Six Steps for Dealing with Customer Objections

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No one likes rejection. And rejection can be especially painful when you are deep in the sales process. While the Castus team has successfully launched hundreds of products in markets all around the world, we have faced our fair share of challenges along the way. In our experience as International Business Consultants, by following these six steps you’ll be more equipped to deal with customer objections and more likely to close the sale.

1)    Pause. When a customer objects to your solution, your first instinct might be to immediately rebut their objection without giving proper thought to their concern. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and think critically about what they are saying before you formulate a response. Often, this brief pause will allow you to interpret a deeper meaning.

2)    Restate the objection. After the customer has finished sharing their concern, take a moment to digest it and restate it in your own words. This will ensure you are fully understanding their thoughts and it will allow you to put a positive outlook on the situation. For example, if your customer says, “I have heard your service is terrible” you might try restating their objection as, “It sounds like you have concerns about the quality of our work?” The goal is to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

3)    Clarify. After you and the customer have identified their objection, you can now spend time probing for deeper meaning. Often, customers are unable to articulate the full reasoning behind their objection. As a result, you’ll need to dig a little deeper with questions like, “What specifically concerns you?” or “Do you have any data you can share regarding your concerns?” This will allow you to address the core of the objection and ensure you aren’t missing a bigger issue.

4)    Answer the Objection. It can certainly be intimidating when a customer objects to your solution, but it is critical to fully acknowledge and address the objection to the best of your ability. Attempting to dismiss a customer’s concerns sets the entire sales process, and ultimately your partnership, up for failure. By leaning into the customer’s objection you’ll demonstrate that you value their thoughts and you care about finding the right solution to their problem. It can be incredibly impactful to offer real-world examples of how you have addressed similar problems with previous customers. You can even offer to provide references if you have the ability to do so.

5)    Confirm. If you feel you have fully addressed your customer’s objections, then you should be able to confidently ask them to confirm as much. Don’t over think this step. By simply asking, “Have I adequately addressed your concern?” you should get a direct answer that will tell you whether you have more work to do, or if its time to move on to closing the sale.

6)    Transition. It’s important to address customer concerns, but it’s just as critical to keep moving through the sales process and towards closing the sale. Before jumping straight to “the close,” make a smooth transition. Take a moment to thank your customer for openly sharing their concern(s) and acknowledge that you appreciate their transparency. By taking a thoughtful approach, you will again demonstrate the fact that you value your customer’s input, which will ultimately build trust in your partnership.

The above steps assume that your customer is being honest in their responses and not providing “false” or “phony” objections. False objections can be incredibly frustrating, because they are not based in reality or fact. The good news is that by following the same steps outlined above, you will eventually identify the fact that your customer doesn’t actually have an objection, they are simply unwilling to purchase your solution – which actually means they aren’t a qualified customer to begin with!

For more advice on how to navigate objections, identify false objections, or build an impactful Sales Process, contact Castus via email (hello@castusglobal.com) or visit our website: http://www.castusglobal.com/

Three Critical Areas to Consider When Looking for a Distribution Partner

Leveraging distribution partners to accelerate your international expansion can be both an efficient and explosive way to accomplish growth goals. But it’s important to consider all aspects of distributor relationships and how they will impact not only your growth, but also your brand.

Consider these three critical areas when vetting current or potential distribution partners and you will likely save time and money.

capabilities

1)    Are they capable? This seems like an obvious question to ask when considering a distribution partnership. But too often brands are chasing a purchase order, or the opportunity to enter a new market, and they forget to consider the fundamentals. Can the distribution partner buy, warehouse, distribute, promote, and service your products?

This question should be approached from two angles. Financially speaking, it is important to confirm that any potential partner can fund not only an initial order, but follow-up orders as well. The last thing you want is to have a successful product in market, without the ability to capitalize on demand.

Separate from the financial aspect of a partnership is whether a partner has the physical means to support your business. Do they have enough warehouse space? Can they store products in a safe and clean environment? Do they have delivery AND reverse logistics procedures for your products?

Again, these questions seem obvious, but I have seen many partnerships initiated without site visits, which means you should be very deliberate with your questions regarding the physical logistics of a potential relationship. 

connections

2)    Do they have the proper connections? One of the main values of partnering with a distributor is their ability to enter a market quickly and professionally. There can sometimes be a miss-conception that distribution partners are nothing more than sales reps with a warehouse. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Many distributors may employ sales reps, but they themselves are not the sales reps. Rather, an effective distribution partner will have strong relations with key channels throughout their market – at the corporate level. 

