Objection handling that DOESN’T work
It’s important to understand what’s going on in our consciousness when we hear an objection. We tend to feel defensive.
Because we’re experience rejection. Rejection leads to feelings of being undermined, debased, even humiliated. And the natural human tendency when we experience a small degree of any of these feelings is defensiveness.
So, what happens next?
The natural behaviour of people who feel defensive is to fight back, to reassert themselves, to argue, or to pretend it’ll go away. If you’ve ever found yourself replying to an objection with anything that sounds like “Yeah, but…”, or getting into a debate about the accuracy of a buyer’s argument, or the prowess of your product, then you’ll know what I mean. Some sales people try to debase their buyer’s position using some degree of ridicule.
However they do it, this kind of adversarial exchange rarely works. And not dealing with an objection by pretending it’s gone away, unimportant, or by burying your head in the sand also won’t work.
Objection handling that DOES work
Once you’ve figured out that treating your buyer as an adversary doesn’t work, you’re probably wondering how you can possibly become a helpful ally of someone who’s just rejected your sales pitch, cold call, or offer.
It’s actually pretty easy and intuitive if you’re the kind of person who understands what life’s all about.
Think about all those arguments you’ve had with friends, family, and (especially) spouses or partners. “You’re just not listening!” Yes, you’ve heard that before, haven’t you? And this is a useful clue that’s vital to good objection handling.
Try this simply process next time anyone objections – either in your sales life or your personal life.
Step 1. Show you’re listening.
People want to be heard. And people who object to something you’ve said or done want to be heard even more.
So, whenever you hear an objection, repeat it back out aloud word for word. I mean it.
Don’t just nod and say “Mhmm” or “Ah, I see.” Don’t even paraphrase.
Simply repeat back exactly what you’ve heard out aloud and word for word. And write it down to reinforce the fact you’ve heard and to refer to it in future.
This has some powerful effects. It demonstrates to your buyer that you’re genuinely listening. And that, in turn, disarms a lot of the potential conflict.
Step 2. Normalise their objection
Once you’ve demonstrated you heard their objection, ask yourself this: Is their objection normal?
By “normal”, I simply mean: Is their objection one you’ve heard before and one you’d expect to hear? If the answer’s “yes” then let them know.
“Ooh, yes, I’ve heard people say that before.”
“Lots of people tell me a similar thing.”
“I understand that objection because it’s actually quite common.”
“You’re not the only one!”
Try one of those phrases or think of your own. Better still, incorporate the words they used in their original objection.
The powerful effects of normalising objections are twofold: Firstly, it reinforces the disarming effects of treating buyers as your allies. Secondly, if disciplines you to properly answer or deal with their objection.
Step 2+. Ask for more objections
If you’ve got time and space – for example, if you’re in a face-to-face meeting, or an extended phone call, or in a written reply – try to collect all their objections.
“Is there anything else you think I’d benefit from knowing?”
“What other objections do you have?”
Anything like that will work. What’s important is to treat each one in exactly the same way as the first objection – repeat it back word for word then normalise it.
A good test to see if you’ve collected every objection is the Trial Close. That’s simply checking, “If I could satisfactorily deal with each of your objections, or if they were to magically go away, would you then be happy to go ahead?”
Step 3. Properly deal with their objections!
Once you’ve acknowledged their objections and reassured them that they’re not a weirdo for objecting, now’s the time to properly deal with them.
This is not a chance to fob them off, distract them with lots of other benefits, or make them believe their objections don’t really exist.
It’s a chance – actually it’s a wonderful and useful chance – to understand exactly what they mean with their objection, analyse it together with them, ask clarification questions, and then share what other buyers who’d had similar objections actually experienced.
It pays to know what your clients actually think of what they’ve bought, of course. But, even if you don’t, facing a common objection is a great opportunity to find out. You can find out by asking. Ask those customers themselves. Ask the sales person involved. Ask customer excellence or service people. And share this knowledge with your buyer. The more open and helpful you are, the more educated and trusting your buyer will become.
Be open to discussion about their experiences. You might even be able to collect more objections to deal with. Again, follow the formula of demonstrable listening and normalising. And check if you’ve satisfactorily dealt with their objection.
You won’t always be able to eliminate an objection because, for example, your product might well be slow to deliver, your sales process might be time consuming, your costs are higher than your competitors or their budgets, etc. But you can at least check with the buyer that you’ve handled their objection satisfactorily.
The powerful effect of properly dealing with objections is that you end up with buyers who are realistic, open, and collaborative.
Step 4. Close
If you’ve done all that, then the ultimate way to check it worked is to try to close. All that means is asking for whatever’s the next step in your sales process, for example, the order, the appointment, the introduction, or the opportunity to quote.