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Thank You For Objecting

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15 Aug 2019

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Thank You For Objecting“I’m not sure this is going to help me.”

“Why does it cost that much?”

“No.”

“Do you guarantee results?”

“Why can Bob do it for half the cost?”

Sound familiar?

Anyone who’s been in the client space for at least a hot minute knows the feeling.

Going into a call, presenting your pitch deck, or sending over a legal document—only to be stopped dead in your tracks.

Objection!

That single 3-syllable 9-letter word that’s enough to trigger PTSD…
SEO CatNot too long ago, someone asked me on an AMA what common objections I hear while presenting a proposal.

I struggled to answer as I don’t face any common objections.

That’s because I don’t handle objections, I solve them.

Objection handling is bullshit.

Objection Handling

Objection “handling” is for masochists.

Just look at some of the top Google search results for objection handling:

From Hubspot:

“Objection handling is when a prospect presents a concern about the product/service a salesperson is selling, and the salesperson responds in a way that alleviates those concerns and allows the deal to move forward.”

And from Close:

“To master handling objections, you need to prepare responses to common rebuttals from your leads to regain the upper-hand.”

N.B. I don’t have any issues with either article based on the intent of those articles. Close’s article is actually quite helpful (I love you, Steli ❤️) 

Objection handling paints the scene of a western standoff.

You vs. the prospect.

Whoever’s quickest to the draw wins.

Your prospect asks a question—your rebuttal is masterfully crafted after hours of research and practice.

Another question is asked—you respond masterfully once again.

“Another one,” DJ Khaled whispers into your prospect’s ear.

But, you’re prepared.

Now, you’re Neo in the Matrix, dodging bullets while your prospect’s “objection-shooter” runs low.

 

The dust settles, you’re bruised—but alive.

You fire back.

You hit your target, the prospect concedes and signs on the dotted line.

An interesting scenario, for sure. But why go through all the theatrics when there’s a faster and easier solution?

 

The above articles—and every other one I read—are about handling a known problem every time the issue presents itself. But why not solve that problem before it even arises?

If a fan keeps blowing out your candle, do you keep relighting it—or do you move the fucking fan?

Objection handling is Q&A—not P&S (Problem and Solution).

Another issue with handling objections is that not all objections are clear questions.

“The price is too high” is a clear objection.

But how do you interpret abstract signals like grunts, snorts, “hmm”s, tapping on the phone, or clicking a pen?

All could mean they think the price is too high, the pitch is too long, or the information is too confusing—without explicitly saying it.

In my opinion, for every clear objection you get, there are five abstract ones you probably missed.

So, how can we address objections in a better way?

Objection Solving

Objection solving, when done correctly, nearly eliminates the need for objection handling.

You won’t need to rely on predetermined responses to common questions. Instead, you’ll have already answered every common question. Sometimes without having to say a word.

Every objection you get offers you an opportunity to improve your processes to make sure it never comes up again.

You solve the problem.

Just to make things crystal clear: Objection solving is all about addressing a question before it’s asked and taking action to ensure you never face the same objection again.

Objection solving also reduces the amount of time you need to spend going over a proposal or pitch deck.

You’ll say more with less.

It’s not just about handling the objection on the close either.

Objection solving starts with how the prospect found you, the discovery call, the visuals in your pitch deck, the framing in your documents, and everything in between.

The How-To of Objection Solving

The specific objections you solve and how you solve them is ultimately up to you. I’ll share real-world examples of objections I’ve solved to give some extra context in the next section.

1. Set-Up

To get started, write down every objection, no, or roadblock you can remember getting.

For example:

  • The prospect spent fifteen minutes asking basic questions about SEO terms during the discovery call.
  • “The price is too high!”
  • “I thought that SEO would include social media marketing…”

2. Find The Root of The Objection

We need to get to the root of the objection.

Let’s focus on the most common objection: price.

There are hundreds of reasons why a prospect might object to price.

Here are just a few:

  • Offered a lower price by someone else
  • More than they paid their last agency
  • More than they budgeted for
  • Worried about how little you charge
  • More than they felt they’d have to pay
  • Insufficient cash flow to support the price
  • Worried about getting an ROI with that price

It may also be that you’re letting too many “bad fit” prospects get to the proposal stage. Or that you’re revealing pricing and rates at the wrong time.

Almost every one of these objections warrants a different solution.

A prospect that doesn’t have the cash flow to support your offer has a very different price objection from the prospect who’s worried about ROI.

Even if they both say, “You charge too much.”

Chances are, you’ve encountered price objections with various root causes—we all have.

Repeat step 2 for each root objection. Sometimes one solution will work for multiple root objections.

Let’s move on to the next step using these two root objections as examples, both of which have relatively simple solutions:

  • Worried about getting sufficient ROI at the quoted price
  • Insufficient cash flow to support the price

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3. Solve The Objection

Some root objections have simple and straightforward solutions, whereas some require a bit more creativity.

There’s no one answer for most objections. Based on your personality, beliefs, and your analytical, technical, or other skills—you may resolve an objection differently than I would.

The goal of solving the objection is to address the issue before it’s even brought up—so that it never arises.

Let’s start with our first example:

  • Worried about getting sufficient ROI at the quoted price.

When I pitch a retainer, I use a slide deck on a screen-shared call. Therefore, the way that I would solve this objection would be to add additional slides showing ROI data.

These slides could highlight metrics such as keyword search volume, estimated CTR, and use the prospect’s LV/LTV to predict the value of certain keywords or a group of keywords—or possibly even the Total Addressable Market (TAM).

Another method is to use the LV/LTV, and project how many leads/sales are needed to reach specific ROI numbers.

Finally, you could create case studies relevant to the prospect’s industry that show ROI.