There is still a critical need for an effective sales team to sell your brand, but having established relationships at a higher level, means your distribution partner will likely be able to speed the sales process for their team and build support for your products throughout (retail) organizations in the form of favorable terms and / or funding. A well-rounded, and effective, distribution partner will not only have resources in key businesses areas, they will know how to leverage them for your mutual success.

3)    Do they have a unique skill set? By definition, all distributors are businesses. And generally speaking, they follow a similar construct of buying, selling, and promoting products in their local markets. But not all distributors approach business the same way. Some potential partners are focused on high-velocity, quick turns, and big numbers in order to make their business work. Other distributors may work with a limited number of brands, but invest more time and energy in the “brand building” aspect of their products. Neither strategy wrong, but each offer different approaches to how you will structure your partnership, and ultimately your growth in new markets.

unique skill set

One of my personal experiences was with a distributor that did not operate in the same product category as my company's brand. But the distributor was masterful at handling innovative technology and building foreign brands in their home market. We chose to work with this partner instead of others who were in the same product category and we were thrilled with the results. Our partner was not the obvious choice, but because of a unique skill set, they were the perfect choice for us.

Ultimately, the saying “nothing replaces hard work” holds true when considering a distribution partner. If you are diligent with your process, deliberate with your questioning, and you exercise good judgement while considering the questions above - you will be on the path to finding the right partner for your brand.

For more advice on how to maximize your distribution selection process or build an effective International Business Development strategy, contact Castus via email (hello@castusglobal.com). For ongoing tips, trends, and news - visit our website: http://www.castusglobal.com.

Grow Your Business in 2018 With These Two Strategic Moves

Based on headlines about the changing landscape of U.S. retail during 2017, it would be easy to reach the conclusion that Amazon has created chaos and the days of brick and mortar stores are over. The reality is that chaos creates opportunity and there are many (big) retailers that are not only surviving – they’re thriving. As such, the first strategic move brands need to make in order to see growth in 2018 is “pick a winning partner and get behind them.”

Sporting goods giant, Dick’s will open 150 stores by 2018 and general merchandise retailer Burlington has seen positive same-store sales growth since 2012; most recently with 4.5% YoY comps in 2016.

This is not to say that all brick and mortar retailers should (and will) be seeing growth this year. Some retail giants have made questionable decisions and overextended themselves in a difficult time (i.e. Toys “R” Us bankruptcy), but clearly Dick’s and Burlington have found a winning formula. They are proving that the strong – and smart – horses will win the race and stand the test of time in a chaotic and changing landscape.

Yes, Amazon is huge. Yes, Amazon will keep getting bigger. But the reality is that online retail accounts for only 10% of total sales in the U.S. According to a 2017 study by eMarketer, consumers still prefer to shop in-store vs. online in most categories.   

Find a retail partner that has positioned itself to weather the storm, by creating a unique experience for its consumers that cannot be replicated online.  Pick a winning partner and get behind them in 2018.

The second strategic move brands need to make in order to see growth in 2018 is “think globally.”

For many years the U.S. has been the leading market for consumerism. We have been the single largest retail market in the world, while 95% of the population lives outside our borders. But that is about to change. The Diplomat recently reported that China is forecasted to become the largest consumer market in the world from now, until at least 2030.

China’s driving force for this growth is their sheer volume of buyers. It is estimated that by 2020 China will have 400 million “mainstream consumers”. That’s more people than the entire U.S. population - with disposable money and looking for ways to spend it. 

But China isn’t the only market where brands should be focused. Increased wealth, growing eCommerce, and improved logistics networks will make markets like Europe, the Middle East, India, and South America more accessible and more enticing to U.S. brands.

Yes, you should be focused on “winning at home” with a strong strategy for the U.S., market, but there is massive opportunity outside our borders. This year, think globally and you’ll stand a better chance to see long-term growth, as well as short-term gains.

For more advice on how to design the right strategic sales plan or build your business outside the U.S., contact Castus via email (hello@castusglobal.com) or contact us via our website: http://castusglobal.com/contact/