by Pam Lontos
You are in front of one of your biggest accounts. You’ve asked the right questions and gave a dynamic presentation. So much money hinges on this client’s answer. Your heart is beating rapidly, your hands feel clammy. The time has come to ask for the order. You take a deep breath and say, “Let’s do it!” But, the client pauses and says, “It’s just not in the budget. I need to think about it. Call me in six months.” End of the road? No! Sale in six months? No! More than likely the client is ready to buy and is just afraid of making an immediate decision. If his fears were eliminated, he’d buy now !
So, why do so many salespeople leave with no sale? They never learned how to deal with and eliminate objections and hang in there to get the sale. It’s crazy to hear the same objections over and over and not know how to deal with them. There’s no reason to be unprepared. After a few months in any industry, salespeople have heard most of the objections they will hear over and over again for years.
How do you handle objections, and what are the steps you go through to be prepared? The secret lies in the ability to ask the right questions. Not just questions to find need, but questions that eliminate objections and commit the client to buy. The person asking the questions is the person in control. And being in control is the key to getting the sale.
Do not be afraid of objections. Through a client’s objections he is telling you exactly what his needs and wants are, what he objects to, and where his fears lie. The only way to sell a person is by uncovering his objections and dealing with them immediately, or they’ll come back to haunt you later. There’s no way to sell someone without understanding the real objections.
If you don’t discover the real problem, later, when he says no, you won’t know why. Narrow these objections down and eliminate them until finally there are none left, and it is easy to close the sale. You must cancel all objections or narrow them down to one before you begin your sales presentation. If you do this, the client can’t come up with other objections. If you know how to deal with objections properly, you won’t spend a lot of time dealing with false objections. You need to boil it down to the exact real objection.
What Keeps You From Being Too Pushy?
You should not quit selling when the client is giving you objections or if he is also giving you buying signals. If you get negative body language, you should either start asking more questions or re-schedule the appointment. Objections appear when you begin to sell or close the sale. They are maneuvers the clients can use to postpone the decision.
The Defensive Client
Often, when you begin talking about your company, your client will become defensive and think of reasons why he does not need your service or product. However, at the beginning of the call, if you talk about his business and not about yours, he won’t be bothered and will tell you things he won’t reveal once you’ve begun your sales presentation. Remember, people love to talk about themselves.
Strategy 1: See The Objection As A Question
As a salesperson, your job is to give the client the facts, advantages and benefits of what you’re selling. When the client raises an objection, you should assume he has not really voiced an objection but has asked for more information.
Suppose the client says, “Your price is too high.” You can infer that he asked, “Why are your prices higher than your competition?” With this way of thinking, you can tell him why they are higher without sounding defensive.
Client: “My budget is spent.”
Salesperson: “What you are wondering is, ‘Is it worth it to change my budget?’ That’s the real question, isn’t it?”
Client: “I buy only your competition.”
Salesperson: “What you are wondering is, ‘Would our company do a better job for you?
That’s the real question, isn’t it?”
Strategy 2: Turn The Objection Into A Reason For Buying
No matter what the objection is, you can start your answer by saying, “Why, Mr. Client, that is the very reason you should buy.” When a person states an objection, he reveals his principal reason for not buying. If the salesperson can turn that objection into a reason for buying, he will have an excellent chance to get the sale. It also makes it hard for the client to keep using that objection because it has now become the reason for buying. You have taken away its power.
Client: “Your audience is too young (or too old).”
Salesperson: “That is the very reason you should buy. This is a market you’re missing. Since they aren’t buying in your store, you have not made any attempts to get them into your business.”
Strategy 3: Smoke Out All Important Objections
If you feel the client has some reason for not using your company he hasn’t stated, ask him what it is.
Salesperson: “What is the reason you are not buying?”
Client: [states his objection].
Salesperson: “Is that the only reason?”
Salesperson: “Then, if…[eliminates objection]…would you buy?”
It is important to get the client to say “yes” to this last question because it indicates a commitment to buy. If the client doesn’t answer that way, question him as follows:
Salesperson: “Is…[re-state the objection]…the only reason?”
Salesperson: “Then if…[eliminate objection]…would you buy?”
Salesperson: “Then, there must be another reason. What is it?” This last question forces out the real objection:
1. Client: “I have no budget.”
Salesperson: “Is that the only reason you won’t buy?”
Salesperson: “Then, if you had the budget, would you buy?
2. Client: “My budget is spent.”
Salesperson: “If you had the budget, would you buy us?”
Salesperson: “Then there must be another reason. What is it?”
