It’s all in the understanding
The toughest aspect of any print sales position is overcoming your prospect’s objections. Whether you are a small quick printer or a large commercial shop, today’s print buyers are more discerning than ever.
As many experienced print sales people know, most sales calls are met with at least one objection. As a sales professional, it’s necessary to understand and be prepared for the most common objections. Knowing every detail and feature of your shop/service is important but getting down into the true core of the client’s objection is equally crucial.
With an understanding of your customer’s wants and needs and your offerings, you are armed to tackle any objection based on budget, authority, need, time, and value. Sales is inherently associated with objections, but most can be overcome by building a sense of credibility, trust, and reframing the way your buyer sees what you’re selling.
Above all, remember that your goal is to understand the objection and convince the potential buyer that they can’t, or shouldn’t, live without your print firm. When it comes down to it, print sales is about showing your service in the way that is best-suited to the conversation.
IMPORTANT: Understand what an objection really is
According to Boundless.com, sales objections can be defined as statements or questions raised by the prospect which can indicate an unwillingness to buy. The objections of customers include but are not limited to objections to prices, products, services, the company, time, or competition.
AspireFor President, and 30+ year print sales veteran Bill Farquharson says this about objections:
An objection is a request for more information—I wish I could claim this one as my own but I must credit this outstanding definition to Wikipedia. An objection is not a roadblock and should not stop you. Hear an objection as the customer saying three words: “Tell me more.”
Many sales reps hear the objection, disqualify the prospect, and move on as quickly as possible. In doing so, they may miss a tremendous sales opportunity.
To kill an objection, start by changing the way you think, and know that an objection is now a chance for you to start building trust.
Another print company can do it cheaper
This objection is most likely your fault.
You read that right. While that sounds harsh, it is the true reality of the situation. When your prospect throws the price objection at you, you did not do a good enough job of selling your value. Concerns about pricing also can go deeper than just getting it cheaper elsewhere. So it’s up to you to figure out what the true reason is for their indecision. Maybe try something like this:
“In today’s world we can almost always get something cheaper. I’ve found that when smart people invest their money they look for three things: the finest quality, the best service and lowest price. However, it’s an undeniable truth no company can consistently offer all three. Two maybe, but not all three. Which two of those three things–quality, price, or service–do you think will most important for your long-term plans?”
The brush-off objection
Whenever you hear statements like, “Just send me some information,” or “I’m too busy right now,” or even, “Not interested,” you are most likely getting the brush-off. This objection can vary on its intent depending on when it comes up in your conversation. If it comes up before you have had the chance to deliver your value proposition, it’s definitely a brush-off. If it comes afterward, but before you’ve had the chance to ask qualification questions, there may be interest, but the prospect isn’t yet willing to talk about it further. No matter where it comes up in the process, it’s the rep’s duty to uncover the true story behind the objection. Remember, they may not understand your value or, they simply are not ready.
If it happens before you’ve delivered your value proposition, you can try something like, “Can we take less than a minute for me to explain what we do, and you can then decide if it’s worth a follow-up?”
If the objection happens before qualification, you can try this. “May I ask you a couple of questions right now to better understand how we might be able to help you?”
If the objection occurs after the qualifying questions, you can try, “Most of the time, people find it more valuable to see how we can help by reviewing some samples and having us provide you with a plan of action for your printed materials.”
The owner has a “friend” that is a printer.
We have all heard this objection before. It seems that every print buyer has a friend in the business or maybe the owner knows someone. Think about it, have you done business with friends before? Has it always gone well? Do you often feel like you are walking on eggshells when you are producing print for a friend? Well, the same thing can happen with the print buyer.
This objection can be difficult to get through, but it is not impossible. If your prospect hits you with the “have a friend in the business,” objection maybe say, “Hey, so do I! (Maybe give them a smile in person). But you know, there’s an old saying–I don’t know how true it is–that sometimes friendship and business don’t mix. If you bought from a friend, you might not want to say anything if you weren’t happy with the purchase because it might damage the friendship. With me you can get on my case until you get exactly what you want.”
The “complacency” objection
Print sales representatives often hear the “complacency” objection early in the process. It often manifests itself as, “I’m ok with the way things work right now.”
Complacency or an actual fear of change can lead potential print buyers to dismiss your service before they’ve learned what you can do for them and their business. Complacency is often a result of not being well-informed about a problem or opportunity. When a prospect seems complacent, take the extra time to describe the pervasive problem or opportunity in depth.
Present them with examples or even better, case studies of competitors or peers that have made the recent jump to your company. Fear of change is a natural reaction, so you will need to calm the customer’s concern by showing examples of positive change within the client’s industry to provide a boost of confidence.
Give them the old two-step
In sales, many of the most common objections are simply quick, knee-jerk reactions from busy people who don’t yet see the value in working with you or your printing firm. Nearly all objections at the prospecting phase of the sales process can be separated into two categories: 1) I don’t understand the value and I’m too busy to think about it. 2) I’m not ready for a buying conversation.
When faced with objections, there are two key best practices to apply:
- Articulate value early and concisely. You can mitigate the first objection above by simply respecting the prospect’s time and explaining what you want early in your outreach. Every email, voicemail, and phone interaction should lead with an assurance that you won’t take much time, followed by a short (30 seconds or less, or one to two sentences), buyer-centric, and customized value proposition. For more on the value proposition, again, check out our white paper.
- Don’t sell your service, sell the next step. It does not matter if the prospect is ready for a buying conversation yet. It’s possible they’ve only just learned about you and your printing company from this call, email or visit. Don’t get into a product conversation yet. If they ask a product question, recommend that you show them in the next meeting.