Every contact center encounters its fair share of hurdles on the path to success. Why struggle in silence when you can face the problem head on?
Balto is here to help.
Fix-It Friday targets contact center leaders’ biggest frustrations with solution-focused content. Keep an eye out every other Friday as we tackle a new topic.
This week, we’re discussing a feat that’s tough for even veteran agents to master: overcoming objections.
Why Is Overcoming Objections Important?
The road to most sales is paved with objections. Agents must handle objections in order to close sales, but that’s not always easy.
For context, 86% of reps say they care about the challenges customers face, but 42% also say they spend too much time discovering a customer’s needs. On the other side of the conversation, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs, but customers report that only 34% of companies actually live up to that expectation.
So, although customers expect to be understood and agents care about customers’ objections, many reps feel they’re simply spending too much time trying to understand those concerns. This may be why nearly half of all agents fail to follow up after the first call, even though the average customer says “no” four times before finally saying “yes.”
Simply put, overcoming objections is an essential part of most sales. Agents may not want to spend the time it takes to handle objections, but it’s the only way to earn more wins.
Do Agents Really Have That Much Trouble Overcoming Objections?
Considering that cold calling only has an average success rate of around 2%, it’s clear that agents aren’t exactly knocking it out of the park when it comes to overcoming objections on every call.
Even accounting for the fact that some industries fare better than others at closing, only about 24% of salespeople exceeded their quotas last year.
If you boil lost opportunities down to their most basic causes, failing to overcome objections is a huge piece of the puzzle, and one that frustrates many managers.
So, as close rates remain low and the disconnect between customer expectations and agent performance remains wide, how can contact center leaders better help agents overcome objections for more meaningful interactions resulting in more sales? We’ll explore the options.
Finding the Fix for Lost Opportunities
Objections are an expected part of sales calls, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to tackle. If your reps have trouble overcoming objections, try implementing these fixes.
Get to the Root of The Problem
You may be acutely aware of the fact that your agents fail to overcome objections, but do you know why?
Balto Directors of Sales Rob Westervelt and Tim Claudin say that uncovering the root cause can help managers and agents alike.
“Is it that they don’t like the talk track that they’re given to overcome that objection? That can be part of it. Is it that they just get really nervous and they don’t know how to handle it? Or is it something else? I think that’s the key part for managers. You can find generalities in anything, but we need to take it to the next layer of, what specifically do they struggle with when overcoming objections that you can fix?”Rob Westervelt, Director of Sales
Just as you can’t help agents overcome objections if you don’t understand why they’re failing to overcome them in the first place, Tim says agents can’t face the toughest objections if they don’t take time to unpack what makes them so tough.
“Step one is acknowledgement of the [objections] that make you super uncomfortable. When I was an SDR, I literally wrote a list of objections that make me squirm. And it was like, ‘Why? What is it about these? Is it that I don’t feel like I have a good response? I used a response that floundered? I don’t actually know the answer, and I’m just hoping these don’t come up?’ Attack it … It’s okay if those make you uncomfortable, but seek out the answers.”Tim Claudin, Director of Sales
Challenge yourself and your agents to look beyond the obvious problem to find the source. Help reps develop a list of the objections they struggle with most. From there, you can work with them to find rebuttals they’re comfortable using.
Once you’ve worked with agents to uncover the objections that make them most uncomfortable or to understand what it is about objections that they find so challenging in general, you can help them improve from a place of greater understanding.
Struggle Through the Scenario and Develop a System
Even if you remind agents how to overcome a specific objection 20 times, there’s simply no guarantee they’ll remember that coaching when the time comes to implement it.
One way to simulate the stress and discomfort of an objection on a live call is to role play. This forces agents to find their way through the conversation, even if they don’t like handling the objection.
“Don’t let yourself start and stop in a role play, where you’re like, ‘Actually, hold on. Let me think for a second.’ That’s not real life! Struggle through it! Just get through it. You have to do that.”Tim Claudin, Director of Sales
If this is repeated often enough, agents will eventually develop methods for overcoming even the most unnerving objections. One potential system for repeatable success in objection handling is AIOA, or Agree, Isolate, Overcome, Ask.
The AIOA method of objection handling essentially instructs agents to approach objections from a place of understanding and curiosity rather than argument.
Time allowing, try to implement roleplaying into your coaching sessions on a regular basis. Use the objections that your agents struggle with most and force them to stay engaged in the scenario until they find a repeatable system for handling those concerns.
Ask Good Discovery Questions
Fumbling your way through the darkness is never efficient. That’s as true in sales as it is in life. It’s easier for agents to find their way to a win when they’ve illuminated customers’ needs during discovery.
“Overcoming objections and using strong rebuttals can be a byproduct of really good discovery. If you’ve discovered well, even if it’s a 30-second, minute-long discovery, usually in your rebuttal you can hearken back to things you’ve already found out.”Tim Claudin, Director of Sales
Agents may be eager to move the conversation along so they can try to close, but encourage them to stay engaged during the discovery phase.
Help agents sharpen their discovery questions and coach them on using that information to handle objections. Encourage them to keep a running list of what’s most important to a customer. These priorities can be valuable selling points later on.
Remember — the majority of customers not only want to be understood, they expect it. Good discovery questions not only help agents overcome objections, they also help your business meet customers’ expectations.
Provide Real-Time Support to Minimize Nerves
The inability to overcome objections often comes down to nerves. Whether agents are nervous about pushing back on complaints or they’re just not comfortable with the way the script instructs them to handle a concern, this lack of confidence costs businesses.
One way to bolster agents’ confidence is to guide them through pivotal moments with tried and true flows of conversation. While we’ve already discussed potential fixes that can be implemented through traditional coaching sessions, an alternative is to invest in technology that addresses the problem while it’s actually happening.
Solutions like Balto’s Real-Time Guidance and Coaching will automatically prompt agents with the best phrases for overcoming specific objections. If a rep doesn’t love the way a rebuttal is worded, Balto’s intent-based voice processing allows them to paraphrase. This enables a more natural, comfortable response.
When a rep needs extra support, Real-Time Coaching allows you to step in and offer live insight via chat. You can remind agents to harken back to discovery, encourage them to struggle through the objection rather than giving up, or simply let them know they’re doing a great job.
With Real-Time, agents never feel stranded without support on calls, so the nerves of objection handling finally fall away.
Pick Your Fix, Overcome More Objections
If you’ve spent hours upon hours coaching agents to overcome the same stubborn objections, you may start to feel hopeless. But rest assured, each of your agents has the potential to perform better and close more when you apply the right fix.
Check back every other Friday for insight into a new topic, and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s a contact center issue you’d like to learn how to fix.