By Gary Coon
This methodology will enable you to close on the final objection. I define the final objection as the root cause of a customer’s concern. Because objections can lie within objections, and a prospect’s true concern is often embedded in a maze of dubious dialogue, it is important that a salesman master techniques that will enable him to unearth the real objection.
Trying to overcome an objection without knowing the root concern(s) makes closing the sale more a function of luck than skill. Anyone familiar with skill and luck will tell you that with skill comes a high degree of certainty; luck—well, with luck you can win the lottery so you don’t need skill. What I am about to share with you is a methodology that will enable you to uncover your prospect’s root concerns, making it easier to overcome their objections more effectively and with less anxiety on your part.
There are seven steps (or procedures) you pursue when dealing with a client’s objection. They are as follows:
- Agree with the prospect.
- Confirm the desire to own the product.
- Rephrase, soften or clarify the objection.
- Qualify the objection.
- Create a mind-set.
- Overcome the objection.
- Ask for the order.
Let’s examine these one at a time, and then we will use them to overcome common objections.
Agree with the prospect
Any time a prospect voices an objection, it is a wise move to agree with it. The value you gain from agreeing with the prospect is that it throws him off guard. Generally when a prospect gives you an objection, he expects an argument. When you don’t offer him one, his automatic defense mechanism doesn’t engage. And if you can keep his defenses down, the lines of communication are much easier to keep open, and the sale much easier to make.
The manner in which you agree with the prospect is also important. For instance, if he says, “It costs too much,” you reply, “Well of course it does.” If he declares, “I never make a decision the first night,” you say, “Why of course you don’t.” If his objection is “I don’t think I can afford it,” you respond, “Well, perhaps not.”
Note that if the objection is, “I don’t think I can afford it,” your response is not “Well of course you can’t.” In this case the prospect might feel you are forming a judgment about something you know very little about, and he may take offense to this presumption. The rule is this: you can agree with the prospect’s affirmation about how he conducts his business or how he makes decisions, but should he suggest that his reluctance to buy is due to his personal finances, I suggest you tread gently.
Confirm the desire to own the product
Sometimes a prospect has no interest in your product, but instead of telling you so, he opts to give you an objection like “It costs too much” or “I can’t afford it” or something of that nature. I am not completely sure why prospects just don’t come out and say, “I really don’t want it,” thereby saving everyone a lot of time, but they don’t. Perhaps they believe they are just being polite. In any case, when you receive their initial objection, you agree with it (as indicated earlier), and then you say, “If (restate their objection) is not a concern right now, do you at least like the idea of having conditioned water in your home (or having it for your family, or whatever)? If they say “not really,” you have just saved yourself a lot of time and effort. If they say, “Why yes, of course,” you know to proceed enthusiastically. I would like to point out that this step need only be used on the first objection you receive. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your product, this step need not be repeated should you find yourself dealing with subsequent objections.
Rephrase, soften or clarify the objection
Prospects frequently dress their concerns in language that is often hostile, unreasonable and combative. For instance, “I never make a decision the first night,” is for most of us an extremely unreasonable position to take. And the tone that it creates is not conducive to open, intelligent discussion. Therefore, it is important to rephrase the prospect’s objection in such a way as to diffuse any hostility inherent in the language, thus recreating a more rational atmosphere in which to communicate. Also, if you rephrase their objection in the form of a question that elicits a clarification on their part, it’s often easier to get to the root of the matter.
Here’s an example. The customer says, “I never make a decision the first night.” You say, “Just to clarify my thinking Sir, when you say, ‘I never make a decision the first night,’ do you mean that whenever you are offered a proposal such as this one, that you always feel it wise to take a little more time to analyze the proposal? Or is it that perhaps you have taken action on a similar proposal in the past and have gotten burned? Or is it something else?” Always ask an open-ended question, so that if you haven’t accurately guessed his concern, you give him an opportunity to elaborate and enlighten you.
Qualify the objection
When you qualify the objection, you ask the prospect if there are any reasons other than the one(s) they have voiced that would keep them from accepting your offer. This step is important because you need to smoke out all of the prospects objections in order to make the sale. It is also true that many customers will give you a bogus objection up front in the hope of hiding their real feelings. This qualifying step often unearths the real/final objection, affording you the best opportunity for dealing with the matter and closing the sale.
Creating a mind-set
Before any two people can effectively communicate, they must have a basic understanding of the meaning expressed by each other’s words. For instance, if I talk about the concept of justice, I need to know how your idea of justice differs or is similar to mine before I can hope to derive any benefit from our conversation.
Along with defining the words and phrases I intend to use in a closing attempt with a customer, I will also endeavor to ascertain his values given the matters at hand. Once we have agreed on terms, and I have ascertained his values, I can fashion an appropriate close that is most likely to be effective at making him take action on my offer.
Overcome the objection
This is the point at which you choose the most appropriate closing scenario you feel will prompt your client to take action. In most cases, your sales manager or sales trainer has provided you with closing stories that will, with little alteration, work effectively at overcoming your prospect’s objection. Sometimes, however, you have to make it up as you go along.
Ask for the order
This step speaks for itself. I do recommend you ask for the order in such a way that solicits a decision from your prospect regarding either choosing from a selection of items you are offering or making a choice regarding one or two possible delivery dates.
I am going to give you a couple of examples showing how this technique is applied. With a little imagination, you should be able to use this technique in any business that deals with most any product.
