Guest Post by Martin Bissett
‘You’re too expensive!’
‘We like what you have to say but we don’t want to change accountants.’
‘We will do something with you but now is not the right time.’
‘We need to think about this, we’ll come back to you.’
Do any of these sound familiar? They are some of the most commonly used objections when businesses are not completely convinced that they should change from their current CPA firm to yours.
Objections are always a sign of interest and rarely if ever, do they constitute a final, immovable ‘no’. Yet that’s how we hear them. We are naturally averse to personal rejection and this business not liking our proposal enough to change their CPA firm on the basis of it, feels like personal rejection.
Except it’s not, it’s a rejection of the proposition, not the person.
If the potential client REALLY does not want to consider using our firm, there’s a big clue that will inform us of this, there will be no further meetings held and any that were already scheduled will be cancelled.
If we have avoided a cancellation therefore, SOME level of interest exists within our prospect, it may just not be enough to make them choose our firm.
Objections therefore, should be met with enthusiasm, as counter intuitive as that may sound. They are a sign of interest and should be treated not as blockades preventing us from winning a new client but rather as challenges which, if we can overcome them, will result in a deal.
So next time you are in that situation, remember the following two step code for handling objections:
Step 1 – What kind of objection am I being given here?
Step 2 – When should I deal with it?
For step 1, there are 4 main families of objections. They can be categorized as follows:
1. The Unconnected Objection
This is an objection that has nothing to do with the topic of conversation:
Hear: ‘Well, yes, your proposal has seemed to address the main areas of support required in our business but I’m going on vacation next week’
Think – Next weeks’ vacation has got little to do with today’s decision to appoint a new CPA firm.
Best Practice – Proceed to closure of the deal as originally intended.
Contingency – Set up an appointment there and then to revisit this proposal as soon upon their return as is possible.
2. The Misunderstanding Objection
This is where the prospective client demonstrates that they may not have fully understood the proposal:
Hear – ‘Well, what you say is very interesting but it seems like a lot more money for no extra benefit’
Think – Have we really submitted a like for like proposal that’s significantly more expensive than they currently pay or has the prospect not realised what they are getting for the fee?
Best Practice – Calmly re-explain how the needs and requirements of their business ,above and beyond their current service, have been met by your proposal and how all of that benefit is included in this modest monthly fee increase. They are simply investing in a CPA firm that can help the business to get to where it wants to go.
Contingency – Know your ‘walk-away’ price. The fee you won’t go below but only negotiate as an absolute last resort.
3. The Polite Objection
People will rarely say ‘no’ even when they mean it in professional situations. ‘No’ will often sound something like this:
Hear – ‘Well thank you very much for all your time and effort. We’ll give this some thought and will be in touch when we’ve made a decision’
Think – Uh-Oh, it was going so well. Why can’t they make a decision now? Why can’t we come back to meet with them so that they can? What have we failed to do that has left them so underwhelmed with our offering?
Best Practice – Honesty. What concerns have we not resolved yet?
Contingency – Arrange another meeting when they’ve had some thinking time but beware, they are likely to only cool off as time drags on.
4. The True Objection
This is the only one to be concerned about. The one where there is a real, valid, legitimate reason why they can’t go ahead.
Hear – ‘We love your proposal but the company is not going to make it through the summer’ or ‘We literally cannot source the funding to pay your fee for this service’
Think – These almost never happens but I’m ready for it.
Best Practice – Understand as much about this business as you can in your initial meetings to avoid being in this situation in the first place.
Contingency – Collaboration. What would it take to overcome this barrier?
When Should I Deal With An Objection?
For step 2 – there are three choices for when to handle an objection:
- Right Now – for when something is clearly important and we can’t progress until it is resolved.
- Later On – if it doesn’t seem so important and might even go away by itself if we leave it alone
- In Advance – Where we know we are going to meet resistance, we can preface that in our presentation of our proposal document and manage expectations of the prospective client accordingly.
All of these strategies are appropriate for ‘in the moment’ situations and as the old saying goes: ‘If after a few years you hear a new objection, you haven’t been listening properly in the past.’
All of these techniques can also be avoided having to be used by having better quality initial meetings with prospective clients and the employment of ‘Objection Prevention’ strategies which is the next step in developing this skill set.
Martin Bissett is the Managing Director of The Upward Spiral Partnership Ltd, or USP for short which is the UK based consulting firm that specialises in the implementation of professional selling skills in the Accounting Profession.
Previously, Martin served 10 years on the board of the UK’s leading provider of high quality new business appointments for Accountancy firms. There, he held the responsibility for the client base including 6 of the UKs Top 30 firms of accountants. He now consults with accounting firms the UK, Europe and the USA.
A Winner of the BIBA – Powered Person Of The Year Award; Martin assists Accounting firms to live what they’ve learned and understand selling in practice in order to become truly ‘pro-active’ firms who improve their client’s conditions and enjoy a measurable ROI, as a result.