#5. Handle Objections Skillfully
In this five-part series, I’ve shared with you a range of activities that you can engage today to help turbo-charge sales in your business—-no matter whether you are a sales professional working solo or managing a sales team. I’ve identified for you what you need to do at the front-end of your sales cycle—defining your best customers, obtaining referrals and testimonials and making better use of all of these in how you sell to your prospects. I’ve also talked about how to engage your sales math and why this is an important step to take if you’re determined to join the ranks of the top-10 percent of sales performers in your organization.
There is one more point that I want to cover in this series, and that’s the importance of doing nothing.
You read that right. Nothing.
Hear me out, because this is really important. To explain what I mean, let’s start by acknowledging a key fact about sales. Objections are among the biggest challenges that salespeople encounter when working hard to turn prospects into customers. However, they are not insurmountable! Objections are quite a natural part of sales process.
It’s understandable, really, that when making a decision to buy, people will often take a step back and ask themselves "am I doing the right thing…am I comfortable with what’s being offered?" Let’s face it, we all ask questions like those when we’re on the other side of the table as a buyer (e.g., think about the kinds of objections you may have had the last time you bought a home or a car). So really there is no harm in acknowledging this as entirely acceptable behavior among your prospects and customers. That is why I take issue with some sales experts out there who try to tell you that you can sell in a way that creates no objections. Please. If you respect those with whom you do business (and I’m sure that you do), then you’ll respect the fact that smart people do their homework and don’t rush needlessly into committing to buy—-particularly when you’re selling products or services priced in units of $10,000 or more.
What really matters is how you handle objections to a sale. When you’re skillful in this regard, you can have a significant influence on your ability to sell to more customers in less time. When you encounter this, my advice is to not even define these matters as objections. Instead, think of them as questions. By reshaping your assumptions, you can start focusing on the key questions that preoccupy your prospects. Next, you can develop answers that ease concerns and resolve doubts. In other words, you’ll start spending more time seeing sales as dialogue—-a real conversation—rather than a monologue.
This is where the importance of doing nothing comes into play.
Skilled reporters—-people who earn a living asking probing questions of others—will tell you that silence can be one of the most powerful tools you can use in a fact-finding conversation. Authors Sally Adams and Wynford Hicks talk about this in their book Interviewing for Journalists: "It’s impossible to over-emphasize the importance of silence…Count at least four seconds silently to yourself. You’ll be amazed at how often the interviewee carries on speaking, amplifying their last comment…Don’t over-do it, though, and use really long silences. They can be counter-productive, leading to short answers."
So when you encounter objections, be quiet. Don’t jump in right away with questions, because if you interrupt the person who is explaining their objection or you try to pounce with answers, you’ll look defensive. The prospect may interpret that as you trying to justify or defend a position, and that can get their hackles up.
If your prospect says to you "Your price is too high," or "I’m not the right decision-maker," or "We need more time," don’t panic. The sale isn’t drifting away. Instead, give that prospect enough room to talk and give yourself an opportunity to listen carefully to what they are saying. In the vast majority of cases, the prospect will feel compelled to jump in and give you more information. In many cases, they’ll even answer their own objection within that little vacuum of silence!
One last bit of advice: be sure to prepare in advance with answers to the most common objections. Write down your six most common objections and develop six answers that are really solid, making a convincing case for why a prospect should buy from you. Field test those answers and make revisions where necessary.
There’s no excuse for you to not know what these objections are and there’s no excuse for you to be unprepared when you hear an objection that you’ve heard many times before. For instance, if you know that you services or products are among the most expensive in the marketplace, raise that with your prospect right away. For example, you can say: "It’s important for you to know that we’re not going to be the cheapest product/service out there…how do you feel about that?"
To sum up: handle objections skillfully by learning when to say nothing. Also, zero-in on the most common objections in your business and have answers that communicate clearly in benefits that matter to person you’re speaking with. Your confidence in successfully closing the sale will grow, your prospect will be more at ease in about making the decision to buy, and you’ll be many steps closer to hitting bullseye on your sales target in your business.