Objections: A Point of View
Objections are usually inevitable. Sales objections can be defined as statements or questions raised by the prospect which may indicate a reluctance to buy. Objections often happen throughout the selling process anywhere from the greeting to the closing. In fact, I’ve had customers walk into my store with an objection. Realize that objections are merely signs of uncertainty, and the customer needs more information for a reason to buy. Therefore, where there are no objections, there are often no sales.
Think of objections as buying signs, not rejection signs. They are, at worst, opportunity excuses for the buyer not to buy. So, do not fire back or retaliate; take advantage of the situation by realizing that you now have more exact knowledge on how to complete the sale. All we need is corrective action to deal with this new source of information. Learn to recognize customer concerns as a challenge, which when managed correctly, will benefit you and your prospect. Objections are simply the manner in which prospects communicate their buying willingness.
In reality, an objection is simply a sign that the person is thinking seriously about buying from us. Look at it this way: let’s say we are walking through the appliance section of a department store. We pass by a washer and dryer. Would we stop a salesperson and start raising objections about those products if we are not interested in buying them? Probably not. If we don’t want the washer and dryer, what’s the point of objecting? On the other hand, what if we need these appliances? Before we spend the money, chances are we’ll talk with a salesperson and expect him or her to address our concerns and questions to the point that we’ll be comfortable with our buying decision.
When we look at objections from this point of view, we realize they usually represent nothing more than the customer’s indecision or lack of information. With that understanding, we can stop fearing objections. We can start appreciating them for what they really are: opportunities to communicate with our customers in a way that makes them feel good about their buying decision.
So obviously, objections serve a purpose in fulfilling the sale. Objections give the seller insight into what the prospect is thinking and the ability to focus on the key issues that truly concern our buyer. It is the customer’s concerns that allows us to know the next correct step of the sales presentation thus turning objections to our advantage. By being proactive and working with the client to overcome her dilemmas, we can then construct a greater foundation for an enduring based on satisfying the prospect’s expressed needs. When I say enduring, do not forget the customer you sell may return for an additional purchase and send you valuable referrals if they respect and trust you.
Once we receive a valid objection, something we missed during the ongoing qualification process, we are now in need of the best solution. The competent professional is ready. Here is where design competence and proficient product knowledge are essential. If you don’t have this knowledge, acquire it. Still, be wary of using too much product knowledge. Understand she did not come into your store for a trade fair. Her main concern is how your merchandise will look in her beautiful home.
Once a real objection has been raised and appraised, it must be neutralized, but without proving the buyer wrong. Otherwise, the buyer may become even more entrenched in their original beliefs and only more resistance will be met. I have discussed the importance of cushioning in this respect many times in earlier articles. Cushioning is a crucial step in the objection strategy. Suppose our customer raises an objection. Then suppose we say something like, “Ms. Customer, that’s not so. You are crazy to think that.” Obviously, even when we do not agree with the customer, we would not answer her objection in that way. On the contrary, our point is to find a point of agreement – or “cushion” – between the customer and us before we directly address the objection. For example, “Good point! I am glad you brought that up.” What a tremendous way to lower resistance and differentiate ourselves from the competition.
I have had salespeople say to me, “She gives me an objection and you want me to agree with her?” Well, sort of. We are not so much agreeing with the correctness of the objection but that, at this point, the objection is valid to her and that we make her feel understood. Cushioning is simply making what the customer feels and says important. It is a linking statement.
When rebutting your customer’s objection, never use “but”, or worse, “yea, but” statements that negate your empathy and contradict the customer (This is true in life in general). This is especially true when you use “but” as a bridge for new information instead of the cushioning method. As an example of what I am saying consider this objection: “Your price is considerably higher than I expected.” Answer: “Yea but, we offer affordable financing.” Try, “Being concerned about the investment is perfectly normal. “To help you with that, we offer affordable financing.” Do you see how the former “yea, but” implies that the customer is somehow wrong and that you are exercising some form of superiority?
Of course, we often do still need a word that conveys a point of exception rather than “but”. Instead, consider using “still” or “however”. Hence revised, “Being concerned about the investment is perfectly normal. However, we offer affordable financing.” Notably, other times, no point of exception is really needed especially when the cushion is employed. As an example objection, “Will this carpet wear well?” Cushion first, “Good question! This carpet is constructed with a nylon fiber… Does that answer your concern?” (Get agreement.)
The best method of finishing a rebuttal to most objections is by getting agreement on important issues. This does not mean manipulating the customer into repetitiously answering obvious “yes” questions with a “yes” answer. Instead, it is building rapport by making sure that the customer truly understands the meaning of critical points essential to meeting her needs and enhancing worth of the product.
We should not assume that the customer understands or even hears every crucial point we make. So, after an explanation of a question asked you might conclude with: “Does that make sense?” or “Does that answer your question?” These validating questions put you on common ground and make you the trusted advisor while constructively controlling the direction of the sale. Furthermore, this selling formula is also part of a deliberate strategy which will eventually support the closing process. We focus on finding out what is necessary to do business, from beginning to end.
Sometimes after carefully explaining an answer to an objection, I ask, “Does that make sense?” My customer may say something like, “Not really.” Why? She simply wasn’t listening. She was understandably somewhere else in an altered state considering all the various design choices compounding her mind. I then reply, “Well, I know this must be bothering you, allow me to explain again.” This time she listens and her concern is therefore resolved. Otherwise, this concern later reappears in her mind as a roadblock to the sale and I am not around to manage her concern or her decision.
Finally, allow me to discuss the difference between an objection and a condition. A condition is a reason for not buying that exists. An objection is a potential reason for not buying that arises out of our prospect’s lack of understanding and is therefore a request or need for added information.
For example, a condition exists if the customer says, “I am unable to utilize a nail-down installation because I have a concrete subfloor.” This is a strict decline of your offer for a legitimate reason. Unless you can change her situation, she cannot buy because of this condition. Alternatively, an objection is not a legitimate decline of our offer. It is important to recognize that an objection is a situation where the prospect can buy. We must discover the right solutions to acquire her business. That is the reason customers need professional salespeople.
Good selling to you!