Of course, this may lead to additional objections related to whether or not the prospect believes you can generate the results which will lead to that ROI—giving you yet another objection to solve.

So how about our other objection?

  • Insufficient cash flow to support the price.

To me, this is easily solvable during a discovery call. Simply ask your prospect if they’ve already considered their budget and whether or not they have the cash flow to support that.

4. Test

Just because you think you came up with a good solution, doesn’t mean you did.

Perhaps your method of showing potential ROI is too confusing, takes too long, or isn’t clear enough.

To truly know if you’ve solved the objection, you have to go through the sales process. See if you’re still being asked the same question as before—and if it still has the same root meaning when asked.

For every common objection you face, repeat steps 1-3.

Just like objection handling, objection solving is an ongoing process.

Tweak your solutions, and come up with new ones for new objections.

When faced with a new objection, before rushing to objection solving, consider if it’s unique to the prospect?

Is this something you think you’ll be faced with again in the future either verbally or from an unspoken objection with another prospect?

If not, it may not be worth the effort of adding it to your objection solving process.

Real World Examples

Now that you understand the basic process, let’s finish with some actual objection solving that I’ve done for my agency.

Not all of these examples will be relevant to you, and you may disagree with my solutions. This section simply serves to highlight different types of objections and ways to solve them.

Begin With a Unique Engagement

I’ve talked about this many times before. It was actually the basis to my talk in Chiang Mai leading up to CMSEO2018

You can watch the full talk here.

Our acquisition process for just about every channel is:
Acquisition ProcessIn brief, the Blueprint is a one-time engagement used to audit and create a strategy for the client.

Pitching retainers has become much easier as we’re now able to present many hours worth of findings on precisely what we need to do to be successful. There are a dozen deliverables during the Blueprint process.

The Blueprint shows off our expertise. It creates a clear plan of action beyond a basic overview. And it also serves as a trip-wire/value ladder offer.

The Blueprint also allows us to pitch pricing more accurately.

All of which has solved numerous problems and objections.

Before the Blueprint, I closed maybe 70-80% of retainers. Now, it’s almost 100%, with only one prospect deciding not to move forward after going through the Blueprint stage.

 

Revise Pitch Deck Verbiage

During a proposal for Google Ads and SEO, the words “management” and “maintenance” came up several times.

“Management” on the advertising front—while explaining ad management—and “maintenance” while talking about the daily, weekly, and monthly checks we do to rank trackers, analytics, Ahrefs, etc.

The prospect got hung up on those words and understood them to mean (mostly with “ad management’”) that the total amount of work needed from us after a month or two dropped. So shouldn’t the retainer be lowered then as well?

To avoid such confusion in the future, I changed some of the verbiage throughout the pitch deck to words like clean up, set up, improve, and grow.

Talk numbers on the onboarding call

I’ve found that not everyone wants to discuss budget or their LTV numbers during a discovery call.

This reluctance made planning a strategy around their budget and projecting ROI complete guesswork.

Instead, we now ask these questions during the Blueprint onboarding call.

At this point, they’ve already paid us, which makes talking numbers much easier—for whatever reason.

Now, we’re able to handle any budget issues upfront and plan strategies around their goals while knowing what they are able to invest.

This approach has solved most price objections for us.

We’re also able to offer multiple retainer options based on how aggressive the client wants to be in respect to their goals and budget.

Abstract Objections

I mentioned abstract objections, like sighs or grunts, previously. Understanding what causes an abstract objection takes some ingenuity.

In one of my previous proposal templates, I noticed that the portion of the call where I explained the details of the campaign elicited the most abstract objections. Reactions such as typing, tapping on the phone, sighs, pen clicks, etc.

So, I came to two conclusions: either this section is too long or too technical.

This realization led me to redo the entire template from scratch, making it shorter and less technical, while still maintaining the major talking points of the proposal.

Instead of having a section dedicated to testimonials, I moved the testimonials to the header slides.

This cut down on the number of slides and changed how I interact with these slides to give prospects time to read the testimonial.

Success Stories SEO

Video Audits

I love video audits.

Regardless of how a prospect finds me, they get a personal and custom video audit going over their SEO or Google Ads account.

Most of the businesses we’re working with have limited online marketing knowledge and are hearing a lot of different things from a lot of different people.

Sending a video audit serves as an introduction, helps build trust, and shows expertise. It helps solve objections related to whether or not the prospect believes we’re able to help them solve their problems.

Personally, I don’t buy into “don’t do anything for free” or “proprietary methods.”

I often hear that no other agency did this, or if they did, that they failed to explain things as clearly as in-depth.

Video audits have made closing on the Blueprint easier. Some prospects are sold on working with us even before we have our first call—simply because of a video audit.

Final Thoughts

Don’t just handle objections, solve them.

If you can solve objections, you avoid having to handle the same questions time and time again.

By solving objections, you’ll improve your discovery calls, proposals, documents, and every other interaction a prospect has with you before they’re a client.

Then, the only objections you’ll have to handle are

  • Objections unique to the prospect
  • Objections you haven’t previously come up against, but may again in the future. Endeavor to solve the objection after you encounter it.
  • An objection that’s unlikely ever to come up again. In this case, handle it this one time and forget about it.

With objection solving, you’re left only with objections that really matter to each individual prospect.

If you’re a potential client, a unique objection lets me know what really matters to you, so I can address it.

So, thank you for your objection!

But hey, I’m just some dude on the internet, and this is my $0.02

How do you handle objections from prospects? Do you try to objection solve? Let us know in the comments!

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Thank You For Objecting

JAROD SPIEWAKMarketer by day, frustrated programmer by night. Jarod is the Lead Strategist & Founder of Blue Dog Media, a digital agency helping service businesses make more money.

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