Objections are part and parcel of selling, and where ever I have gone as a sales trainer people have asked me for ‘objection handling’ techniques. I have heard some very interesting theories over the years including ‘cushioning the objection’ and ’empathising’ etc. However, here is what I think about objections:
I have always characterised the objections people give you into these three distinct types:
1. Those people that give you ‘Red Herring Objections’ (made up or Bull Sh*t objections))
2. Those people that make ‘Genuine Objections’ (part of the buying process)
3. Those people that initially say ‘Yes’ – Then never sign! (The hardest one of all to overcome)
Lets pick them off one by one.
The Red Herring Objection
These are hard to spot at first, especially when you are starting out in your career. This leads to you merrily charging in and attempting to over come the objections with all the best intentions in the world. After a while you start to sport them for the time wasters they are and I’ve always found the best policy is to actually ignore them.
I ignore them because otherwise you give them a life and a credence they don’t deserve. Say someone tells you that they are waiting for the go ahead to sign the order confirmation and its linked to some esoteric happenstance that you cant possibly control. The inexperienced among us can inadvertently help the client construct ever more elaborate stories that merely further obscure the actual problem by giving the lie the oxygen of conversation that it needs.
The actual problem, by the way, is that they don’t want to buy (for any number of reasons) and you’ve made it really hard for them to say no.
So rather than prolonging the agony and continuing to flesh out a fallacy, why not simply allow the client a gracious exit strategy? Instead of pinning them to the floor and not letting them up till they sign – requiring from them an ever more complicated rationale as to why its not possible for them to sign right at this moment, let them off the hook.
They will thank you for it, and hey, you never know, they may even think so highly of you that they come straight back to you at that point in the future when they are ready to buy.
The Genuine Objection
When people ask questions about your product, or pick you up on an inconsistency, it can be because they want to buy your product and need more information. Consider the following ‘consumer buying behaviour model’.
1. Need Identification
2. Information Search
3. Evaluation of Alternatives
4. Purchase Decision
5. Post Purchase Analysis
At the very least the questions they are asking point to the fact that the client is in ‘information search’ and you need to provided them with what they need at this point. Otherwise they might be ‘evaluating the alternatives’ and you are then required to actually do some selling, and persuade and convince them that your solution is the best one!
Or maybe, pivotally, they are yet to fully accept they ‘need’ your solution, and if that is the case, until they do, they aren’t going to buy. So this is a crucial part of the conversation. Either way, this is the sort of genuine objection you should relish as a sales person.
The Client that says Yes!
These are the hardest objections in the world. They will allow you to take them through your entire sales process, right up to the close, and agree all the way. They are even likely to tell you that they love your solution, and its perfect for what they want! But then, try as you might, you just can’t get them over the line.
I think that these guys are related to the Bull Sh*tters in the red herring objection, but oh so much more complex! These guys can think it somehow undermines them to admit that they can’t afford the solution you are advocating. Or once again, maybe they think that there isn’t a way out for them to say no, without unleashing all sorts of high pressure sales technique from the expectant sales person facing them.
I also think, a lot of sellers, especially those among us that are new to the career, are often so hopeful and optimistic, that the people we are talking to find it hard to dash our hopes. One of the main weapons of most sales people is enthusiasm and turning down a bright eyed and energetically bouncy sales person can feel a little like kicking a puppy.
So once again – you must build a path for your clients and help them help you. No one wins when a potential sale drags on and on in the pipeline only to stumble to an eventual horrible demise!
Do it quick! If you feel there is any angst on the part of the client, and that is preventing them from giving you an honest answer, and therefore preventing you from being able to whole heartedly move on to the next prospect, help them out.
Give them a deadline you ‘quite understand’ they cant possibly meet. Or even better, level with them. Tell them in your experience, at times like these, its often better to leave the dust settle on the conversation and revisit it in a few months time.
Those that have been wriggling and were to embarrassed or just too down right nice to say no to you, will jump at the chance to elegantly conclude the proceedings. Mind you, if they don’t, thats a whole other set of problems!
What do you think? Have I missed any? Whats your favourite objection?
Let me know in the comment section below! I look forward to hearing from you.