SIX STEPS TO HANDLING OBJECTIONS
by Dorothy Leeds
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to glide through objections easily, comfortably, and with success? Objections are the bane of most financial advisors and salespeople. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid them – you must answer them satisfactorily to close the sale. To do this successfully, you first have to change your perception of objections — think of them as collaborations between you and your prospect. They give you an opportunity to find out information necessary to close the deal. If your prospect objects to one particular aspect of a financial product, wouldn’t it be better for both of you to find her a product that better meets her needs?
Most salespeople try to convince prospects that they are wrong by telling them about all the good qualities of their product or service. If you have done this, you know it just doesn’t work. The most effective strategy is one where you are looking out for the prospect’s best interests. By viewing objections as a collaboration, you are working to match the product or service with the customer, all while closing the deal. The best way to do this is the 6-Step Objection Handling Process:
1. Be an active listener.
2. Ask the client to explain the objection to you.
3. Isolate the objection.
4. Set up the ground rules.
5. Answer the objection with benefits.
6. Confirm the answer.
In my seminars I ask the participants which of these steps they are best at and they invariably answer “Step 5.” In fact, most of them reveal that they skip the other five steps. The other steps are crucial, however, because they let you know what the real objections are and how important they are to your prospect. You can’t talk about the benefits that are most important to the prospect until you know what her true objections are. This process helps you be less of a pushy salesperson and more of an advisor — a much better way to assure a happy customer and a profitable ongoing relationship.
1. Be an active listener. Let the prospect know you hear and understand her concerns. Never argue, or put the prospect on the defensive. Ask yourself, "Does it help me make the sale to know how the prospect feels?" The answer to that question is always yes. A simple statement such as "That's a valuable point," or "I understand how you feel" can let the prospect know you and he are on the same side. Don't interrupt, or assume you know what the prospect's going to say, even if you've heard this objection many times before. Ask yourself these questions, “What am I assuming?” “What am I really hearing?” “What is this person doing as well as saying?” Listen with your eyes and ears. Concentrate.
2. Ask the prospect to explain the objection to you. Ask yourself, "Do I fully understand the problem here?" If a prospect says, "I really hadn't planned on investing that much right now" ask "Could you clarify your concern?" or "What do you mean?" She might say, "Well, I am prepared to invest a smaller amount, but some of my other funds are tied up right now." Then you know she wants to work with you but there is a legitimate reason she can’t take your current suggestion. You can then move on to a more appropriate course of action. But if she says, "I mean I hadn't planned on investing this much money," then she has revealed that her major concern is the overall amount.
If you hadn't asked her to clarify her objection, you'd have wasted a lot of time trying to sell her the advantages of a financial product she didn't want or need. Once you know she's what she’s really objecting to, you can continue to establish value for her. Most importantly, sincerely ask for clarification. If you come off sounding like a commercial the prospect will tune you out.
3. Isolate and prioritize the objection. Ask yourself, "Is this the only thing preventing this sale? Is this the main concern?" You might say to the prospect, "That's a good point. In addition to that, do you have any other concerns or questions I should be addressing?" or "I understand how you feel. Other than that, is there any other reason for not going ahead today?" Ask the prospect to prioritize his objections. Deal with his most important concern first and the others may disappear if you answer it satisfactorily.
4. Set up the ground rules. Once you've clarified and isolated the objection, set up the ground rules for closing the sale. You might say, "If you were convinced that this wasn't really a problem, then we could get started today?" or "If you felt that this question had been answered to your satisfaction, then could we go ahead today?"
This works because most people are basically fair. If you set up the ground rules, most people will adhere to them. But, don’t rush it. This step works best if you are calm and patient.
5. Answer the objection with tailored benefits. Ask yourself, "Do I know which benefits are most important to this person?" A sale is a series of smart questions to uncover needs and wants. The more you can tie your product or service into the prospect's needs, the fewer objections you'll hear. Because you have listened and clarified the objection, you can be sure that the benefits you offer will not fall on uninterested ears. Your prospect or client wants to hear these benefits and features. One of the key reasons to ask the questions is to only share only those benefits that matter to your customer. Customize your presentation based on what you’ve learned.
6. Confirm the answer. Make sure that you've answered the objection with no misunderstandings. Ask yourself, "Are we both satisfied that the problem has been solved?" Ask the prospect, "Does that answer your question?" or "Does that solve the problem for you?"
Once the answer has been confirmed, keep the sale progressing. Ask yourself, "What's the next logical step forward?" One agreement leads to another. When the prospect agrees that this objection has been handled, keep the sale moving forward by asking a closing question. If you have done the process right, the deal will be closed. If not, find out what other concerns are standing in your way.
Remember, objections are not insurmountable – they are hurdles, not walls. With the right mind set, you can answer them. And, once you do, you will never have to worry about closing again – it will be easy, natural and frequent.
Copyright © 2006 Dorothy Leeds Organizational Technologies