Search by keywords:
Search resources by: Competency
Content Format


Not a member? Sample unlocked content here.

Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Tips and techniques'>Tips and techniques</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales personnel'>Sales personnel</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Objection handling'>Objection handling</a>
Sales Strategy
Nov 25, 2010 | Alice Wheaton lock

Objections are Worth Their Weight in Gold…to the Salesperson in the Know. Salespeople generally don't know this, but there are two main reasons why prospects raise objections. First, objections work to get rid of incompetent salespeople, and second, they help separate good salespeople from the rest of the pack who do not know objections are the juice of the sale.

Each time you receive, acknowledge, and deal with an objection during the prospecting call, your chances of getting the appointment will increase by about 25 per cent. If you were to ask for an appointment three times, you would have a 75% chance of getting an appointment. On the rare occasion, a prospect will become annoyed with your persistence. Do not let the reaction of 5% of your contacts influence the way you approach the other 95%. 

Not backing down helps you demonstrate a belief in yourself and in your product. You are seen as a leader, a person who respects the burning desire to succeed. Those who can manage their uncomfortable emotions well enough to ask again and again for a desired outcome, demonstrates personal power. Some readers may be asking, “Won't clients get angry if I continue to ask them for an appointment?" The answer to this question is going to vary with every potential client. If you carefully integrate the request for a meeting with respect for the clients concerns, you are not likely to offend the client. 

People with power are comforted by displays of power. If you are seen as being reticent, your power clients will presume you'll waste their time. They have their own power so they don't need anyone to be submissive to them. If you are unable to handle a few objections, you will be relegated to a lower-level decision-maker, which is where you belong. This may sound harsh, but it is true. You must see yourself as an equal, a peer of your clients. You have something of value to offer them and they have a problem that you can solve for them. It's an ideal match! 

Salespeople must expect to receive objections from prospects. Those who do not accept this will fall by the wayside. Prospects present objections because they know objections intimidate salespeople and keep them away. In my experience 50% of people quit after their first call. As far as the customer is concerned, objections work. Salespeople quit calling!

You begin discussing clients concerns by offering them the opportunity to do so. In typical sales scenarios, salespeople try to avoid confrontation by talking too much, too fast. They feel if the client doesn't expresses disagreement about them, the company they represent, or the product/service they sell, then all is well and it has been a good sales call. 

The process of up-side down selling establishes that nothing could be further from the truth. You must be willing to entertain disagreement, dissension, and dialogue about contentious issues with your prospect. 

Unfortunately, most people go into a downward spiral when they receive other than positive feedback. Someone disagrees with them and immediately they feel disapproved of. Then they become dismantled inside and respond by either defending and justifying, or retreating from the process. This immature communication cycle actually holds in tyranny those with whom we have a relationship because it presumes they must express to us only that which we want to hear.

  •   Disagreed with
  •  Feel disapproved of
  •  Become dismantled inside
  •  React defensively or retreat

Too many salespeople suffer from Happy Ears Syndrome. These people avoid objections at all costs, thereby missing out on forming long lasting, mutually beneficial, business relationships. 

Giving prospects and clients the option to say no, as shown by being willing to receive their objection in an open manner, has four major benefits:

1. It helps create receptivity by helping clients/prospects feel respected and not pushed into a corner.

2. You will project an impression as someone who is confident, non-defensive, and open to feedback of all kinds.

3. You will sell more because you will be able to outmaneuver your competition by getting more information from your clients, thereby understanding their needs better. Would you want to deal with a salesperson that fails to understand the negative issues clients face in their work environment?

4. You will be much more approachable because a person with no defenses and no pretenses is much more likable.

Telephone objections can be the Kiss of Death because if you can't get an appointment you can't engage in the selling process where you provide a solution for their company, a solution that will help them in turn to provide a solution to their customers. They are called Kiss of Death Objections because even seasoned salespeople back away from the encounter. If you back away, you lose the opportunity to develop a connection with this client.

The six Kiss of Death Objections apply to any product or service you are selling. They are not industry specific. We have all encountered them, and they have beaten many of us. Here are the six dreaded telephone objections, along with helpful actions to take when you encounter them.

1. Can I tell him who's calling?
This response is rarely heard these days because of voice mail. However, it's still possible to reach a gatekeeper, whose job it is to screen salespeople from taking up the boss's time. The trick is to prevent the person from asking you that question. If you begin your request by giving your name, you have answered the question before it is asked.

