Unfortunately, the first two orders many new salespeople receive are, “Get out and stay out!” It is only natural for your prospect to procrastinate when asked to make a decision involving money. As a general rule, people are hesitant to commit to purchasing a product or service until they have convinced themselves that they need it and are assured they are getting it at a fair price. Research indicates a prospect will say no on average five times before they actually buy. As a professional salesperson, it is important to remember that an objection is not a rejection of you personally.
Believe it or not, objections are a good sign and you should actually look forward to them. After all, if your prospect was not interested in your product or service, they wouldn’t be asking questions. Simply put, an objection is nothing more than a request for additional information. Top producers not only expect objections during the sales process, they actually anticipate them.
Typically, a prospect’s objections will fall into four major categories; no money, no perceived need, no hurry, or no trust. If you haven’t built trust and rapport with your prospect, qualified them financially, and conducted a thorough needs analysis, you can expect them to use objections to derail the sales process.
When addressing an objection, don’t dump the whole bale of hay. The majority of salespeople have a tendency to overwhelm and bore their prospects by over educating them. Many salespeople lengthen the appointment and use up their valuable fall back positions in an attempt to show how knowledgeable they are. Occasionally your prospect’s objection may be disruptive and therefore, you might want to delay answering it until a more appropriate time. When you make the decision to delay your response, I recommend you write their question down and ask them, “Would it be ok to address this question later on in my presentation?” However, if the same objection comes up twice, you should stop and address it immediately.
Steps for Addressing an Objection
Step 1 – Hear them out and write it down
When your prospect voices an objection, show concern, treat it with respect, and hear them out. Interrupting when you should be listening not only presents a bad first impression, but it also destroys trust and rapport. Learn to be an active listener by giving your prospect your full and undivided attention. Avoid the temptation to think about your response while your prospect is speaking. An active listener is not only listening to what their prospect is saying, but is also trying to discover the meaning behind their words. Research indicates that 65% of our communication is nonverbal. Therefore, it is vitally important to pay attention to body language and listen for voice inflections. In addition to observing your prospect’s gestures, you must learn to be mindful of your nonverbal signals as well.
Before you begin responding to your prospect’s objection, it is vitally important that you understand their specific concern. Even though you may have heard the same objection many times before, you must avoid the temptation to begin addressing their concerns prematurely. Otherwise, you run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot by voicing an objection they had not even considered. I recommend you get in the habit of restating the objection in your own words to gain agreement prior to responding. In this step it is important to remember that your intention is not to address their concerns, but simply to hear them out and write them down without comment. Never argue or even register disappointment with their objections, just acknowledge them. It is a good idea to take notes and occasionally nod your head affirmatively to let them know that you are tracking with them.
Once you have listed all of your prospect’s objections, conclude this step by saying, “Bob and Mary, if your concern(s) can be addressed to your complete satisfaction, at this point, can you think of anything else that might keep you from going ahead with this decision today?” If additional objections are brought up, add them to the list and ask the question again to gain commitment. Obviously, it does not make sense to go to step two if there is reluctance to go ahead with the decision.
Step 2 – Feed it back for clarification
Feeding the objection back in the form of a question provides your prospect an opportunity to expand upon their concern. For example, if your prospect said they don’t have the money in their budget, you would simply feed it back in a nonjudgmental way by saying; “You don’t have the money in your budget?” This technique greatly reduces the perception of pressure. By giving your prospect the opportunity to explain their statement, they will frequently answer their own objection. Another good reason to clarify the objection is to make certain you are addressing their exact concern and not inadvertently creating a new one. Some objections are of greater importance to your prospect than others. A prospect will often use insignificant objections in an attempt to stall or delay the closing sequence. After you have clarified the objection, ask your prospect how important that concern is to them. After all, not every objection is really important.
Step 3 – Answer the objection and “Touch Close” the Sale
When addressing an objection try to stay big picture, but be prepared to provide details upon request. Use graphs, charts, numbers, and or testimonials if the big picture approach isn’t effective. During this important step, pay particular attention to your prospect’s body language gestures. Once your prospect agrees that their objection has been resolved, let them watch you cross it off your list. Continue this deliberate process until each and every objection has been resolved. Complete this step by asking, “At this point can you think of anything else that might keep you from going ahead with this purchase today?” If they say no, proceed with confidence to the final step and ask them for the order.
Step 4 – Ask for the Order and Expect a Decision
Transition into this step by saying, “Bob and Mary, am I correct in saying that it appears you both have convinced yourselves in the merits of this purchase?” If you sense the least bit of hesitation, excuse yourself by saying, “Bob and Mary, I can tell that you need a moment to discuss this information in private, so I am going to get a cup of coffee and give you time to make your decision.” This technique dramatically reduces the likelihood of your prospect taking the information home to “think about it.” Keep in mind that you may have to ask for the order several times before you get the sale; so make sure to vary your closing questions. The key to overcoming objections and closing the sale is to remain professional and be persistent without becoming argumentative or defensive. Knowing how to effectively address your prospect’s objections brings you closer to their final question, “Where do I sign?”
John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.
For more information, visit www.johnboe.com.