Ned was feeling confident! After meeting twice with his prospective client, Ned knew he had the perfect product for the right situation. He had invested a great deal of time in this case. It could be the biggest single commission of his year. Ned even mentally told himself that his personal reward for closing the deal would be a trip to Hawaii with his family.
He planned the presentation and close with the precision of a tactical S.W.A.T. team. Ned knew exactly how to convince his prospect the benefits were unequaled. No other program could perform as well. But. . . . his prospect said, "It’s too expensive. It’s too complex. I can’t afford it. We’re evaluating another company. I’ll get back to you."
Ned believed he was a good closer, yet he never got the chance to practice. His prospect gave objection after objection. Could the information he’d gained through probing have been that far off? Every time he answered one objection, his prospect came up with another. Ned knew his stuff. He had been selling for a decade.
What could or should he have done?
Your prospects won’t buy until they trust you! People don’t trust products, they trust people.
Even though your prospect trusts you, they may give you objections. Knowing how to recognize an objection or resistance and turn it into a request for information will help you satisfy your prospect and help you close. You are about to learn techniques on turning your prospect’s uneasiness into trust that you will then use to help them buy.
WHY DO YOU GET OBJECTIONS
What is the opposite of love? Unmarried people often state it’s hate. Experienced marriage partners know that indifference is it’s deadly opposite. As long as there is strong positive or negative emotion in a marriage, both partners care. But if either show indifference, all is lost. When indifference takes over, whether in sales or marriage, the sale is permanently gone. Neither one cares enough to try to work things out. A sale works the same way. As long as your prospect gives you resistance to an objection, you know he cares. But if he tries to ignore you or says, "I’m not interested," get back on the phone and look for new business. If you get an objection, consider yourself fortunate. Your prospect cares and is requesting more information.
While at a conference, I was approached by a wholesaler so engrossed with his product that he thought it would sell itself. His only attempt at developing rapport was to ask if I would like a 30 percent annual return on my money. Then, without waiting for my answer, he launched into a four minute monologue. He was startled when I interrupted, "I have no idea what you’re talking about."
You’re sure to get an objection if you talk for more than thirty seconds at a time. If you talk for a longer period, you’re bound to lose rapport. Television commercials are thirty seconds in duration for a very important reason. Television viewers stop watching after thirty seconds. It’s a waste of advertising dollars. The average length of a camera shot is 4.5 seconds. Hollywood is well aware of the human attention span.
THE PERFECT SALE
There are pragmatic reasons why you receive objections. First, you haven’t thoroughly probed your prospect’s needs. The four stages of a perfect sale are: approach, probe, present, and close. The probe is the primary stage. If you find out what your prospect needs, and also what he wants, he will buy from you. Rarely will you receive insurmountable objections from a prospect when you have listened effectively. Few salespeople really listen. They think since they’ve heard the problem before, they already know the answer.
I recently bought a mortgage from a salesperson I thought was excellent. Not only did he find out my needs by asking specific questions to determine my goals, but he also spent the balance of the first interview just listening to my problems. The second time I saw him, he presented ideas I thought were useful in solving some of my "loan to value" problems. Another salesperson I met, the total opposite of his problem-solving colleague, listened to me talk for about four minutes and immediately told me what I needed. While they both probed, one actually tried to get inside my head and ended up more effectively connecting emotionally.
Second, the risk/reward ratio is too close. Your prospect will give you objections if he feels the risk of loss is greater than the rewarding benefits. Often that risk is an expenditure of money or time. The reward should clearly appeal to your prospect’s own ideas of reward, not yours. This comes from knowing what your prospect wants and giving it to her.
Third, the prospect fears making quick decisions. While most states allow a three-day "no regret period" in which a decision may be reversed, a hesitant prospect might simply say, "I just want to think about it." What he’s actually telling you is, "Things are moving too quickly for me. I don’t want to make a fast decision. I need more time."
