Many sales have been lost because a sales representative did not know how respond to a prospect’s first objection. The sales representative may either: allow the objection to stand with a “thank you” and a sincere statement of follow-up, or put the potential customer on the defensive with a statement that could seem argumentative. Both choices are bad for business because they do not result in a sale. Often, the objection the prospect gives is not even their true reason for not buying. To get to the real reason, consider the following five sales tips for managing objections.
- Recognize all objections are questions in disguise. Try turning the objection into a question by stating, “That brings up a question. The question is <paraphrase their objection statement as a question>? Is that the question?” This will result in a simple yes or no or they will rephrase the question so the sales representative can answer it. If they say no, proceed with asking them what the question is in their words. As an example, the prospect says, “This sounds great; I just need to think it over.” Sales representative responds “That brings up a question, the question is there are a few key points you may be unsure of. Is that the question?” If they say yes, then now the sales representative has opened a dialogue. If they say no, respond with “What specific questions are on your mind that you need to think about?”
- Keep the dialogue alive with the “obviously you” technique to stay on track. This technique works especially well with emotional objections. Listen for emotional cues which include always, never, every time. Then respond with “Obviously you have a reason for saying that. Do you mind if I ask what that is?”
- Always ask questions that will get the prospect talkingrather than giving short “Yes/No” answers. The more the prospect talks the more is learned about their business problems. Even the best sales representative cannot sell a solution if the problem or pain is not known in advance. Knowing the customer needs makes it easier to customize the sales message.
- Stay on track using the “just suppose” technique. Do not let an objection derail the sales process. Instead create a scenario that takes the current objection out of the picture. For example if the customer considers the price too high rather than cut the price, say something like “Just suppose that price was not a consideration, are the benefits I have shown you of value?”. This is designed to smoke out the real objection and keep the sales discussion on track as it encourages dialogue. Amateurs often use this to close the sale with phrases like “If I could meet your price, would you buy today?” This pushes a prospect who may be only using the price objection as a smokescreen or who cannot clearly see the benefits.
- Never “but” the customer. Use of the words “but” or “however” often sounds like rationalization for a poor solution or the beginning of another side to an argument. Instead of telling the customer why they are wrong, use an “and” question such as “And why do you say that (or feel that way)?” The word “and” conveys a partnership message rather than a pending argument.
In summary, prepare for objections in advance of meetings. Think of all the potential objections the prospect may come up with and determine the best way to handle each. Then practice managing those objections in role plays with others before meeting with the potential customer.
Use the five sales tips for managing objections to find the true reason the prospect is hesitant to buy. Do not just leave a sale on the table by accepting the first objection. Instead, learn to manage objections and ask the right questions to increase sales rather than lose them.