The problem generally begins when you start talking about a network upgrade. Around the time, many small business prospects, customers and clients will dwell on cost.
These small business prospects, customers and clients often neglect to consider the soft costs of not properly investing in a network? such as lost employee productivity when imprudent corners are cut, downtime when fault-tolerance is an afterthought, and service costs from computer consultants when difficult-to-support or "dead-end" solutions are selected primarily because of their low price tag.
No matter how thorough your initial consultation, IT audit, site survey and network design reports, some unforeseen client objections may pop up just before you get the client's authorization to proceed (generally a signed contract and retainer or deposit check).
Why Overcoming Sales Objections is SO Crucial
Because one relatively minor concern might threaten to derail the entire sale, you need to gain the critical business development skills for overcoming sales objections, with some of the biggest small business network deal-closing obstacles.
Empowered with these strategies for overcoming sales objections, you'll be much less apt to get emotional, defensive or just plain annoyed. You can then stay focused on keeping your eye on the ball and figuring out the best way to solve the prospect's or future client's problems ?and of course, close the sale. Remember, your company isn't in business to solve prospects' problems; only those of paying clients.
Overcoming Sales Objections: Apathy
I hope you get a good night's sleep before this sales objection rears its ugly head. You need a powerful force to overcome apathy.
If small business decision-makers have an apathetic outlook toward the prospect of implementing a network, your decision-makers might take weeks, months, or perhaps even years before feeling a sense of urgency about your proposed network project.
However, once you discover the roots of this apathy, you'll be better able to push (or at least nudge) the approval process along.
Here's a typical example you'll find in the field: The small business owner sees no problem with their existing peer-to-peer network. One or two seemingly innocuous foul-ups, however, can cause the small business owner to see the "light".
With a Microsoft Windows peer-to-peer network, for example, the "server" seems perfectly reliable until the person working on the PC functioning as the server inadvertently hits the reset button with his or her knee.
If you need to be overcoming more of the common sales objections, you must be very adept and recounting these kinds of cautionary tales with the right timing, delivery and empathy.
Using Network Reliability to Overcoming Sales Objections
PC/LAN network reliability can also get called into question when the user of the peer-to-peer server inadvertently performs an unannounced, unscheduled shutdown and restart because a software setup program prompted a reboot.
With peer-to-peer networks, protecting data is usually also an afterthought. If the peer-to-peer server isn't protected with fault tolerant hard drives, a reliable tape backup drive, a server-class UPS, and updated antivirus software, a peer-to-peer server becomes an accident waiting to happen.
So while any of these factors can turn apathy into your opportunity, sometimes a little divine intervention steps in to help you in overcoming sales objections.
One day a lightning storm and blackout pushes your client's "server" over the edge. When power's restored, the server cannot even boot up to its welcome or logon screen. So now, the small business owner is scrambling with the internal guru at 2 a.m. trying to restore the company's corrupted contact management database, which contains 25,000 records and three years of data.
Fear of Catastrophic Data Loss and Overcoming Sales Objections
Situations such as catastrophic data loss, although horrible tragedies for those affected, are great motivators for combating apathy and overcoming sales objections. All of a sudden, the small business owner becomes extremely receptive to your suggestions about your proposed networking solution, which of course features centralized security and data protection.
Discontinued technical support is another powerful counterforce for overcoming apathy-rooted sales objections, especially when you're talking about vertical, industry-specific software, such as niche applications designed for accountants, attorneys, physicians, realtors, auto body shops and restaurants.
After a certain point, the independent software vendor (ISV) selling vertical, industry-specific software draws a line in the sand and stops providing technical support, annual updates, and patches for older versions of their product.
So if your client is an accounting firm that needs updated tax tables (they'd basically be out of business without them), your client is forced to upgrade the tax software, which often in turn forces an upgrade of the server. This results in a call to your firm to upgrade their server (and several related highly lucrative product sales and service opportunities for your firm), all as a result of the "domino effect" from an ISV calling the shots.
With this kind of scenario, you don't even need to do much of the work in overcoming this sales objection. Your prospect's, customer's, or client's vertical ISV has done the "heavy lifting" so to speak in overcoming sales objections.
So besides fears of unreliable systems and vendor-mandated upgrades, you can also overcome apathy by discussing your prospect's, customer's or client's competition (without naming names, of course). If you work with many small businesses in the same industry, and you're seeing a software or more general technology trend that drastically alters the competitive landscape in your prospect's or client's industry, by all means call this to your prospect's or client's attention, as a means of overcoming sales objections.
The Bottom Line
If you sell and service IT-related products to small businesses, you need to develop your sales skills for overcoming sales objections. This article introduces you to three different major categories of small business IT sales objections and helps you understand simple anecdotal closing strategies for overcoming those sales objections... and most importantly, closing more big-ticket sales.
Joshua Feinberg is a 15-year veteran computer consultant, an internationally recognized expert on small business computer consulting. He has appeared in dozens of business and IT trade publications including CRN, VARBusiness, Microsoft Direct Access, TechRepublic, American Express OPEN Platinum Ventures, Entrepreneur, Inc, SCORE, Small Business Computing, and USA Today. To learn more about Joshua's proven strategies for overcoming more small business networking sales objections, visit his site at