidden concerns).
Response 4: Is there something that I have not addressed that could assist you in making a decision today?
Objection: We can't afford your services.
Response 1: Mr. Prospect, why do you feel that way? (Let the buyer tell you what is not affordable.) Then explain why you feel the company can, in fact, afford your services. Say, "If I could show you how to afford my services, would you place your first order?" If the answer is "Yes," you then ask the decision-maker for a list of all the products the company is currently purchasing from its current coffee break supplier, and you see whether you can save them money by quoting on a larger purchasing volume of supplies. You can then offer to apply any savings to that part of your services that the prospect said was unaffordable.
Response 2: Mr. Prospect, how far away in pricing are we? (Wait for answer. If it's reasonable, proceed:) If I can call my sales manager and explain to him what I have to do to be more competitive in order to get your business, will you go with our services if we are close in pricing, or the same?
Educating your sales team with information on how to answer objections, and ammunition for using that information, is a key to landing more accounts. You should make "answering objections" part of your sales training on a regular basis. Have each of your salespeople prepare one or two objections that they have recently encountered in the field, and have all of them discuss their best answers to overcome each objection mentioned.
I would love to hear what some of your sales objections have been, along with your answers. I can be reached by calling (516) 241-4883 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association.