Mike Montague: Welcome to the “How to Succeed Podcast.” The show that shows you how to get to the top and stay there. This is “How to Succeed at Preventing Objections.” The show is brought to you by Sandler Training. The worldwide leader in sales, management and customer service training. For more information on Sandler Training, including free wi-papers, webinars and more, visit Sandler.com and look under the resources tab. I’m your host Mike Montague and my guest this week is Joe Ippolito He is a Sandler trainer from Boston. And we’re gonna talk to him about how to succeed at preventing objections. Joe, welcome to the show. Tell me a little bit about objections and why you picked this for a topic and who should be paying attention today?
Joe Ippolito: You know it’s hard to pick amongst all my favorite Sandler topics and strategies that we have in concepts. But I really believe that today’s topic is most relevant to everybody because it’s so much easier to avoid stalls and objections than learning how to handle them. And I think that if we could do that it’s just gonna make for a better sales call, better relationships with our clients and prospects.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I know, I’ve heard Dave Mattson do a webinar and stuff on lies buyers tell us, preventing games, and just once you’re into the game it’s almost too late. There are some things we can do, but obviously avoiding challenges ahead of time is the key. Tell me a little bit about this. Everybody wants to overcome stalls and objections. But really, I think you’re changing the game here about preventing them. So tell me about that.
Joe Ippolito: Yeah, I think you know, over the course of my years with Sandler and working with thousands of salespeople and sales managers. A consistent area of concern you always see is, they want to improve their stall and objection handling skills. You know, when a prospect says things like “We’re not quite ready.” Or “You’re price is too high.”, “We’ve decided to stay where we are.” I could go on. It just seems like that’s a big focus of a lot of sales organizations. And I remember going back when I was a VP of sales before joining Sandler, a large consumer products company. We didn’t have a formal sales process. But the one thing we worked on, to improve on as a team was objection handling. And once I learned the Sandler methodology and being engaged with Sandler. It taught me instead of learning how to handle stalls and objections. Why don’t we really understand why they happen. And learn how to avoid them. It was really an epiphany Mike.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that. One of the things I love about Sandler training is we’ve really worked hard to solve the right end of the problem. Not treat the symptoms, but treat the cause. So let’s talk about that. And first, how does that shift our attitude? So if we’re trying to prevent objections rather than overcome them. What do we need to think about attitude wise?
Joe Ippolito: I think I would go back to one of our many Sandler rules. One of the ones that jump out to that point, Mike is, there’s no such thing as a sales person handling a prospect stalls and objections. There’s only one person qualified to do that, and that’s the prospect. And I think that one of the biggest problems in general is that, most sales people, most companies don’t have a system for selling. And when you think about it, whether it’s an accounting department or accounting leaders. I mean, they can refer back and have their generally accepted accounting principles. Manufacturers have processes and six sigma. Human resources have regulations in case law stipulating what to do and what not to do. But sales professionals, we don’t have anything. You get people from all over the world with different degrees, different backgrounds, different experiences. And they all come to the sales job with all this various information in how they approach things and different philosophies and different majors. And then we expect them to sell in a particular way. It’s impossible without a system or structure.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that, because I was thinking about the manufacturing thing. In manufacturing, they don’t say, hey how do we prevent the line from completely breaking down, and being a disaster or I mean, how do we fix that when it happens, they say “How do we prevent it.”
Joe Ippolito: Right. How do we build that so it doesn’t break down? And, of course, if it does, there’s tools, tactics, and strategies to handle it. But in sales, without that system or process, you’re not gonna have, not only the attitude, the mindset, but the tactics and strategies to even think about avoiding them from happening.
Mike Montague: Yeah, and the other thing that came to mind to me is, really the “Qualifying before you present” thing that we talk about in Sandler a lot. Most of these stalls and objections happen because we’re guessing a sales person. And we’re not finding out the right answer before we do something, right?