Do you remember your last big purchase, such as a house or a car? You may have felt buyer’s remorse. This is a significant factor in the purchase of any product or service. You may have had misgivings fearing you didn’t have all the information to make the right decision.
Fourth, your prospect is not convinced that your solution will work. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. "That’s what you say," or "Sounds good, but will it work?" Your prospect is begging you for proof. He is thinking, "If you can back up your claims with facts, I’ll buy."
There are three things your prospect consistently thinks whenever you present a solution:
1) Prove it to me.
2) Prove it to me.
3) Prove it to me.
He wants you to prove your claims with stories and statistics. I recently talked with an attendee at one of my presentations who wanted to buy an audio cassette program entitled, "Peak Performance Selling." I explained the benefits of the program and stated that if he used the six tape program, it would increase his sales in 70 percent within six weeks. He lowered his glasses to the bridge of his nose and skeptically looked over the top of them at me. I could tell right away that he wasn’t sure the program would work.
But when I gave him examples of people who had used the approach before and what they achieved, his trepidation turned into acceptance. He grew more enthusiastic and bought the tape package. Fortunately, I proved the product benefits before he produced an objection. I was able to avoid his resistance. Had I not been able to read his skepticism, I would not have been able to make that sale as quickly as I did.
Fifth, your prospect was told to raise an objection. Whether you know it or not, many of your prospects came to you pre-armed with objections, no matter how much they like the product. Their Uncle Howard said, "Don’t let those guys rip you off on that investment like they did me."
There is a way to cash in an objection, no matter what the reason. This eight step formula will help eliminate at least 50 percent of the objections that you come up against in your career.
1) Hear them out.
Most sales pro’s think they already know what the prospect will say before she says it. I once had a prospect who was a senior vice president in a real estate syndication company. I had previously spoken to an associate of his about using me as a speaker at one of his road show seminars. When I asked him if he was still interested in my participation, he said, "Well, your speaking fee is really too high. I’m not sure I can justify it to my boss." I felt like giving him my favorite price/cost counter with, "When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." But instead I bit my tongue and waited until he was through talking. To my surprise, he talked himself out of the objection. He said, "You’re really too expensive for us. But then again, if you weren’t good, I wouldn’t want you. I wouldn’t expect you to be cheap. If you can generate higher broker attendance at these meetings, it’ll be worth it. Okay, let’s do it." He actually answered his own objection. If I had interrupted him, I would have bought it back.
2) Cushion it.
You will make more points with your prospect if he realizes that you fully understand his objections and point of view. Practice a technique called "pacing." Rather than directly answering the objection, repeat it back to your prospect using the same words he used when mentioning it. Mr. Prospect, I understand that seems a little too risky now, I am sure I would feel the same way in your shoes." When he knows you fully understand what he said, he’ll listen much more intently to your answer.
3) Isolate it.
If you haven’t faced a prospect who has given you an objection shopping list yet, you will. Blocking occurs when you simply answer his words without responding to his emotional concerns. For example, "Sam, it’s not in my budget now!" "Well, I understand how it can fit in my budget, but my CPA has advised me against this type of expenditure," or "Yes, but I’ve heard that the service is terrible with these types of companies." To overcome any laundry list of objections he may have, say this, "Mr. Prospect, before I give you an answer, are there any other concerns you have that would prevent you from going ahead with this?" Another way to phrase this is to say, "Are there any other reasons preventing you from moving ahead with this idea?" If he says, "Yes, my wife doesn’t like it," you have a real objection. This technique is an effective way to get to the heart of the concern.
4) Question it.
Never, never, never answer an objection immediately after it is given. Twenty percent of the objections you hear are concerns based on insecurity. The prospect may not think it’s important, but he asked it anyway. Allow him the chance to hear his own logic. A prospect once said, "I don’t use outside speakers at my conferences because of the expense." I thought he was referring to the speaking fee. But when I asked, "What bothers you specifically about the expense?" he answered, "It’s not the fee, it’s the travel expense." Your response could be, "Well, Mr. Prospect, I’ll be in your area that week anyway, so travel expenses will only be about $500. How does that sound?" Ask her to first explain what her objection really means.
