Objections are strange things. On one hand we think that we don’t like them – we may even be afraid of them. Their very name can make us feel that the customer has something against our product, our company or even worse, us personally.
On the other hand, the sale which proceeds without a single objection is the success which gives us possibly the least feeling of achievement. Whilst we are obviously pleased that the customer has bought from us, there is often a feeling deep down inside that something is ‘not quite right’ – and if the customer did not object to the price, then we could probably have recommended and sold more to him/her.
For some reason, an objection-free sale does not give us as much satisfaction as we would like – it is too easy.
Q. Why do we have these apparently opposing feelings?
A. The answer is quite simple – we are salespeople, we enjoy selling when a customer agrees with us all the way, we don’t have an opportunity to put our selling skills into action. So we don’t enjoy ourselves quite as much!
From our point of view objections are opportunities to sell to put our skills into action.
From the customer’s point of view, the objection may be one of a number of things:
- A genuine lack of understanding – we might not have put our case as clearly as we could have.
- A need for more information – we might not have told him/her enough to make a decision easily.
- A genuine desire to defer making a decision – we might not have found out something about the specific reason which he/she feels is stopping her/him from saying yes now.
- Customer has not been sold – we just have not done our job as effectively as we should have.
- A closing signal – she/he might not be the type of person who says ‘Yes’ easily. She/he wants to buy but needs some reassurance from us that they are making the right decision!
Whatever the customer’s reason for objecting, there are basically two things which we have to achieve:
- The right attitude towards objections – find out what is the real reason for objecting.
- The right answer to the objection – sell the benefits of our product which will overcome it.
It may be that you find yourself facing the same objection often.
If this happens, there may be something in your presentation which is causing it, or it might be your attitude, in the way you present to your customers. If this is so, try another approach to that part of your presentation. If there is a part of your presentation causing objections, which you cannot change, then preempt the objection before that part of the presentation – in other words, answer it before it becomes an objection!
There is no single answer to any one objection.
To select the best answer we need to take a number of things into account:
- At which point in the sale did it come up?
- Is it a real objection, an imagined objection, or is it false (smokescreen)?
- How often has the customer made the objection? – If more than once, then maybe the first answer wasn’t right for her/him.
- Was it just a passing remark or something on which he/she has a firm conviction?
- Should you answer it immediately or say that you will answer it later (and do answer it later!).
- Consider the personality of the person raising the objection.
- The customer does not contribute to the conversation
- Answers to questions are short
- The customer does not agree with you
- You find it difficult to establish an area of dissatisfaction – everything in their garden is rosy
- The customer does not ask you questions
- You struggle to keep the conversation going
WHEN I SAY NO I MEAN CONVINCE ME
Sometimes, a customer will say “no” automatically without really considering their response. This is because it is easier to say no than it is to say yes. “No” might be a defensive gesture, it relieves the customer of the responsibility of saying yes. “Yes” is a response that carries responsibility.
A buyer will be inclined to say no if:
- They are new to the company
- They lack confidence
- Your organisation does not leave a track record with the customer’s company
- Your product is untried by similar companies
- They are worried about the reaction of users of the product or service
- They are worried about whether they have negotiated the best price
- They are concerned about making the wrong decision
- They want to avoid making a commitment of their time or money
It’s normal for customers to have concerns, they may have a good reason to hesitate and your response must reassure them that they are ‘doing the right thing’. An objection can be a need for more information or more simply a false objection. We have a technique which helps identify the objection or whether it is a smokescreen. The technique is:
ACKNOWLEDGE – DEFER- ANSWER
Objection as a link to an open question.
“Where do you buy your products at the moment?”
“What is it that your current suppliers are offering that makes you stay loyal to them?”
“What types of product are you using at the moment?”
“Where do you find most of your business comes from at the moment?”
“How did you come to that decision?”
“How do you mean?”
“Is ……..your only concern?”
“It’s too expensive compared to what?”