Joe Ippolito: That’s true Mike. It’s quite like a car crash. When a car crashes, the team that goes out to examine the site, doesn’t go to the spot of the crash itself. They go back to where the skidding starts to determine what happened. They even have a system for process for examining. So, to mention your point about qualification, if we don’t do the right things up front, we can expect a crash in the sales process towards the end, ie; stalls and objections.
Mike Montague: Yeah, so I think that takes us right into behavior. What are some of the right things to do on a call to prevent stalls and objections?
Joe Ippolito: I’m gonna start sounding like a broken record here, Mike. We need a system to follow. We need a framework, so we could manage that call from the very beginning. So I have a chance to get you a hello, get the guard down enough. And follow our methodology, so the stalls and objections don’t occur.
Mike Montague: So, for those people that don’t know the Sandler system, what are the steps and why are they in that order?
Joe Ippolito: So, the first thing we would do obviously in following the methodology and just paining it from a big 30,000 ft view because we know that within the seven steps I lay out, there’s probably 500 hours of training. Number one: how do we establish trust and report, so the prospect will get their guard down, be open and honest. I always like to define trust and report. Because it’s kind of a … You know, you ask a million people, you have a million different definitions. My definition is, my ability to get information from the prospect. Where they’ll share with me and answer the questions I ask. Number two is: getting mutual agreement on what we’re gonna cover, the framework for the meeting, my need and ability to ask them questions and target the questions to specific areas of their business that I maybe can help them with. Obviously, answer questions on their end. And just as importantly, lay a couple of outcomes that a typical meeting would have. And again, in establishing trust and report by always letting them know if it’s not a fit, we can part friends at that point or if there is, we’ve got some next steps. Number three: Our questioning strategy in finding emotional drivers which we call pain. Number 4: Once we get that, we go into the investment or budget step. Because, when you think about it, a prospect has to invest three things with us. Not only money but, they have to invest their time and resources. And maybe the ability to get in and out or relationships. So that’s an important thing to cover. Next step, understanding decision, people, and process. Finally going into fulfillment where we would present our solutions and then, post sale, avoiding any back outs, delays, and implementation. And even generating referrals.
Mike Montague: I think it’s really interesting that I don’t know how many people, even that have studies the Sandler selling system really know why those steps are in there and why they’re in that order. The first two, binding report and contracts are setting the stage so that you get the right answers and you don’t have any miscommunications, or really objections or stalls, when you get to the middle three steps, which are the qualifying steps. So you gotta figure out their need, their budget and how they’re gonna make a decision before you present the solution, which is in fulfillment. And then again, David Sandler did something really interesting which is, most people when they get the check, they get the heck out of there before anything else goes wrong. And he said “Hey, stick around for another five minutes, and prevent stalls, objections, back outs, buyers remorse and stuff like that afterward. Really every one of those seven things is put in there and in that order to prevent stalls and objections, right?
Joe Ippolito: I think you’re right on. How about if we give an example for the audience of where this may fall within the system that we just laid out.
Mike Montague: Yeah, that does it.
Joe Ippolito: Let’s say for instance a sales person is doing their thing and they show them a proposal and the prospect says “Your price is too high.” Now the traditional sales person without a system has learned to counter that by saying something like “Yes, but I think our quality is superior, and our customer service is second to none.” It’s almost like they punch, counter punch. But think about this … Was the real problem that the price was too high? Or maybe, was the problem that the sales person didn’t establish enough value. In our Sandler world, the term would be, They didn’t find enough pain to create value in the prospect’s mind. So, of course, their gonna yell at us “The price is too high.” Because we didn’t create value. There could be another example, maybe they proceeded without discussing budget or money tolerance before delivering a proposal. The prospect wouldn’t give them that information because they didn’t have trust and report, so they went back to their office, deployed resources from around the organization, they got marketing involved and manufacturing involved and they put this 40K proposal together, that was way out of the scope of what the prospect was expecting. They didn’t get the budget on the table. So, one example of many pieces of the system that they might have missed, are things that didn’t do that brought up that objection.
