Earlier this year we looked at some techniques for dealing with objections (Objection Handling Technique 2007-04-20 ) As part of that article I mentioned that unrealistic expectations on behalf of the prospect can sometimes be misunderstood and treated as objections by the sales person.

So first let’s recap, an objection is a reasonable concern on behalf of the prospect, an unrealistic expectation on the other hand is not a reasonable concern and needs to be dealt with differently as part of the selling process. When a prospect has an unrealistic expectation we first need to try to understand why?

For instance, is this unrealistic expectation motivated by a need for what the prospect perceives as a strong negotiating position? This can be relevant when the prospect is looking for the very best deal that he/she can get. In other words by intentionally attaching a very low value to the seller’s product, the prospect puts a very strong pressure on the seller to discount heavily so that the buying cost is closer to this unrealistic expectation. While some sellers may see this as slightly dishonest on behalf of the prospect, it is important to bear in mind that it is the prospect’s job to get the very best deal possible. In my experience this negotiating technique happens more than most sellers realise. Remember prospects become skilled buyers and deal with salespeople every other day. If a prospect has used this negotiating style effectively in the past, they are more lightly to use it again and again to lower costs.

The other instance where a prospect can have an unrealistic expectation that needs to be managed is where they actually genuinely believe that their expectation is reasonable even when it is not. This can happen when they are not familiar with your type/nature of product and associated costs. Often the prospect will make a like for like comparison with a lesser product or sometimes with a completely unrelated product.

When dealing with unrealistic expectations, you need to decide which of the above applies. Is the prospect genuine or not? If the prospect is using the expectation as a negotiating strategy, it’s perfectly OK to negotiate but you need to get something back. Attach a value to each and every step along the way. In the instance where the prospect is been genuine but is making unrealistic comparisons with lesser products, the seller needs to educate the prospect as to the differences and the extra values. In this case don’t focus on the limitations of the other product but rather explain and sell the additional benefits of your product. Remember value is the amount of benefits against the cost not cost alone.

Managing expectations is complex part of selling and there are many more examples that could be given. However I believe the sellers first step is always to try and understand the motivation behind the expectation.

In effect the technique is in how we say it.

You deal with an objection.
You manage an expectation

Author's Bio: 

Niall is a Sales Training Consultant with Real World Sales Training web: realworld.ie and has worked in Sales for over a decade. He has worked as a Sales Manager and Sales Trainer in the Insurance, Finance, Telecommunications and IT industries. He has trained salespeople to sell into the residential, B2B and the Irish Public Sector markets .He has trained people to sell products ranging from finance to search engine technology software and pocesses a broad experience of developing training in sales techniques, account management, presentation skills and new business development.