Begin each prospecting call with "Hello, my name is ____________ and I'm calling for Ron Hughes. Is he there please? I'll hold." Then do not utter one sound until after the receptionist speaks. Remember, the receptionist is conditioned to ask Who may I say is calling? When you pre-empt the usual response and the receptionist's stride is broken, your chances of having him or her follow your suggestion is much greater, but only if you stay silent. Asking a question and then holding onto silence is one way you can stand in your own circle of power.

In our society, we seem to have a low tolerance for silence. More than six or seven seconds causes most people to feel anxious. Along with the receptionist, you will also feel anxious, but because you're the one causing the anxiety you should be able to tolerate it. Salespeople with too much empathy will want to rescue the receptionist. Salespeople who are willing to break the silence are actually rescuing themselves, not the client. Their discomfort rises to an intolerable level and they rescue themselves and the receptionist by speaking. The empathy you feel for the receptionist may be real, but resist the urge to speak. Let the tension build. Don't speak. S/he will not be able to tolerate the silence, and the quickest way to handle it is to give you what you want.

The silence you create is cold so you must precede it by speaking slowly. Your voice must be friendly, clear, concise, and warm. The mixture is highly effective for getting what you want - an appointment and the opportunity to provide value to this company via your product or service. If you don't call, how will the company know about you?

When you are put through to your contact you may have to settle for voice mail. Whether or not the voice-mail message asks you to contact a specific person, press 0. This will increase your chances of reaching someone who can share some insight into the comings and goings of your contact.

A great way to gain the assistant's help and commitment is by using nine magic words. Use them whenever you need help and they are, I have a problem, and I need your help. Then pause to let the words sink in. The response will usually be warm and helpful. By admitting you are human and need help, you have placed the listener in a position of power. I call this Courageous Vulnerability.

2. Can I tell her exactly what this is about?
When you respond to this objection, and any other objection, you disarm the receptionist by agreeing with her. You answer quite correctly and quickly that, of course, you can tell her. However, you are not going to, not exactly, although you are going to give her the answer she wants to hear. This is called receiving the objection. Remember the story about the stick in the introduction? 

Notice that your response must begin by receiving the objection. The purpose of this is to present yourself as non-threatening. When you appear to agree with the request, defenses are lowered and receptivity is easier to establish.

"Yes, of course you can tell her. It's about a change in corporate policy and I need to speak with her about that today. Is she in please? I'll hold."

Again, be silent after you have stated your request. It is doubtful that any front-line person will want to quibble with changes in corporate policy. Besides, what did you actually say? Nothing yet...but whatever you are offering could result in a corporate change in policy, couldn't it? 

The second benefit of using bafflegab, or non-specific words designed to impress, is that many receptionists won't remember what you said after your call has been transferred to the manager. The phrase change in corporate policy is not the vocabulary of most receptionists.

3. Can you send me a brochure?
Salespeople very rarely see this request for what it really is - an attempt to dodge any further communication. It is a polite way for the prospect to say No! and still be able to think of himself as a nice person. Remember, we all have some degree of difficulty with saying no, even our prospects! Because of the average salesperson's naiveté, this objection frequently works. Many salespeople say, "Of course I can." They get the address but often don't follow up; and if they do, the prospect or the assistant will usually toss the brochure. The average salesperson considers this to have been a successful transaction because they were able to maintain their Happy Ears Syndrome – they were let down nicely. They did not get the order but are relieved that their sensibilities are intact. What a waste. Better to get the appointment or the order and repair one’s disrupted sensibilities later.

The following response will help you stay in the driver's seat:

“Yes, of course I can send you a brochure, but would it establish a win-win relationship?" Pause for a few seconds after you ask this question, then follow with another: “As nice as my brochure is, it couldn't possibly establish a win-win relationship. If it's all right with you, I'd like to set a time to debrief with you… you’ll get a sense for me and I’ll get a sense for you. Then you decide if we should have a longer meeting or not. Does that sound fair to you?”

By handling the objection in this way, you demonstrate how you are different from the others. Notice that you receive the objection by agreeing that you can send a brochure. However, you also negotiate for an appointment. 

Exception to the Brochure Rule
Sometimes the send me a brochure objection involves a contact from out of town. You know that traveling to see this contact is an unwise use of your time, so send your brochure. First, try to pre-contract with the person. Here's how it works:

"Of course I can send you a brochure, but let me ask you a tough question (do not pause). How long do you think it will take to reach you if I send it today - 10 days or so? (Wait for an answer) Great, and then you need a chance to look through it? Great, so what I'll do, if it's all right with you, is call two weeks from today so I can ask you some questions and let you know how we work. That's fair, isn't it?"

