“No.” “I don’t think this is for us.” “I’m not too sure.” “Another time, maybe?”
Phrases that sales people are all too familiar with, and will encounter countless times in the day. Are you one of them? Do you feel that familiar sense of dread every time your prospect presents this hypothetical wall? Or perhaps it’s like water off a duck’s back, but there’s no denying that it places an instant barrier between you and there seems to be no other option but to take the round-about rejection you’ve been presented with and walk away.
Stop. Don’t. There’s another way.
Sales Season presents the objection handling loop; your foot in the door, past the initial “No.”
There are 7 stages of the loop. The first stage is where the buyer articulates the specific objection. The second stage is to make sure that we understand it. Unfortunately, not all buyers will present the issue with total clarity. We may, therefore, need to repeat the question back and/or ask one or two additional questions just to ensure that we’ve fully grasped the issue.
Handling objections successfully is as much about maintaining rapport as it is about actually answering the objection. So, it’s important to introduce a cushioning phrase such as “I can understand the strength of feeling you have on that”. This takes the sting out of the situation and shows you are focused on addressing the buyer’s concerns.
The fourth phase is to dig a little deeper. Ask a question such as “Is there anything else that is causing you concern”? In some instances the first objection can be a smokescreen. There is something deeper, more worrying to the buyer but for some reason, perhaps out of embarrassment, they have not been forthcoming. A question like this asked with empathy and while maintaining good eye contact - if in person, may just elicit a response. Of course, it may simply be that another objection has come into the buyer’s mind while discussing the first one. So, asking the question is always a good idea to ensure all the bases are covered.
The fifth phase is to respond to the objection. This may be quite straightforward and simply involve a point of clarification or an adjustment in understanding. On the other hand it may take some time to resolve and involve all the skills of influencing and persuading to overcome it. The point to remember is to maintain the same consultative ‘ask don’t tell’ approach throughout. Don’t become impatient and don’t make false promises.
The final phase is to check for buyer satisfaction with a simple question like “Is it OK to proceed”? If ‘yes’ than continue on your journey, ever closer to the sale. If ‘no’ then a problem must still persist. Go back into the loop and start again, but be careful not to be too robotic! Like all things this process will become more natural with practice.
This isn't to say that all objections can be handled with the loop. Continiously repeating the loop could alienate and irritate your prospect, so it's advisable to do this a limited number of times.