How to Handle Client Objections to Win More Proposals

by April 4 Minutes

Congratulations! A prospective client wants a proposal. Now your foot’s in the door…

But you still have to get them to sign on the line which is dotted. So you race against the clock to submit your proposal. And after what seems like forever, the prospect calls.

She says the proposal looks solid, but “what if this project goes over budget, like our last website redesign did? What happens then?” You can’t think of a response!

There’s an awkward and uncomfortable silence. You scramble to think of what to say…

Finally, you blurt something out. But you’ve been thrown off your game, and you know you didn’t really convince her to hire you.

Later you learn that the client went with someone else.

So what went wrong?

You or Your Proposal Must Address Objections Or You Won’t Get Hired

The problem is that neither you nor your proposal addressed the client’s objections.

“If you can’t respond appropriately to objections or concerns, you will not likely move the sales conversation forward,” writes Kelley Robertson, author of Stop, Ask and Listen: Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling.

One way to think of objections is as obstacles to the sale. So to win the proposal, you have to remove objections so the sale can flow.

The most effective salespeople are continually addressing objections, whether they’re writing proposals or selling an online course.

Take for example Ramit Sethi’s Earn 1k program, an online course designed to help students earn $1,000 on the side. One blogger wrote about his initial objections to buying Earn 1k, such as:

  • He was concerned the material wasn’t actionable: “One of my initial hesitations [was] that I would just fork out more money for this new resource, learn some great stuff, but never really put it to much use.”
  • Price. The prospect had already dipped into his savings for a three-week trip. It wasn’t the best time to spend more money, he reasoned.

Because of these objections, the prospect decided not to buy the course. Later we’ll see how Ramit addressed those objections to change his mind.

But first, let’s look at some of the reasons most proposal writers fail to anticipate and address objections.

Most Proposal Writers Don’t Even Think to Address Objections

When you write a proposal, you’re used to writing about what you offer.

Take a look at this sample proposal for a website.

The majority of the proposal is about what the company will do, what they charge, and their team:

  • “We would undertake to do the following…”
  • “The budget for the design and development of the website, including integration with the CMS, would be…”
  • “We have a team of full-time staff, and a network of freelancers…”

There are sections for the project description, scope, budget, timescale, and three sections devoted to information about the company. Those things are definitely important. After all, you have to cover project scope and budget…

But like most proposals, this proposal doesn’t address common objections. For instance, maybe the prospect is worried about spending thousands of dollars and not liking the final result.

Until the web design company addresses that objection, the prospect won’t fork over the 40% deposit.

If you’re focused on what you do when you write proposals, you won’t even think about objections. That means you won’t anticipate a single objection, let alone solve any of them!

And if you aren’t anticipating objections when you write your proposal, odds are you’ll be caught off guard later during a sales call when your client brings up an objection. You won’t have a good response. And your proposal heads straight for the recycle bin.

So let’s look at how to avoid those situations.

The Solution is to Anticipate Objections and Resolve Them

Before you can resolve an objection, you need to anticipate it. The easiest way to do this is to just write down all the objections you get from sales that don’t close.

Then, figure out a way to address the objections.

That’s how Ramit changed his prospect’s mind from “‘I can’t now, but maybe next time’ into a ‘hells yeah!’” He anticipated each concern and addressed them. The prospect enthusiastically paid $997 for a course that he’d already decided not to buy.

The more objections you address, the closer you’ll get to winning the proposal.

So how do you do it?

How You And Your Proposal Can Address Objections

You can address objections in your proposal. You also can address objections around your proposal when you talk to or email prospective clients.

Let’s look at examples of both.

Ways to Address Objections In Your Proposal

We talked about how most people only write about their offer in proposals.

But there are a few ways you can also use your proposal to handle objections.

  1. You can explain your unique process that resolves their objection. For example, as a freelance writer, I use an approval process that assures clients they’ll get the content they want. I start by getting the topic approved by the client. Then, I write an outline and get that  approved. Finally, I write the first draft. That means the client doesn’t have to worry about getting an article they can’t use.
  2. You can make an explicit guarantee that ensures their objection can’t happen. Ramit offered a money-back guarantee on his course, which addressed his prospects’ fear of wasting money on something that wouldn’t work.
  3. You can provide social proof. No one wants to take a gamble on a web designer. Ramit provided reassurance with testimonials that his prospects could relate to.

These methods of addressing objections in the proposal can help you win more proposals. But your proposal isn’t the only thing that sells.

Ways to Address Objections Around Your Proposal

Your proposal doesn’t have to do all the work. You can sell, too!

Consider the following ways to remove objections around your proposal, clearing the way to close the deal.

  1. You can address objections verbally. Phone and in-person meetings are a great opportunity to anticipate and address common objections. It’s also the perfect time to listen for new objections.
  2. You can eliminate objections in emails. Ramit sent an email after his launch that assured prospects that they’d have lifetime access to the material. That resolved one prospect’s specific objection about missing three weeks of the course while on vacation. Also, Ramit’s email was part of a drip marketing campaign, which automatically sends a series of emails to prospects. Drip marketing campaigns are a great way to eliminate objections by educating prospects.
  3. You can create an e-course. Ramit used an e-course to give prospects a preview of his material. The course included action steps so that prospects could start getting results before they even bought the course. Firsthand results are pretty powerful proof that his material works.

Remember, the more objections you address, the more likely you are to win the proposal!

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by April
April is a freelance writer and copy editor who specializes in writing for online marketing and research companies, magazines, and e-zines.