First acknowledge an objection before responding to it


Objections are the archenemy of the average seller.  The inability to handle objections is debilitating to the sales process. I’ll wager that easily over half of your pregnant sales abort because of this handicap

“I’ve never heard of you”, the prospective buyer says. “How do I give you my money to invest for me?” The average seller is stumped. He curses underneath his breath. ‘Arrgh! I’ve told them (his employer) a million times that we need to market more. Now see; I’m going to lose a sale because this customer has never heard of us.’ And with this frame of mind he resignedly admits, “Yes. We still have to market more.” Or, becomes defensive: “We advertise on NTV Business. You haven’t seen us (sic)?” Both responses kill the momentum of the sale, very likely losing it. The progressive seller knows these responses are ineffective. So hearing, “I’ve never heard of you” for what it is, an objection, he proceeds to acknowledge it with, “We are the best kept secret.” And proceeds to respond thus: “Here, let me show you how you benefit from not being one of many but one of a kind….”

Did you see what he did there? Remaining conversational, he made a neutral statement that does not antagonise, appear defensive, nor, and this is the most important, necessarily agree with what the buyer said. Agreeing confirms the buyer’s fears; acknowledging gets him to see the same problem differently while making him receptive to the response. And the response should be aligned to how the buyer benefits.

Objections are the archenemy of the average seller.  The inability to handle objections is debilitating to the sales process. I’ll wager that easily over half of your pregnant sales abort because you or your team are paralysed at the mention of statements like, “You are too expensive”, “I’ve just spoken to your competitor”, “I already have your brochure. Let me go through it and get back to you.” 

Mercifully, the burning ones rarely get to ten. In fact, it is said that every sale has five obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire and no trust. Sales managers should assist their teams close more sales by developing an objections sheet with at least three appropriate responses to each objection. From it, the team can practice the responses to fluency. From experience, I can tell you their motivation will visibly soar at this empowerment boost. Where do you get the responses from? Guided by the acknowledge-respond formula, engage team members to share responses that have worked for them, or they think can work; browse the Internet, or ask a competitor friend how he handles a specific objection. Handling objections appropriately is a continual exercise and so the objections sheet is a live document.

I’ll end with a gem from one of my students. Their bank has limited branches. In fact, it has only seven, with more than half in Nairobi. And so, to the objection, “You are not in my county,” knowing they have mobile and online banking which she would respond with, she first acknowledged thus: “Distance cannot separate us….”

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