How to Handle Objections in 6 Easy Steps
Many salespeople think of objections as a bad thing, but that's missing the big picture. If a prospect raises an objection, that's not necessarily a bad thing. At the very least, the prospect is interested enough to engage in conversation with you, instead of politely smiling and saying, "No thanks."
Actually, the fact that someone is bringing up a concern means that you have a chance to find an answer for them. People who are completely uninterested in buying your product would not waste their time objecting. Or completely uninterested prospects will sit through your presentation in silence (with arms folded) and then send you away. As a salesperson you're probably already aware that the body language of folded arms translates to "the door is closed, stay away."
The important thing when you hear an objection is to address it right away in a thorough and professional manner. If you don't resolve the specific objection, the prospect won't be able to move any further along in the sales process. And, whatever you do, don't take his or her objection personally.
- Listen to the Objection Before Handling It: Don't jump all over the prospect as soon as he or she says, “But what about...?” Give the person a chance to explain the concern exactly. And don't just tune out the prospect. Instead, listen to the message being delivered. Communications experts say you're to listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time. It's also important to validate your listening skills by making a clear, appropriate statement back to the prospect to show that you were listening. For example, if the prospect has said that several of the features were things she did not need, you respond with, "Tell me what features and benefits would work better for you. Perhaps we have a different model that suits your needs better."
- Say It Back to the Prospect: When you're sure the prospect is done talking, look thoughtful for a moment and then repeat back the gist of what they've said. Say something like, “I see that you're concerned about maintenance costs. Is that the case?” This shows that you were listening and affords the prospect the opportunity to agree or clarify. If the prospect responds, “It's not so much the cost I'm worried about as the downtime,” then you can address (hopefully resolve) that issue
- Explore the Reasoning: Sometimes the first objections aren't the prospect's real concern. For example, many prospects don't want to admit that they don't have enough money to buy your product, and will raise a host of other concerns instead. Before you launch into answering an objection, try this strategy—ask a few exploratory questions, such as, “Has product downtime been a big issue for you? How has it affected you in the past?” Draw the prospect out a bit, allowing him the time to broach the money issue. The longer you engage with the prospect, the more comfortable he will become, and the more he will open up to you. Ultimately, you may also be able to offer several solutions, including providing financing, developing a payment plan, explaining the return on investment, or discussing the value
- Answer the Objection: Once you understand the objection completely, you can answer it. A customer who raises an objection is expressing fear. Your biggest task at this point is to alleviate that fear. If you have a specific story, such as an example from an existing customer, by all means, share that. If you have concrete statistics, or a current news story, share them. Hard facts—and something the client can look up online—will make your response more authentic.
- Check Back With the Prospect: Take a moment to confirm that you've answered the prospect's objection fully. Usually, this step is as simple as saying, “Does that make sense?” or “Have I answered all of your concerns?” If she answers affirmatively, you can move on to your next step. If she seems to hesitate or acts uncertain, this signals that you may not have fully resolved her concerns. If this happens, go back to an earlier step and try again. But, don't be shy about it. Simply say, "Let's back up for a moment and see if we can clear up all of your concerns."
- Redirect the Conversation: Bring the prospect back into the flow of the sales process. If you're in the middle of your presentation when the prospect raises his objection, then once you've answered it, quickly summarize what you'd been talking about before you move on. If you've finished your pitch, check if the prospect has any other objections, and then start closing the sale.
The good news is, objections are not a sign of rejection. People want to feel good about their purchases, whether business or personal. They want to be sure they made the right decision. Sometimes an objection is really the prospect saying, “Tell me why your product is so great, so I can feel good about my purchase.”