A long-proven process for overcoming objections

Bob Davis The Quality Conversation bookAn excerpt from The Quality Conversation by Bob Davis

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You might ask, “If I am having a Quality Conversation, why would I ever get an objection?” Well, you will get fewer objections, but you will get some.

First, you will get objections at the very beginning of the sales process, before The Quality Conversation really begins. Most often, this happens when making outbound calls or contacting prospective customers. They try to brush you off with a quick objection. Why? They do not understand the value you bring to the call. They simply want to get rid of you and move on with their day.

These quick objections can also happen when you try to transition a customer service call into a sales opportunity. This is when you have taken care of the issue the customer called about, and you are trying to interest the customer in other services.

Being able to get past this quick “no” is very important to your success in selling. If you crumble upon hearing “no” right off the bat, you will have fewer opportunities to enter into Quality Conversations and sell your product or service. The best way to get past the quick “no” is to acknowledge it, state your value proposition and ask a pertinent question. Let’s say you are selling digital advertising for a newspaper. You call the customer on the phone and say, “Hello, this is [your name] with your local newspaper.”

The customer on the other end of the phone, a restaurant owner, says, “I’m not interested, but thank you for calling.” At this point, you can very quickly say, “I understand. I’m calling because we are getting fantastic results for other restaurants with our online dining guide. What is your online strategy?” This approach includes an acknowledgment, a value statement and a pertinent question. Does it always work? No, it does not. However, it works often enough to get past the quick “no” at least half of the time. It gets you to the point where you can have a Quality Conversation with the customer.

You might also get this quick “no” when you are transitioning to a sale. In this situation you might say something like, “I’m glad I was able to help you with the problem you were having with your remote control. Let me take a look at your account and see if there is more value I can add on this call today.”

The customer, sensing that a sales pitch is coming on, might say “No, that’s OK. I have to go.”

Again, you want to acknowledge and add value. You might say, “I understand you are busy. The last customer I had on the line saved more than $50 per month on long distance charges. Who do you have your phone service with now?”

Asking these questions and assuming the customer will answer will give you power. In this scenario, you have already been holding a Quality Conversation in the process of solving the issue with the remote control. You have asked great discovery questions up to this point, and you have delivered something of value to the customer. Why wouldn’t the customer keep answering your questions? You have already proven you can provide value.

 


How does your contact center team overcome objections, and what would it mean to your organization if they could do so more effectively? Contact Bob Davis today for a free consultation.


 

You must also understand the difference between real and false objections. Most false objections occur in the form of a stall, such as:

  • “We set our budgets in October. Call us back then.”
  • “We are really busy right now. Call us back in three months.”

I know sales people who count these false, put-off objections as real. In fact, I was cold-calling one day, and a company manager told me, “I’m very interested in what you are selling. If you will call me back on July 1st, I’d love to talk more about buying your service.” That date was six weeks away. I believed the manager and waited until then to call again. This time, a receptionist answered the phone and said, “Oh, he retired yesterday. June 30th was his last day. We had a big party for him.” I asked if this was sudden, and she said, “Oh, no. He had been planning his retirement for months.”

Do not be a fool like I was. Do not take these put-offs as anything other than what they are. They are a polite way of saying, “No.”

Instead, when a prospect gives you a put-off, find a point of agreement. Say something like, “I would be happy to call you back any time that is convenient for you. I certainly can appreciate how busy you are. However, I suggest we spend 10 minutes right now, or in the next week or so, to see if it makes sense for either of us to talk any further.” Then give your value proposition, such as, “We are getting fantastic results for other restaurants, and I think we may be able to do the same for you. Let me ask…”

Now, let’s talk about real objections. You have to be able to answer them. The first step is knowing the difference between false, put-off objections and real ones. Some of the real objections you will encounter are:

  • Can’t decide independently or is not the decision-maker.
  • Does not have the money.
  • Does not see the value of your product.
  • Does not want to change the current supplier.
  • Can’t get the credit needed to buy your product.
  • Has something else in mind.
  • Wants to shop around.
  • Has higher priorities than dealing with you right now.
  • Is not sure your product or service will work.

Brian Tracy is a famous self-help author. He has written more than 45 books, and they have been translated into multiple languages. In his book The Art of Closing the Sale, he wrote of nine types of objections that a sales person can encounter. I paraphrase them here:

  1. Unspoken: The prospect has objections but does not state them.
  2. Excuses: The prospect says, “We are not interested at this time,” or, “We don’t need this product.”
  3. Malicious: The prospect criticizes the product or you.
  4. Request for information: The prospect asks you to send more information by email or mail. This is the easiest objection to make.
  5. Show-off: The prospect tries to show you how much he knows about the product.
  6. Subjective: The prospect criticizes your appearance or behavior.
  7. Objective: The prospect criticizes the product or service, saying something like, “I don’t think it suits our needs,” or, “It’s not right for us.”
  8. General sales resistance: This is the wall people put up when they feel a sales pitch coming. You will hear something like, “I really don’t want to be sold anything right now.”
  9. Last-ditch objection: The prospect knows all the facts about the product, but still hesitates, asking, “Are you giving me the best deal?” Another last-ditch objection question might be, “How do I know that this is worth what you’re charging me?”