By setting up a time to have a phone conversation after sending the brochure, you've created an agreement to connect as if you were meeting in the same town. Instead of a face-to-face meeting, you have a phone appointment.

4. I'm very busy, I don't have time.
This objection is not intended to show how important the client is. It's used because it rolls off the tongue easily, and because it's an effective way to get rid of salespeople. To overcome this objection, as with the receptionist, you must provide something different to break the pattern.

"Ohhhh, I didn't mean this week, or even the next. I was thinking of three or four weeks from now, so why don't we pencil something in for the last Thursday of the month? Would morning or afternoon be better for you? It's a wide open field for me that day so why don't you choose?" (Silence)

What does it mean when you say pencil something in? It signifies flexibility, not cornered options, which is a way of providing psychological comfort. You're showing your empathetic side. Once the prospect has chosen morning or afternoon, you assert your goals by saying, "Can we make this a win-win arrangement?" (Do not pause here; it only appears that you are asking for an answer) "That is, if something comes up for you, you give me a call to reschedule, and I'll do the same for you. That's fair, isn't it?" Once the client agrees to contact you in case of a change, be sure to provide your cell, pager, and office numbers.

Note: It's not your job to manage your prospect's timetable. For more information, see objection# 6.

5. Can you call me back?
It is true; sometimes you catch a person at a busy time. When I make a prospecting call I never ask if it's a good time to call because it's too easy for a prospect, recognizing it as a prospecting call to say Sorry, I'm busy. If prospects are truly busy, it's up to them to say so. I ask them when I should call back, and then I say, "Of course, I can call you back. When would you like me to call?" (Silence)
If you call back, a second time and they ask you to call back again then you engage in conversation this way:

“Mr./Ms. Customer, can I ask you a tough question? I’m going to feel uncomfortable asking it, and maybe you will feel uncomfortable answering it. Sometimes people don’t say no because they don’t want to hurt my feelings. But it’s okay by me if you say no.”

If they do say no, replay with
“Thank you for being so candid. I appreciate your respecting my time and yours.”

6. Will you confirm with me the day before?
This is my favorite objection. I know customers say this so they seem to be nice, reasonable people. They think to themselves I may have said yes to the poor salesperson, but I'll just avoid her by being busy when she calls back later. This is passive/aggressive behavior used to try to throw you off, so don't fall for it.

Establish equality and peerage by saying, “Of course I can confirm with you the day before, but will you agree to a win-win arrangement between us? That is, if anything comes up for me, I'll be sure to call you [pause] and you do the same for me [no pause]. That sounds fair, doesn't it?”

To improve the chances of the client calling you should a situation arise, you might wish to provide more than one means of contact - for example your office phone number and a pager or cellular. This would make it difficult for a client to use the excuse that they were unable to reach you. You can eliminate that excuse by providing options for contacting you.

In these Kiss of Death scenarios, you must operate in the circle of your own benevolent power in a polite fashion. There is no honor in having a prospect mess with your time. You must see yourself as equal to your customer. Yes, there is a risk that you will show up and the prospect will not be there. It is far riskier to call prospects to confirm the meeting because it gives them the opportunity to reconsider your value to them. When they ask you to confirm the day before, they are asking you to be responsible for their time management. That is what assistants do, not professional peers.

You may have noticed that at the end of each request I add That's fair, isn't it? This is called a psychological tie-down. That is, you ask a question that stimulates the prospect's psychological need to say yes by tapping into their own enlightened self-interest to maintain their own image of being a fair person.

Two questions to which people always answer yes are:

1. Do you have a sense of humor?
2. Are you a fair person?

If you end your requests with That's fair isn't it? or Does this seem fair to you? you tap into their psychological need to see themselves as fair.

If you want to validate this claim, you can develop a set of questions, including the two mentioned above, to which people can give only a yes or no answer. Test your friends, co-workers, or even strangers on a street corner, and see the results for yourself. It would be a shame if you didn't utilize this knowledge for the good of your business success.

About the Author:

Alice Wheaton is passionate about assisting individuals and teams play a bigger game of business. This article was taken from her second book, Say No to Me: Secrets of Up-$ide Down Selling. She speaks at conventions and for corporations on “Double Your Business Without Working Any Harder.”

This content is exclusive for CPSA members

Become a Member

Already a member? Login to see full the article.

About the author: 249

Related Resources