An international oil and gas company that operates a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal on Italy’s Adriatic Sea coast recently encountered a...
In the May issue we discussed closing the sale, but what happens if the customer says "No"? The first step in handling objections is to get used to them. We have to realize that almost everyone says "No," at least at first. The big earners are the ones who don’t accept that first "No." Experience shows us that the average person says "Yes" after you have asked him five times to invest in water equipment. That means that if you are making a living by asking only once or twice, you could be making a lot more money. There are some steps to follow that make handling objections much easier.
Step #1: Bypass the Objection
If you have the nerve to try this I know it will add to your success rate. All I am suggesting is that you bypass or ignore the objection the first time you hear it. The principal behind this is the fact that the first thing out of the customer’s mouth sounds like an objection, but it is really just an attempt to slow you down. Have you ever seen a politician answer a question by saying, "I’m glad you asked that." What he is really doing is stalling for a couple of seconds to gather his thoughts. The objection is often just an attempt to slow you down. For example, let’s say you have asked a closing question and the customer says, "That’s a lot of money for a softener." Does this mean they don’t want it? They haven’t actually said "No," so I suggest that you ignore the objection.
Say something like "Yes it is" or "I understand" and just keep on writing the order. In about 40 percent of the cases, the customer will never bring up the objection again because it wasn’t really an objection—but was only a slowing down process—the first thing out of their mouth without thinking. Forty percent of the people will buy even though they gave you an objection if you just ignore it. But what about the 60 percent that really meant it?
What if it was a real objection and the customer says "Now look, you, I said that’s too much money and I’m not buying it." I like to just chuckle and say "I’m sorry. Sometimes I get so excited I go a bit fast. Are you saying it’s too much money?"
Step #2: Release the Pressure
What do you think customers expect your reaction to be when they say "No"? They expect you to be angry and confrontational. But really you want them to relax and be open to ideas. That’s why we suggest you release the pressure. How do you do that? Just start packing up your kit and put your pen away as you mumble about it being too bad the equipment is too much money. Then say something such as, "Before I go, I’d like to ask you one thing off the record." Look at the effect that question and those actions have. The customer assumes you are leaving without a fight. This makes them relax and open up and that is exactly the mood you need them to be in to get the sale.
Step #3: Anything Else?
You cannot solve an objection until you ask if there is anything else. If you try, customers will run you through a gauntlet of multiple objections. You solve one and they have another one ready, so we suggest you ask a question. We will assume for this example that they are not buying because they want to think it over. Use a question something like this: "Before I go, I want to ask you one thing off the record. If it wasn’t for the fact that you need to think it over, did you like our equipment? Other than the fact that you want to think it over, is there anything else keeping you from making a decision tonight?" Most customers eagerly reply that it is just that one thing that is keeping them.
We don’t have space to get into how to solve specific objections in this article, but we will in future articles. However, look at the position you will be in if you learn to follow these techniques. If you try a bypass, 40 percent of the people will go ahead and buy without raising the objection again. The 60 percent who had a real objection are relaxed because you have released the pressure. The customers have basically told you that if you can solve that one problem, there is nothing keeping them from buying tonight. What a great position to be in! In future articles, we will discuss practical ways to solve common objections and get the sale.
About the Author
Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068; www.salesco.net.