The tool of communication that the buyer uses to ‘play hard to get’ is called an objection. …The good news is that there is a finite number of challenging objections; they rarely get to ten. Effective sales managers compile appropriate responses for each into a live document and continually have their teams practice them
“I don’t want to see you! Your colleague lied to me. You are all liars!” The executive was fuming. How dare the company send another salesperson after he had told them off about being lied to by the first? But Francis (RIP), salesman par excellence, was cut from a different cloth. He assertively responded, “Sir! If you had a salesperson in your company that lied, what would you do?” Taken aback, the executive paused momentarily and then retorted, “I’d fire him!” To which Francis said, “Well, that’s what happened Sir, and I was hired. (Pause) So, based on your need I have two proposals I’d like to share with you. This first one…”
Such is the life of the salesperson. In the same way a girl (even one who is interested in the boy) will play hard to get, a prospect (even one who wants your product) will also ‘play hard to get’. It’s just human. The tool of communication that the buyer uses for this purpose is called an objection. And objections are the average salesperson’s worst nightmare. It does not help matters that internal training present their product to its salespeople as if it will be received as manna by buyers. And most ‘external’ training just gloss over the issue. Thus, few sellers are equipped for the onslaught. “Your price is too high; I’ll need to consult my wife and get back to you; but your bank might be closed; I don’t have my ID/pay slip with me.” And on and on. It’s tragic that at this point, most salespeople hit a brick wall. Meantime, the buyer thinks, “I ‘won’”. I’ve gotten rid of this pesky salesman.” In truth, your inability to handle objections may have denied him the solution he needs.
Objections are not to be feared; only understood. And, no, one need not be as suave as Francis-just willing to learn. In fact, few salespeople will be exposed to high pressure selling as Francis was. Conventional wisdom says that objections arise just before the close. In practice, objections can happen any time during your interaction with the buyer. Objections arise for different reasons none of which will be explicitly said. It could be the customer doesn’t believe your solution provides enough value; or, being human, is reluctant to make a change; or, his need does not align to your solution. Other reasons abound. The most effective way of dealing with an objection is to anticipate and weave it’s response into the presentation. For instance, if you know your competitor has just made a presentation to your prospect, an appropriate pre-emptive response might be. “I know my competitor has already shared his product with you. This is good news as it makes my job much easier. Among the things I’ll share with you is our point of difference and how it is of benefit to you. Now…”
The good news is that there is a finite number of challenging objections for every product. They rarely get to ten. Effective sales managers compile appropriate responses for each into a live document and include practicing the responses as part of their training. And how do they get said responses? Feedback from salespeople on what works, and their own market intelligence. Those that have done this will tell you that every objection can have as many as three appropriate responses. Each though, will tend to follow this format: acknowledge, clarify, respond, confirm and proceed (with the sale).
For example: I already have your brochure which I’m still studying. “That’s good. We all have Bibles too, Sir, but we still go to church. Let me explain…”
If your product isn’t a match for the buyer’s need don’t push it. Handling objections isn’t lying. It’s enriching the presentation, helping the buyer let down his guard and be more willing to consider change. Arming salespeople with appropriate responses can have an immediate positive impact in their closing ratio because in essence you will have brought down the brick wall.
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