Objection Example 1
Customer: I really enjoyed your presentation, Mr. Salesman, but my wife and I have to think about it. If you give us your card, we’ll get back to you.
(Agree and confirm desire)
Salesman: Why of course you want to think about. But permit me a question, Sir. Whatever it is that you wish to consider aside, do you at least like the idea of having soft water in your home?
Customer: Why, yes I do.
(Rephrase and clarify)
Salesman: I see. Well, just to clarify my thinking, Sir, when you say you want to think about it, what is it that you wish to think about: the integrity of my company, the money, or is it something else?
Customer: Well, Mr. Salesman, don’t take this personally, but I have never heard of your company and I need a few days to check out your firm.
Salesman: That is certainly a legitimate concern, Sir, but let me ask you this: If you were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my firm is everything that I represented it to be, meaning that we are entirely reputable and widely respected, would there be any other reason why you wouldn’t accept my offer this evening?
Customer: No, that’s my only concern. (Create the mind-set)
Salesman: You know, Mr. Customer, my company has been in business for over 40 years, and in that time if our representatives misrepresented our products, or if our company routinely failed to fulfill its commitment to our customers, someone would have surely complained to either the BBB or the Attorney General’s office by now, don’t you think?
Customer: That’s what I intend to find out. (Overcome the objection and ask for the order)
Salesman: Mr. Customer, I feel that everyone should be in possession of that kind of information before making an investment of this nature, but I would also like to process your order as quickly as possible so that you don’t have to live without the luxuries of conditioned water any longer than is necessary. So, my suggestion is this: I just happen to have the number of the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s office with me. Let me leave them with you, and in the meantime I will process your order for a piece of equipment that we can tentatively install on Saturday of this week, pending your investigation of our company. If you can find anything negative about my product, or my company, the entire deal is off. Is that fair enough?
Customer: That seems reasonable.
Salesman: Great. Should I have the work crew here Saturday morning, or is Saturday afternoon better for you and Mrs.
Customer? Now let’s try something a bit more complicated.
Objection Example 2
Customer: It seems like a good system, but we are going to have to think about it.
(Agree and confirm desire.)
Salesman: Of course you do, Mr. Customer, but permit me a question. Everything aside, do you at least like the idea of having conditioned water in your home?
Customer: Yes, I do, but I just need some time to think about it.
(Rephrase and clarify)
Salesman: Just to clarify my thinking Sir, when you say that you want to think about it, is it the monthly investment, or the overall price of the equipment, or is it something else?
Customer: No, it’s just that my wife and I decided a long time ago that we would never make a decision to buy something on the first night that it was presented to us.
(Rephrase and clarify)
Salesman: I see. Well, Mr. Customer, when you say that you never make a decision the first night, is it perhaps because you would feel more comfortable if you checked us out with the Better Business Bureau, or is it something else?
Customer: It’s just how we are.
Salesman: I understand. If you wouldn’t mind indulging me just a little, may I ask, if it were not for the need to reconsider my offer on another day, is there any other reason for not providing your family with the many benefits of conditioned water?
Customer: No, we just don’t make a decision the first night.
(Create the mind-set)
Salesman: Mr. Customer, do you think that where your family’s welfare is concerned, if you were faced with two alternatives, one alternative is clearly a benefit to your family, and the other clearly is not, you would, without hesitation, choose the alternative that would be of benefit?
Customer: Why of course I would, but what does that have to do with this?
Salesman: Well, Mr. Customer, if your daughter returned home from school one day with a note from the PTA wadded up in her little hand, and the note read that school officials were uncertain as to the quality of the food served in the cafeteria, how long would it be before you packed her a lunch?
Customer: Why, I would do it immediately.
Salesman: Why would you do that Sir?
Customer: I care about the food my family eats because I care about my family’s health.
(Overcome the objection)
Salesman: Of course you do. I’m certain most every parent does. But you know, Mr. Customer, we have already determined that your water is of questionable quality, and your body can’t tell the difference between what you eat and what you drink. Now I can’t do anything about the quality of the food that your child is eating in the cafeteria, but I can see that she has a decent drink in the morning, and right now, that’s what is most important to you in isn’t it?
Customer: You’re right, it is. Sign us up. (Ask for the order)
Salesman: Congratulations and welcome to the healthier, cleaner and thriftier world of conditioned water. Would you like the unit installed tomorrow morning or is tomorrow afternoon best?
In this example, the objection, “I want to think about it,” was merely a cover-up for the real objection, “I never make a decision the first night,” which for some, is a precaution to discourage impulse buying. As you exercise the use of this closing methodology, you will come across situations when one objection leads to another. In this instance, once you become aware of a subsequent objection, you simply back up to step number three and begin again. Keep repeating the process until you get to the final/real objection.
Using this closing methodology is easy and effective, but the real skills at play are the theatrical quality of your delivery and how you fashion your final remarks into an irresistible offer. And just because you can overcome any objection doesn’t mean you’ll always make the sale. But if you utilize this methodology as part of your closing strategy, you will make more of them. Good luck, good selling and, above all, have a great day!
About the author
Gary Coon, a 16-year veteran of the water conditioning industry, has successfully trained hundreds of water treatment sales professionals. His seminars, ‘What They Mean by What They Say’ and ‘The Theater of Selling Water’ offer instruction in closing methodologies and presentation techniques. Learn more by visiting www.theonecallclose.com