Handling Objections, Part 2

To review, we stated last month that salespeople should not fear objections and should in fact, “smoke them out” in a sales interview. It is important to know all of the hurdles that need to be overcome, and also where we stand with your prospect. We need to know what parts of the presentation have gotten through, and what parts need further clarification or discussion. Objections will provide that information.

We also noted that objections are really questions stated in a different way. So, turn the objection into a question, then “cushion the objection,» answer the question, and go on selling the benefits. A cushion (“I can appreciate your concern, but let me explain,” or “I see! Well, let’s talk about that.” etc.) lets your prospect know you are concerned enough to discuss the issue (objection) further.

Feel, felt, found
Try the “feel, felt, found” method to answer objections. After you hear an objection, say something like this (in your own style of course)” “I can appreciate how you feel. The ABC Company felt the same way, but when they looked at the total picture (or “they tried our products”) they found that….” and then discuss the results of what they found.

When we sell, most of the time, we are selling a change – be it in a product, in a procedure, or in an entire system. Sometimes these changes seem small to the seller, but most changes are not small to our prospects. We may have seen this product or procedure work well any number of times in our past, but our prospect views it as new. People fight change, and in doing so, they come up with reasons (objections) to not change, and we need to know those reasons.

Here is another way of handling an objection. If you are selling thing that, in your experience, usually generations the same objection time time you make the presentation, try bringing it up first! get it on the table to get your prospect’s response. Then let that response direct you.

The proprietary objection
For example, let’s say that you are selling a product that is dispensed through a particular dispenser that only your product will fit (a proprietary item). You might hear the objection, “Well, it sounds good, but I’m concerned about being locked into just one source.” If this objection comes up often, you should (must) have an answer that is acceptable and explains the advantage to your prospect. If you don’t, you’re in deep trouble anyway, so why not bring it up first?

Perhaps answer with “Some people are concerned about buying a proprietary system because it seems to give us an advantage.” Then pause and wait for a reply. If the prospect doesn’t answer, ask, “Where do you stand on that issue?” or some other open-ended question. Then you will know where you stand. If the answer is “That’s no problem,” you can get onto selling benefits. By the way, many times, that will be the answer you get once you bring up the objection first.

Here’s a suggestion – make yourself an objection answering worksheet for the various products and services you sell. Take each product and service, and write down the five toughest objections you have or expect to encounter most often for each. After each objection, write down what your prospect really means (what the question is), then write your cushion and the re st of your answer. I’m a great believer in practicing and rehearsing and role-playing the various parts of a sales presentation. When written down and practiced, the opening, the questions, the features, advantages and the close will all come easier. Remember – perfect practice makes perfect.

The “current supplier” objection
When you hear something like, “We’re happy with our current supplier,” you might respond with something like, “It’s interesting that you say that. Some of my best customers told me the same thing the first time I called on them, but today, we are good friends and they are good customers because we were able to help them solve their problem.” Then recount the problem and how you solved it. In our travels and meetings with sales people in various industries, the one objection that is almost always brought up first, no matter what industry, product or service is being sold, is price. We will dedicate next months column to answering this most prominent of objections.

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