That’s a wide variety of objections, but you can overcome every one:

Step One – Listen to the whole objection. Sometimes the customer does not tell the whole story, but you need to hear it. For example, the prospect may tell you she had a bad experience with your company in the past. This is not the whole story. Respond to this by saying, “I am so sorry. Please tell me more.”

Step Two – Restate and find a point of agreement. Restating the objection using a prospect’s own words is very powerful. It shows you are listening and are on the prospect’s side. You begin to build rapport and a relationship. Then, you find a point of agreement on some aspect of the objection, but not necessarily all of it. The prospect might say, “The last sales person from your company was a liar, and all the sales people from your company are liars.” Your response might be, “So, if I understand you correctly, you feel like the last sales person you dealt with from our company was a liar, and every sales person in our company is a liar. Is that right?”

Restating the objection might cause the prospect to back down before going any further and say, “Well, maybe that’s too harsh.” But if the prospect says something like, “Yes, that’s right. They are liars,” it is time to find a point of agreement. You might say, “I don’t blame you one bit for not wanting to deal with liars. I don’t like to deal with liars myself.” You haven’t agreed that the company’s salespeople are liars, but you have agreed that you do not like dealing with liars either.

Step Three – Draw out hidden concerns. Do this by asking, “In addition to [the original objection], is there any reason, anything at all, preventing you from moving forward?” This is a very effective question for two reasons. One, it lets the prospect know you are very fair-minded and are on the prospect’s side. It keeps The Quality Conversation going. Two, it increases your chances of getting to the true objection. Prospects tend to have a quick objection ready, but often the truth does not come out until you press for more information.

Step Four – Isolate the main objection. If you discover more than one objection, say, “Of the objections that you have given me, what is the main reason you hesitate?” If the prospect narrows the objections to one, you are further along than you would be if you had to deal with two objections.

Step Five – Answer the main objection. Here is the good news! Ninety percent of all objections you hear will be the same five or six objections over and over again. If you do not have rock-solid, well-prepared answers for these objections, even to the point of being scripted, shame on you! You know you are going to get these objections repeatedly. Why wouldn’t you prepare for them?

You have had a Quality Conversation up to this point, so prospects will likely see this whole process as helping them make a decision. They will also be open to your answer.

 

Feel-felt-found

One of the most effective ways to answer an objection is the feel-felt-found method. Solid psychology backs it up. Once you have gone through the first four steps of the objection-handling process, you can answer the objection by saying, “I understand how you feel about the issue. Others have felt the same way, and what they have found is…”

By putting the prospect in a group of other prospects, and then unifying the whole group based on what they feel, have felt and have found, you are more likely to move the prospect to common ground.

 

Testimonial letters

Another powerful way to answer objections is to have testimonial letters in hand. This works well face-to-face and on the phone. You can highlight the answers to the most common objections in the testimonial letters and read these answers to your prospects.

For example, let’s say your price is higher than most of your competitors. This will drive many objections, and you need to prepare for this. Highlight testimonial letters from happy customers who say they are thrilled with the product or service, even at a price higher than your competition. With these letters at hand, you will indeed be well-prepared to overcome this type of objection. Simply read the highlights to your prospects.

Here is how the overcoming objections process might work for some of the common objections:

Customer: “Well, that all sounds very good, but I need to talk it over with my daughter.”

You: “Please tell me more about that.”

Customer: “Well, my daughter is very knowledgeable about computers, and I want her thoughts.”

You: “So, if I understand you correctly, your daughter is very knowledgeable about computers, and you want to talk to her before you make this purchase. Well, that makes perfect sense to me!”

You: (Continue drawing out additional concerns.) “In addition to wanting to talk it over with your daughter, is there anything else, anything at all, causing you to hesitate?”

Customer: “Well, to tell the truth, I’m not so sure about the credit check.”

You: “Please tell me more.”

Customer: “Well I have had some issues in the past, and I’m not sure I can pass the credit check.”

You: “Thanks for sharing that with me. So, of the two reasons— that you want to talk it over with your daughter and that you are concerned about the credit check— which one is the main reason you are hesitating?”

Customer: “Well, the credit check.”

You: “I understand how you feel. I talk to customers every day who have felt the same way about running their credit. When they go ahead, though, they have found it painless. Even if the score is not so great, there is almost always a way to deal with it through a security deposit. It will take about 60 seconds to run the check. Let me do that while I see if we can get that Saturday installation you wanted.”

Customer: “You are so nice! Go ahead, and let’s see what happens.”

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