Mike Montague: I like it. So, as we moved at a technique here, and we might have gotten into it a little bit there because we talked about bad techniques. What are some of the good ones that you can use, or what does it sound like when you do it right?
Joe Ippolito: That’s a great question. There are two things here, right? So, if we can follow our system in an appropriate manner, we shouldn’t have to rely on a lot of tactics and strategies to address the objections once they happen. We would avoid it. It could create a value in that prospect’s mind by asking them questions about their problems, issues, challenges. By understanding their competitive environment. By understanding what they’re looking to do differently, I could avoid that.
Mike Montague: You know, Joe, I love that and I love one of the lines from our bootstrap selling book. Really selling people who have a problem, have a budget and have the decision making authority isn’t cheating, it’s the way sales should be. And I think a lot of people forget that or they don’t want to go prospect for sales that are that easy. And they keep trying to cram these ones that are difficult through the system. But even when we’re doing these things right, we still mess up right? Even if we’re running the perfect call. The prospect didn’t have all of the information or something changed and we still end up with stalls and objections. So, what do we do when we find ourselves facing one of these?
Joe Ippolito: You said something that resonated with me. I’ve been a sales professional my entire career. I’ve been with Sandler over 12 years now. And I still think I’m very far away from running a perfect sales call. And I also think that … I like to use sports analogies, and you think about when teams practice their plays. The plays are structured to score. But they don’t score all the time because they’ve got someone on the other side of that ball, trying to prevent them from scoring. So, let’s talk about what we would do at Sandler, with our tactics and techniques if the problem does arise. I’ll go back into a little role play. Let’s say the prospect says to us “Well, Hey Joe, we like what you have, but we’re really happy using Acme for our current products and services.” “We’ve been doing business with them for over ten years.” Now again, traditional sales would think “Okay, stall and objection, how do I counter this?” And they would say something like “Oh, yes Mr. Prospect, Acme is a very good company, but I think one of the things that makes ABC different, is that we have a very client centric approach and we build long-term relationships.” Again Mike, think of the phycology. “A Punch, Counter Punch.” Now in a million years, when has anyone heard a product respond and say “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize you were a client centric, let’s get that contract going right away.”
Mike Montague: Yeah, exactly. Or the competing sales person say “Oh, we have terrible customer service, you should go with them.”
Joe Ippolito: It just doesn’t happen. Many times that type of “Punch, Counter Punch.” Will elicit a defensive response. Real or not, for the prospect defending their current supplier. Which by the way, they might be friends and they might have been someone that they started doing business with. So, not effective, you ask me at Sandler “So, we get into this situation, what would we do?” So one of the things that we would deploy around Sandler rules and tactics is the art of reversing, having the prospect discover they maybe had a problem that they didn’t have. And let me tell you what that sounds like. Prospect says “Hey Joe, we’re happy using Acme for our current product and services, we’ve been doing business with them for over ten years.” Now I may respond. And again it may roll out different ways. I’d say something like “Mr. Prospect, I’ve heard some good things about them.” “Hey, I was curious though, when you guys get together and discuss areas that you would like to see Acme start doing, maybe even improve on, what do you guys talk about?” Now, out of the role, obviously, I put it back into the prospects lap. To now think about that question, and maybe discover and give me some things that I wouldn’t have had ordinarily. To see if I can truly differentiate and maybe find a fit with this prospect.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that, and the key with the reversing is to put overcoming the objection in their plate. If we were going to move away from Acme, what would it take for them to do that? And you tell me, does your brother in law over there have to retire. Would we have to be 20% lower. You come up with the scenario, not me because I would be guessing, right?