5) Confirm criteria.
This technique is excellent for establishing recommitment. Ms. Prospect may state, "It’s too expensive." Your confirming criteria response would be, "Well, I understand you think it’s too expensive. If I could show you, instead, that you can afford it, would you go ahead with the purchase?" If she says, "Yes," you have requalified her intent to buy. If she says, "No," there’s a much bigger objection behind the one she just gave you. Another way of confirming criteria is to refer back to the goals you discovered during the probing phase. "I understand you believe it’s too expensive. However, you told me earlier you wanted a guaranteed price for the next 30 days. Is that correct?" Before you answer the objection, first make sure you know what is important to your prospect.
6) Answer creatively.
Avoid repeating information you’ve already given, or at least rephrase it. When you answer creatively, you show your prospect how to solve the problem. For example, the prospect may come to you with a worry list. When you help relieve your prospect’s burdens, you get more than just a product order. You gain a lifelong referring client. One of the answers to "it costs too much" is, "Ms. Prospect, which is your greatest concern, the price or the cost?" The prospect may reply, "What’s the difference between the two?" Explain that the price is the immediate outlay of cash, but the cost is the immediate expenditure compared to the value you receive in return. In other words, "If this product performs the way I have indicated, would the value you receive be worth the price?" This prevents your prospect from having price myopia.
7) Confirm the answer.
Make sure that you have answered the objection to your prospect’s satisfaction. Confirming the answer maintains trust, and also presents an opportunity for you to close. You may say, "Ms. Prospect, does that alleviate your concern about the price?" or, "Did I answer that to your satisfaction?" Every good speaker knows that after she answers a question from an audience member, she must ask if her question was answered properly. This confirmation reassures your prospect, in her own mind, that it is no longer a concern.
This is the easy part. If you’ve utilized these seven steps is cashing in an objection, your prospect will be ready for you to follow through with the close. Three tried-and-true closes are: The "Implied Consent" or "Assumptive Close," "Alternate of Choice", and the "I Recommend" close.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Okay, let’s put it all together. Each step will fit naturally after you have practiced just a bit. Here’s an example of the steps in a mortgage sale.
HEAR THEM OUT
Prospect: Don, I’d like to think about this and get back to you later.
Salesperson: Sure, but why?
Prospect: Well, the points are just out of sight. I don’t think it’ll work for me right now.
CUSHION IT, ISOLATE IT
Salesperson: I understand that the points seem out of sight. Is this your only concern, or is there something else that is preventing you from going ahead with this?
Prospect: No, it’s just that the points are too high.
Salesperson: Why is this a concern for you?
Prospect: Well, I spoke to another broker last week who had basically the same plan, but with no points.
Salesperson: Well, Don, you said initially that you wanted a low initial interest rate, right? You also said that you were not going to be in your
house for more than five years. Is that correct?
Prospect: Yes, that’s right.
Salesperson: Did the other program offer the same starting rate with no points and the other benefits that we talked about?
Salesperson: That’s actually where the higher rate comes in. I understand that these things are important to you. Did I answer that concern of yours about the payments?
Salesperson: I think you remember us talking about the probability of rates going up in the next 5 years. That’s why, with your history of moving every 8 years, I recommend . . .
Prospect: Great. It sounds like a good idea. I’ll do it!
OBJECTIONS BECOME OPPORTUNITIES
Don’t let your prospect give you a laundry list of objections you shouldn’t have to handle. Stay in control. Make sure that what you say is short and sweet. Cash in on objections. They are the tools high producers use to create satisfied clients. Remember, objections are simply opportunities in disguise. Unmask them, and you and your prospect will both walk away winners.