“How far are we away from agreeing on this?”
“Cost aside for the moment, how good a proposal is this to you?”
Use the table below to plan your responses to objections:
|Objection||Question used to acknowledge objection||Statement to counter objection|
Objection; signpost that you will be answering it later in the sale.
“ I appreciate what you’re saying and I have some information about our product which I’ll come onto later…….”
“ I agree that is an important point but let me deal with that in a minute”
Deal with the objection before moving on with the sale. Also, whatever the objection, it should be dealt with clearly and concisely, so that both you and
the customer know exactly what the true position is. Whichever answer you decide to use, it should be logical – to both you and the customer, it should be common sense and it must be factual.
Your answer should be a true feature – with its related benefit to the customer – about the product.
It could be:
- Something about the physical ‘make up’ of the product.
- A related feature – e.g. finance options, etc.
- Market research – including statistics.
- Testimonial – “it worked for them – it can work for you”.
- A logical forecast of what will happen if she/he buys.
To answer objections effectively, there are several golden rules to follow: These are:
- Listen to the customer – so that you know exactly what he/she is talking about (don’t assume you know what he/she is going to say and interrupt – you might be wrong). Listening can also lessen the chances of an argument occurring.
- Qualify – decide whether the comment is really an objection or just an excuse – ask “Why do you feel that way?”
- Never discuss an excuse – you will never answer it successfully. Always welcome an objection – it shows that you have an answer.
- Restate the objection using a different phrase – to confirm that you are both talking about the same thing. This also gives you the opportunity to isolate the objection to find out if the stated objection is, “…..the only thing that is stopping us from going further?”
- Answer the objection briefly – the more concise your answer, the more effective it will be (if you go on for too long, he/she might think you are trying to evade his point).
- Commit on answer – make sure she/he understands, and is satisfied with your answer. Has your approach successfully handled their objection? If it hasn’t, you need to clarify why. Often it is because there is another underlying objection which should now come to the surface and enable you to handle it by repeating the above steps.
- Go back into the sale at the point which you left it or attempt to close if applicable.
To understand how to handle objections we need to understand what the customer is saying ‘yes’ to during the sale before he/she will go ahead and buy. We call these buying decisions and can be categorised as:
- NEED – does the customer have a need for your product or service?
- PRODUCT – do they feel that your type of solution is valid?
- VEHICLE – do they think your product is right for them?
- SOURCE OF SUPPLY – will they use your company or one of your competitors?
- PRICE – do they perceive it as value for money?
- TIME – do they need to buy it now?
If we keep to the steps of the sale, we should have covered all of these. Before we can answer the objection we need to ensure we fully understand the nature of the
objection. To achieve this we need to question the objection to enable us to categorise it.
Answering the Objection
Customer: (objection) “Your prices seem high and I think I should shop around and compare prices before l place my order.”
Doug: “I am sure that you will be satisfied with our product. Will a Friday delivery date be okay?”
In this example Doug was not listening. He did not hear the customer’s objection and as a result tried to move the sale along. Doug deserves credit for trying to get the order but there is not much point when the customer’s objection goes unanswered.
If you have isolated the objection as a true reason for not buying then this may be the answer you need:
Customer: (Objection) “I think I should compare prices before placing an order.”
Helen: “O.K. you’ve said that price is the only thing that’s stopping you from making the decision to buy. That’s fine. Our customers tell us we offer the best prices because we will match all competitors costs. We recently lowered prices on the model you are considering, and it continues to carry the best warranty in the industry. If you place your order now, we could deliver it early next week. How does that sound to you?”
When listening always pay attention to voice inflection. It communicates a great deal. Suppose the customer says, “Your delivery dates are unbelievable.” If the customer made this statement in an assertive voice, you would interpret it as an objection. If delivered in a cheerful voice, the customer has probably paid a compliment. Customers will let you know when they object to something, and their objections will usually be direct and to the point. Your job is to listen closely