Salesperson: “Well, you say you won’t buy because of no budget. However, if you still won’t buy even if you had the budget, there has to be another reason or you would buy. What is it?”
Client: “I have to get approval from the owner.”
You see, you would have been going nowhere dealing with “budget objection” because he wasn’t the real decision-maker. Only by narrowing it down to one objection and then asking for a commitment to buy can you flush out the real problem. Otherwise, you waste time and wonder why you didn’t sell him.
Strategy 4: Eliminate Objections With Questions
If you try to overcome objections after your presentation with arguments, you may win the argument but lose the sale. You do not overcome the objection, you eliminate it through questions at the beginning of the presentation. Here is an example from health club sales:
1. Objection: “I don’t have the time.”
Question that will eliminate that up front:
“Do you have 30 minutes three times a week to look good at your high school reunion?”
2. Objection: “I live too far away.”
Question that will eliminate that up front:
“Did you choose this location because you live close or work close?
3. Objection: “I’ll think about it.”
Question that will eliminate that up front:
“If you like the ideas I propose, could you make a decision today?”
Strategy 5: Agree With The Client About Something
Find some point of agreement with your client before you start to answer an objection. This is the best known way to cushion your answer and render it unobjectionable. The client will not object as much if he knows you understand his problem. You are not arguing or putting down his remark, you are merely adding information while keeping the client’s ego intact.
Client: “Your rates are too high.”
Salesperson: “I understand how you feel, Mr. Client. I had the same feeling at first, too. However, if we look at…”
Strategy 6: Admitting To The Objection
You are not selling something that is perfect in every way, and when a client objects to a real limitation, you will be better off by admitting it. Having done that, continue your presentation focusing on the aspects that are favorable. If you try to convince the client that something is right when it is obviously not, you will probably lose the sale. People buy not because you answer all objections; they buy because they want it.
Client: “The last person to call on me from your company was rude.”
Salesperson: “I’m very sorry about that. Now, I will be taking care of your account. You never will have that problem again.”
Clients bring up past problems because they want empathy and understanding. So admit it, and go on selling.
Strategy 7: Denying The Objection
If the objection is obviously untrue, you can smile and say, “Of course I don’t believe that.” or, “Of course you don’t mean that, Mr. Client.” You can’t let the client make you look like an idiot.
Client: “Another company gives me a 50% discount.”
Salesperson: “That’s hard to believe. Show me the agreement.”
Client: “I wouldn’t use your product if it were free.”
Salesperson: “Of course you don’t mean that.”
Strategy 8: Let The Client Answer His Own Objection
If the client cannot answer your question, then he has disproved it himself. The client may flounder around then admit that his objection was not really important. So, one of two things will happen: The client can’t give a satisfactory answer, so he disproves it himself. Or, he gives an excellent answer, which gives you a more specific, real reason that can be dealt with. In other words, it puts you on the correct highway to the close.
Client: “I only use your competition.”
Strategy 9: Re-state Client’s Objection In Your Own Words Before Answering
Re-stating the objection serves three purposes:
- It lets the client know you are listening.
- It helps avoid misunderstanding and ensures that you answer the right question.
- It gives you time to think about how you are going to answer.
Client: “I won’t buy without a discount.”
Salesperson: “I understand that you want a discount. However, when you consider that discounts would reduce the quality of our service…”
Sometimes, when an objection that is stupid or outrageous is repeated back, the client will admit it is not real or important. Also, it can bring out the actual concern.
Strategy 10: Deflating Objections By Bringing Them Up Yourself
For example, in radio you know you have low numbers, so when you go in to see the client you say, “Would you rather have eight people in your store who buy or 100 who don’t buy?
There is no reason to be unprepared. If you have been selling at least three months, you already have heard and know 99% of all objections for your industry.
The client knows how to get rid of you with his patent answers, so you must know how to deal with every objection. It only makes sense to anticipate the objections you hear over and over, not be bothered by them, and have a ready answer. By doing this, you will increase your effectiveness and sell a lot more.
Copyright © 1997 by Pam Lontos. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, FL. She is the co-author of I See Your Name Everywhere and is a former Vice President of Sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting in charge of 8 radio and 2 TV stations. PR/PR has placed clients in USA Today, Entrepreneur, Time, CNN, Reader’s Digest, and Cosmopolitan. Clients include Brian Tracy, LeAnn Thieman (author of Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, Second Dose), and Sy Sperling (founder of Hair Club for Men). They also work with professionals who are just launching their company.
You can contact Pam at:
Pam Lontos, President
775 S. Kirkman Rd., Ste. 104
Orlando, FL 32811
Fax (407) 299-2166