Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset
From Alan Weiss
Volume 1 Number 3
A monthly newsletter with the objective of quickly and pragmatically helping consultants to improve their craft, results, and lives.
How to Counter an Objection
Never become defensive when you’re questioned or challenged. These comments are signs of interest. It’s only when you hear silence—apathy—that you know you’re in trouble.
Consider the most common objections you hear and prepare for them. (When I ask a group of 20 consultants to give me the most common objections, we usually can group them into a half-dozen issues at most.) Then, prepare your responses to each.
Example: “We haven’t budgeted for this.”
Response: “Of course not, you were unaware of the need and the return on such an investment. Why don’t we calculate the benefits together and see if it isn’t worth moving current funds from other areas generating a much lower investment?” (If the other person isn’t empowered to do that, you’re not talking to a real buyer.)
Have three or more responses ready for any anticipated objection, and state them confidently and readily. Never enter into an adversarial relationship. If someone challenges with, “You’re just a one-person operation,” respond with, “And that’s exactly why you need me!”
The greatest cause of objections? Lack of a trusting relationship. Work on that first and you’ll prevent most objections altogether.
A consultant is called by a prior client to provide a proposal to coach the client’s subordinate, newly hired at a $200,000 salary and overseeing a $3 million budget, but having major problems getting organized and gaining trust from the employees.
After discussions with the client, the consultant creates a proposal that calls for 30 days of coaching on site and off for $15,000. The client readily agrees. The newly hired executive responds well and, after the month, everyone is happy and it’s agreed that no further work is required at that point.
The problem is that the organization was saved the cost of possibly terminating the new hire and finding another replacement; was spared the embarrassment of such a public and obvious failure; gained a productivity improvement of about $300,000 in savings that the new person generated through streamlined operations (which was his charter); and didn’t have to tie up the time of his boss, since the consultant agilely resolved the issues.
The total of the tangible, intangible, emotional, and peripheral benefits is conservatively $800,000. A 20:1 ROI would have justified a $40,000 fee, regardless of the time required. This is a $450 million operation, which spends $40,000 regularly on parking lot repair and damaged furniture. It’s not a terrifying sum at all.
But the coach was afraid that anything larger than $15,000 would “scare” the buyer, because he was focused on the fee and not the value. So he left about $25,000 on the table, which he does consistently.
Frequently Asked Question
Q. How do you avoid being delegated downward?
A. Provide the buyer with value in initial conversations. Stress that the decision to be made is a strategic one to be made at his or her level. Point out that subordinates are often resistant to change and will not be valuable sounding boards. Suggest that human resources will resent the fact that they weren’t the ones initially asked to do this or talk to you. If you must accept meetings at lower levels, tell the buyer that you need a date to return and debrief, since you usually hear issues that are inconsistent with the buyer’s real objectives.
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© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.
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