Last month we started to discuss the process of handling objections. Objections should be recognized when a customer says something like, “I need to think it over,” “I need to shop around,” “I’ll be back,” etc. When a customers gives an objection, they are telling you they are not convinced. This tells you that something is going on in the sales presentation. The primary reason a sale is made is based on trust and value; therefore, a sale is lost due to a lack of trust, value or both. The reasons for the lack of trust and/or value are numerous. Every selling situation is different.
I know in some cases the customer does come back, but as long as you have the customer in the store you should give the sale your very best effort. A fact that the professional salesperson must realize is that up to 60% of all objections given are false reasons for not buying. I believe as much as 70% of the time the objection is truly something to do with price, the customer is too embarrassed to tell you.
Most salespeople handle objections one of two ways, both of which are incorrect. One way is to hand the customer a business card and tell him/her to see them when they decide to come back. In this case the salesperson is inviting the customer to leave. A more aggressive salesperson may start with: “What other information do I need to give you,” or “If I could get it for you for less would you buy it today?” The customer may take offense to your arguing, or defending the store and the merchandise. Which will cause the customer not to come back even if they were intending to.
Remember the following important statement: No customer has never changed their mind from a “no” to a “yes” based on the information already given. Your job as a salesperson is to present new information to the customer in order to get them to change their mind.
Types of Objections
There are two types of objections; the stall, and the specific objection. In order to handle the objection and save the sale, you must identify the type of objection given and solve the situation.
A stall – May or may not be true. For example; I’ll be back, I need to talk to my spouse, This is the first place I’ve shopped, I am concerned about the price, etc. may be classified as a stall. When you get one of these use the objection handling process that is detailed in this article. It may be that the customer hasn’t been completely honest with you. If they have been honest and really do intend to come back, then you won’t have upset them to the point where they will never come back thru arguing or defending.
A specific – Is probably true. It’s the wrong color, shape, size, etc. In this case go back to the needs assessment, ask more questions, re-demo and re-close. You wouldn’t get the wrong size, shape, color, etc. if you had asked what size, shape, color, etc. If the customer says it is the wrong price, you need to handle this objection using the objection handling process. The reason for this is you don’t know yet if the customer is objecting to value or budget.
Remember that people think that the price of everything is too high until value has been established. An objection to price is an objection to one of two different specific issues either value or budget.
Objection Handling Process
There are seven basic steps to handling objections, both stalls and specifics. Through these steps you will be able to determine if your customer is giving you a stall or specific objection and what the true objection is. Once you have learned this information you will be able to address the customer’s concerns, possibly solve the reason they are objecting and make the sale.
1) Listen to the entire objection. The last thing that you want to do is interrupt the customer in the middle of their objection. They are giving you their concerns, and want and need to be heard. Most customers have one defensive shield and you should repeat back this shield verbatim. Don’t give the customer a new defense that they can come back with. I don’t believe there is anything more important to a customer than being heard.
2) Acknowledge the objection. By acknowledge, I mean you need to verbally let the customer know you really heard their concern and are about to address the issue. Through repeating back the objection, “I can appreciate you needing to talk to your spouse” or “I understand that you are concerned about price,” the customer will know they were heard and you can empathize with their concerns.
3) Give agreement. By giving agreement you will let the customer know that they aren’t in for an argument. There is, however, a fine line between agreement and agreeing. Should the customer say that they need to look around, agreeing would be saying, “Yes, you should look around.” By giving agreement the professional would say, “I can understand you feel you should look around, it’s a big decision isn’t it?” This step is designed to get the customer to say, “Yes.”
4) Relieve resistance. Your customer may have some leftover fear, resistance, or tension in them that will need to be eliminated before the purchase can be completed. You can easily relieve their resistance and ease their tension by saying, “Before you go, can I ask you a quick question?” By saying before you go, you are letting the customer mentally off the hook, however you still have them physically in the store. In this way they may be more willing to tell you the true objection. In asking, can I ask you a quick question, the customer will always say “yes.” The issue becomes, what is the question? I like to ask; “Did you like the __? The answer will be either yes or no. If the answer is no, you have the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding. If the answer is yes, reconfirm how beautiful the piece is by asking, “It is a gorgeous__ isn’t it?”
5) Review NA=A/DA. Through reviewing the elements of NA=A/DA (needs assessment gets you answers, so demonstrate the answers) you will be able to clarify that you understood what the customer needed and wanted, and you demonstrated those needs and wants. At this point, your customer could tell you whether or not their objection was true. For example, “How did you feel about the six prong platinum head?” If they say they liked it, reconfirm how the head will benefit them. Should they say that they are not sure, you can explain the benefits further. Should the customer agree to everything you showed during the demonstration and confirmed it during this process, confront them head on with; “How did you feel about the price?” The price will either be fine or too high. Should the price be fine then increase the value.
6) Increase the value. This is the time to pull out your cannon. The customer may have to have more value added in order to complete the transaction. Back in the demonstration step I told you to save your best for last. It is now time to use your most powerful FBA. Remember that your most powerful cannon may be another company story. For example, I also wanted to mention that we have a trade-in, trade-up policy, or your return policy, or free appraisals, etc. Should the price be too high, then address the price.
7) Address the price. Now, and only now, is the time to address the price issue. It is also the time to determine whether the price concern is in fact a question of value or budget. The single most effective way to determine which price objection you need to address is asking: “Is the price of this particular __ too high, or is it more than you wanted to spend today?” “Is the price of this particular item too high,” will tell you if it is a question of value. “Is it more than you wanted to spend,” will tell you if it is a question of budget.
If they respond that the price of the item is too high, (value) it is time to add value with your most powerful FBA or Company Story.
Through “is it more than you wanted to spend today,” they will tell you if it is a question of budget or money.
If they respond that the price of the particular item is too high, it is up to you to fix it. How you fix it is different for every customer. You may need to show them a less expensive item, or add value to the item.
Sell the lower-priced item on its own merit, with its own FBAs that fit the needs of the customer. They may ask you “Does it have this? or “Does it have that? The only answer is “No, unfortunately it doesn’t.” If they really want the features and benefits of the higher-priced item, figure out a way for them to have it. A little value and creativity can go a long way.
If they respond, “it is more than I wanted to spend” you will know that the item is not within their budget. Now is the time to ask the question, “How much did you want to spend?” Their answer will tell you what you need to do next. They will say, “I didn’t want to spend over (X) amount of money.” You can then show your customer an item that fits their budget.
A key to handling objections is to realize that you may uncover the true objection at any point during the objection-handling process. Once the true reason for not going ahead with the transaction has been determined, the only answer is to “fix it.” You will either need to add value with a new reason to buy, or address the price issue, and close the sale again.
It is also very important to note that in my objection-handling process I gave them a response to each of their answers to my questions in the NA=A/DA review. It is vital at this point in the selling process that your customer knows that they are being heard.
Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Huisken has authored several books and training manuals on sales and produces a Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.iastraining.com.