AtRedFlash Group we believe that one of the fundamental roles of marketing is to preemptively overcome sales objections—early and often. When done right, these objections are met head on before the sales person is put on the defensive. While we think these approaches are key to marketing, they can also be enlisted by the salesperson as they prepare to talk to a public safety decision-maker.
Here’s our best advice on how to overcome the most common sales objections among public safety leaders.
1. Gain Trust and Credibility First
The following is true whether it’s a police chief, sheriff, fire chief, EMS chief or 911 director:
They will only buy from you if they trust you.
So how do youbuild trust in your organization, product or service early in the sales funnel? You tell the story clearly, simply and without spin or trickery.
Use data and facts. Take an evidence-based approach to describing your solution. Go easy on the adjectives and hype. That’s an immediate turnoff to those in public safety.
Sharewhat their peers say. If you follow RedFlash, you know we harp on this constantly. Why? Because public safety decision-makers want to hear from others who’ve used your product or service. How does it perform in the field? Is it a good return on investment? Is it difficult or easy to implement?
Not only does this make your prospect feel more confident about considering your offering, but the peer proof also lends credibility to your organization and solution.
2. Understand the Importance of Legacy
The average tenure of a Fire Chief nationwide is about 5 years. Sheriffs are typically elected on regular cycles. By the time a responder rises through the ranks to join the Command Staff ranks in public safety, they are typically well-seasoned and a finite number of years from retirement.
So when they are faced with the prospect of buying your product, service or technology, there’s always one thing in the back of their minds: “How will this make me look after I’m gone?” Will the purchase be seen as a bold, progressive move that sets the agency on the right path? Or is it a terrible blunder that will need to be ripped out after their departure?
Marketing (and sales) needs to confidently convey that the prospect is making a sound, safe choice by going with your offering.
3. Simplify Your Processes
Public safety leaders are incredibly busy. Their roles often include being a CEO, politician and even a tactician who can take over incident command on a large event. More than anything, they need more time in their day to perform all of these functions.
Which is why the best thing you can do is make the buying and implementation process easy. Does your pricing structure require a PhD in statistics to figure out the cost? Do you have an install cost, then maintenance charges, then a cost per person/square miles served/population served, etc.? Can you make it any harder to buy from you? Sorry to be harsh, but we’ve seen this so many times. Keep your process as simple as possible.
The request for proposal (RFP) process is also arduous for public safety agencies and procurement officials. Consider working with a Cooperative Purchasing (aka Group Purchasing) organization, likeSourcewell, which has deep roots in public safety. This approach may allow you to use a purchasing contract the GPO has already established with the supplier. Doing so results in saving time and resources—both for the public safety organization, and for you as the supplier.
Our advice is to work really hard to make the purchasing process easy. The same goes for implementation and training. How can you streamline implementation and training and make your prospective buyer look good?
It makes a meaningful difference to have someone on your team who helps you see the world through your customer’s eyes. This could be someone who’s still a public safety practitioner, someone recently retired, or a consultant who knows the deal. A subject matter expert can help you anticipate objections and advise you on how to avoid pitfalls in implementation.
4. Have a Plan to Address Cost Objections
As discussed in the Simplicity section, keep your pricing simple. And when the objection is around cost, consider these approaches:
Offer the option to purchase as a one-time capital expense, monthly subscription or lease to own. Depending on the situation, having purchasing options allow your prospect to pick the right one for that moment. This is especially true in uncertain economies.
Similarly, there are many options out there for grants that can help fund your product or service. Consider sending them toLexipol’s Grant Services offering. But keep in mind — if your product or service involves recurring fees, make sure your prospect understands they need to secure ongoing funding. Getting a grant only to lose the solution after the grant runs out is a bummer for everyone.
5. Recognize the Role Agency Culture Plays
Does the prospective organization tend to purchase from the top down or the bottom up? Oftentimes, the top Chief will rely on purchasing committees, command staff or line personnel to handle purchasing for specific areas. Those who market exclusively to the brass often miss out on messaging to the all-important influencers.
But even if you’re dealing with the agency’s leadership, to have a smooth adoption and implementation, you need buy-in from the rank and file. Having support throughout the organization will help close the deal and foster a smoother implementation process. For example, we know of a 911 technology company that allows a new customer’s Emergency Communications Center personnel to “play” with the software for a month or two before launch.
A Chief will love the idea of the troops being on board and making the purchase a successful one.
Get Ahead of Common Sales Objections Before They Cost You Business
We hope these ideas will help you head off sales objections—ideally before they ever enter the mind of the prospect.
Have you found other powerful approaches to overcoming objections? Share them with us, and we’ll share them with other public safety sales and marketing leaders.