It’s said that expert salespeople look forward to objections, as these give them the information they can use to close a sale. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked objections. Objections are, well, objections. Sure, you can memorize facts and figures to counter false perceptions of the performance, quality and price of your product or service. That can help. But there are always buyers who can’t keep from pointing out every little thing they don’t like. And they’re persistent about it.
When I was growing up in Texas I worked at a gas station. In those full-service days, we pumped gas, aired tires, checked oil and washed windshields. There was one customer who always stayed inside an air-conditioned car and “helped” me by pointing to every little smudge on the windshield. It seems that same annoying customer followed me throughout my sales career. But instead of getting all steamed up, I learned to use three methods to handle all those objections.
- The Improv Method
This is particularly good for price objections. One of the primary techniques of improv comedy is to accept what someone else says and then expand on it. It’s called the “Yes, and…” Applied to sales, you accept the customer’s version of reality and add information in a collaborative way. If they only know 60% of ground truth about something, you add the remaining 40%. For example, in response to “Your price is too high,” you might reply, “Yes, that’s a lot of money, and here’s why…”
- The Diplomat Method
In my military career, I spent a lot of time working with Foreign Service officers. I have the utmost respect for them and how they calmly work through tangled and contentious issues. When presented with a clearly awful proposal from someone else, a good diplomat starts by finding something positive to say about it that can be agreed upon at a high level (“Your observation about this issue is important”), then acknowledging the proposal without judgment (“Your proposal is very interesting”) and then revealing their own proposal without negativity (“Have you considered this approach?”). Repeat as needed.
- The Feel Felt Found Method
The F/F/F method is the classic approach to objections. Some of the more experienced salespeople balk a little when I bring this up, wanting something more modern. The reason F/F/F is classic is because it’s been working for ages. It’s a proven, observable technique for success, like slowing down the tempo of your golf swing to hit the ball better. Here’s how it works. To an objection, you first say, “I understand how you feel” and pause to let your empathy sink in. Then you say, “Some of my other customers felt the same way at first” and pause again so they comprehend that their objection is valid. Finally, you say, “Once they implemented our solution they found they got a substantial improvement in …” It’s important not to use “but” or “we” in the last statement, in order to stay positive and enhance those indirect referrals from other customers.
These are three easy techniques to handle objections, right? So why not try them out the next time you get an objection? By the way, these also work at home – sometimes.