Joe Ippolito: Well, I think that ties back to the rule we spoke about before. The only person qualified to handle that is the prospect. And it’s with our ability to get them to talk through that. So, we can decide if we do have an opportunity or not. It’s surely not the “Punch, Counter Punch.” With most sales organizations and most salespeople try to approach and try to do with their prospects.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that. And again we’re talking with Joe Ippolito. He is one of our Sandler trainers in Boston. And again he’s been doing this for like 12 years, so he knows what he’s talking about, people. I hope you’re listening today. But let’s get to know you a little bit more Joe. How do you define success at this point in your career?
Joe Ippolito: I think it’s funny Mike, I’m not a systems guy at all. I was a very good traditional sales person and did pretty well with a strategy of winging it. When I discovered Sandler, I have to go back to the system, and the way I can define success is the system. And not just for me. This is for my clients and salespeople and sales organizations. The system gives you a process for ongoing improvement. And I think that one of the frustrating points I found in my career is that I plateaued early. I mean, I really reached the pinnacle without a roadmap to improve upon. And until I got the Sandler foundation in methodology, did I then get that process. So for me, success is improving every day. And I think not only me. If you talk to some of our other Sandler trainers … Somedays I am a black belt running a sales call. Sometimes, I’m a yellow belt. But I’ll tell ya, after that meeting, I can go back, look at the system, dissect and make sure I’m better the next time out.
Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that. So, what was the biggest lesson learned in your career or hurdle you had to get over?
Joe Ippolito: Oh boy, I go back to another Sandler rule. I was the guy that would never give up. Never quit. Always persevere. It came pretty close to leaving to burnout. When I really learned that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to kind of look back for a moment. Understand maybe what you could have done better. But then, look ahead and move on. And always keep looking ahead. I think that’s been the biggest lesson. It is okay to fail. Again, having a methodology system to look ahead. Practice, refine and work with, is the big differentiator.
Mike Montague: Yeah, and we might have just heard a sneak peek into your super power here. But if you had something that you lean on, when you absolutely need a win, what’s your GO TO move?
Joe Ippolito: I have to refer to one of the Sandler concepts that lives on top of the BAT triangle, under the attitude piece, and that’s, I’m always an I-10. And I think for the folks out there listening to this it’s having a high degree of self-esteem, where you’re basically bullet proof. And the role failure, the day to day challenges don’t interfere with the progress that you can make. The things that you need to do.
Mike Montague: What’s your favorite Sandler rule?
Joe Ippolito: Oh gosh, I think what maybe ties to our talk today is, if your toe hurts, you’re probably standing on your own foot. And I think that ties into stalls and objections. If you’re getting stalls and objections, and you’re constantly forced to deal and swat, maybe you’re the problem and not the prospect.
Mike Montague: Well, I think that’s a perfect way to wrap up. So, let’s do that and put everything together in a nice big bow for everybody. What’s one key attitude you would like people to have when trying to prevent objections?
Joe Ippolito: You, with the right approach, with the right methodology, you can prevent the stalls and objections from ever coming up in the first place.
Mike Montague: And what’s one key behavior to do?
Joe Ippolito: Follow a system. Get a system. Hopefully, it’s the Sandler system. Follow it, study it, abide by it. It will be a career changer.
Mike Montague: And the best technique to use?
Joe Ippolito: All of them, if needed. Follow the system. Make it about them, never you. Be inquisitive, be curious. And you’ll win.
Mike Montague: I like that, and I think that we might have gotten one to of the key insights here that we haven’t had on the podcast. Which is, all of the techniques are good when applied to the right situation. And all of them are bad when applied to the wrong situation.
Joe Ippolito: Exactly. I mean, sometimes you can be a black belt and you have every tool in the world to use. But if you’ve got that skill set, where you can knock that guy down in a few minutes, you don’t have to use all the skills and tools right?
Mike Montague: Right Joe, thanks for being on the show. For more information on this topic, you can follow us on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter at Sandler Training or get any of our free resources at sandler.com. And as always you can subscribe or leave us a review at I-tunes or Google Play. Thank you for listening and remember, Whatever you are, be a good one.
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