3 Surefire Methods to Earn More Engineering Contracts


This article courtesy of Engineering.com.

You’ve probably experienced the negative impact objections can have on your business development. Client commitment to a contract can waver when they have objections.

You will find the following methods of responding to objections helpful to putting your business development conversations back on track to securing more contracts.

When some engineers are faced with objections, they revert to using traditional sales techniques. They soon discover that these techniques can act as client repellent and cause them to lose contracts.

The most effective philosophy to embrace when dealing with objections is to focus on helping clients think through their buying decision. This way they can reconnect to their buying commitment.

It is recommended to choose one of the following three methods when responding to objections. Choose the one that best suits each of your client conversations.

1:  Influencing Clients’ Decision-Making Criteria

Clients can sometimes be unclear about the criteria they are using for their buying decision. This lack of clarity can be the root of many objections. By asking clients questions, you can help them clarify their decision-making criteria. In the process, you can also influence the criteria they choose to use.

To help facilitate this process, consider using questions like:

  • “Have you had a chance to determine the criteria you’re using for your decision?”
  • “Would you like to know the criteria other clients used when they made their decisions?”
  • “Would it be helpful for you if I went through some of the criteria others have used to successfully complete projects similar to yours?”

These kinds of questions will help influence client’s thinking so they begin to see other criteria as options for them.

Sharing the criteria past clients have used for similar projects will go a long way in developing a relationship of trust. Clients are more likely to see you as an advocate if you demonstrate you are there to share what has made others successful. They will feel they can piggyback off that success.

2:  Sharing a Relevant Story

If you discover early in the conversation that your clients don’t fully understand the value of the contract you’re proposing; leverage some of the latest brain research. It indicates that a powerful way to engage others and to further illustrate ideas is to share a relevant story.

This may at first seem like a rather soft way to respond to objections, but it works. When you share a true client story, it helps increase client understanding. The key is to ensure the past client success story relates to the current client’s objection.

The clearer you make the connection between your current client’s objection and your past client’s solution, the more compelling the story will be. A true client story is most effective when it also includes how you were able to address your past client’s problem and successfully resolve it.

For example, if a client has a price objection, you can share a story about a past client who originally also had an issue with price. As you share the story, connect it to the past client’s price objection with specifics on how you and your team used your expertise to maximize the past client’s return on investment.

When you share stories in this way, your current clients will see that their price objection was merely a misunderstanding of the bigger picture.

3:  Providing Helpful Information

If you discover early in the business development interaction that the client didn’t believe something that was said, you can increase your believability by proving what you already shared.

To do this, provide supporting information for the parts of the contract that the client does not believe. Some of the types of material that you might provide are:

  • Facts about the project’s impact
  • Related industry-specific reports
  • Comparison charts using the strengths of your firm
  • Primary research impacting the contract
  • Secondary research about the specifics of the project

For example, you might use research about the quality of the materials you’re proposing and how much money they will save the client in the long run.

Putting the Methods Together

The three methods of responding to objections (criteria, stories, and information) are not always mutually exclusive; they can overlap.

For example, you might share a story that includes the criteria a client used to handle a similar project.  This example would be a mixture of criteria and story. Or you might share some statistical information to help a prospect clarify his decision-making criteria. This would be an overlap of information and criteria.

These three methods of responding to objections provide you with the valuable tools to help your clients with their buying decisions. You can better prepare for objections by having your criteria questions, client stories, and information ready. Armed with these, I am sure you’ll earn more contracts.


This article is adapted from award-winning author Peri Shawn’s book, Sell More with Sales Coaching. Download two free chapters at www.CoachingandSalesInstitute.com.

This article was originally published on Engineering.com and is reprinted in its entirety with permission. For more stories like this please visit Engineering.com.  

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