Many salespeople make selling more difficult than it needs to be by wasting valuable sales time on prospects who clearly have no intention of buying. This dogged determination is often a result of a fear of rejection.
The salesperson has in front of him or her a nice person who is smiling, nodding, and generally making all the right sounds. Why leave such a nice friendly environment for the unknown? I have seen sales reps stay in contact with the same prospect for years, saying that it’s just a matter of time. From my perspective, I see someone deluding him or herself. “If you’re going to lose, lose early,” says an old sales proverb. The reason people hang on long after there is any hope is that they are avoiding approaching a new prospect who might lob a few major objections at them.
Selling is simpler than you think
Before I get to learning to love objections, let me tell you my simple philosophy of selling. If you ensure that each prospect conforms to the following three points, you will increase your sales — I promise!
1) Only sell to people who need and want what you are selling.
This sounds obvious, but too many people try to sell to anyone and everyone. If you spend more time prospecting for prospects that really need and have a desire to purchase what you are selling, life is going to be a whole lot easier for you. It also increases your leads-to-customer ratio (i.e. the number of leads that you turn into customers: your closing rate).
2) Only sell to people who have the power to buy what you are selling.
Again, this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but I constantly come across people who spend a lot of time attempting to close a person who does not have the authority to make the purchase. Qualifying your buyer is important; otherwise, you lose a lot of valuable selling time and end up with a feeling of unnecessary rejection.
3) Only sell to people who can afford to buy what you are selling.
This sounds simple, but too often we find people who like what we are selling, they may even need and want it, but they simply cannot afford it. For example, I feel that I need an Aston Martin, Vantage, and I certainly want one and I am definitely the decision maker, but there is no way I can afford one, no matter how good the salesperson is or over how many years I spread the payments!
Objections: What are they anyway?
So, assuming that we have someone who needs and wants what we are selling, is the decision maker, and can afford what we are selling and has the money, we should get the sale every time, right? Well, it’s not quite as easy as that. There is one last hurdle facing us, and that is the dreaded objection. And, there may be a lot more than just one lurking in the shadows. The good news is that if we cover the three points above and can overcome every objection, we’ll get the sale every time! Right? Well, actually, no. In reality, there are certain objections that we just can’t overcome.
Handling objections makes many salespeople, even professionals, come unstuck. They try to do an end run around the objection, try to avoid it, and, like a politician, change the subject, baffle us with science, or give us an unsatisfactory answer, and move on, trying to convince us to do what they want. This, of course, does not work!
There are four broad categories of objections.
1) Real Objections
These are the common objections that any knowledgeable sales person is able to overcome: genuine questions, concerns, and issues. For example, “I really like it but I dislike that colour” or “It would only work for me if I can get it delivered by next Thursday.”
2) Mistaken Objections
These occur when your prospect misunderstands you and has an objection that doesn’t really exist.
3) False Objections
These are often related to price. Think of the last time a salesperson approached you: What did you say? Perhaps, “I’m just looking” even if you were seriously considering a purchase or “Oh, it’s too expensive” or “I can’t afford it.” Occasionally, these can be true but more often than not they’re hiding another objection.
4) Hidden Objections
These are a problem because they are unvoiced objections. We never hear them, so we how can we deal with them? They lie there secretly poisoning the mind of our potential customer, and the sale just fades away.
Learning to Love Objections
So, how do we handle all these different types of objection? First of all, you need to make a list of every objection you have heard someone utter about what you sell. List all the obvious ones and ask everyone you know to come up with more. Create as long a list as you can and then come up with solid answers for every objection, answers you can use with prospects.
This list, and the knowledge and confidence it gives you, helps you approach objections from a new perspective. Instead of inwardly groaning when your prospect raises an objection, you can smile and say, “I’m glad you raised that point” and mean it!
Mistaken objections can get you into trouble if you’re not careful, especially if you start by saying, “No, you’ve got that all wrong.” Never tell prospects they are wrong; it will either insult them or embarrass them and neither is good for business. Just tell them that, for your own sake, you would like to recap what has been said so far, which gives you a chance to go back to just before where the misunderstanding took place and let them realize the mix-up themselves.
False objections are usually easy to spot: they come up regularly and you should deal with them in the same way you deal with real ones. The difference is that the prospect will come up with another and then another. The key is to find out what the real objection is.
Hidden objections are the ones that steal so many sales from under our noses and where most sales people give up, never really understanding why they never made the sale. There is only one way to deal with hidden objections, and that is to fall in love with all objections. Actually dig for them instead of shying away. Give your prospect permission to tell you what they think of your product or service, ask for their opinion and advice, ask them what they don’t like about what you
Few sales people do this, but it is incredibly effective. It gives the prospect permission to be critical and to say what they are thinking. In most cases, you are able to deal with the issue or even make changes to your product or service to accommodate the buyer. And this is not a risk strategy: if the prospect has lingering doubts, they’re not going to buy anyway.
Once you learn to love objections, closing the deal becomes easy — after all, there’s nothing standing in the way of the sale once the objections are all out in the open!