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Customer's objections offer a window of opportunity for closing the sale.

Until a prospect reveals the truth about what he or she is thinking during the sales process, no salesperson-no matter how good-can move in the direction of closing the sale. Maybe it's a temporary truth, such as "It's more than we want to pay." But for that customer, at that time, you have to take what they say at face value.

Most salespeople cringe when the truth surfaces because it's generally in the form of an objection. The solution to handling objections successfully is to anticipate them in advance so you can convert them into opportunities. If you do this, you'll find that hearing objections won't have such an emotional impact on you. Instead of feeling shaken, you'll feel confident that the prospect is giving you a foundation to stand on as you chip away at the problem.

Here are four ways to anticipate an objection:

1. Keep an objection journal. You'll encounter plenty of objections in your daily meetings with customers. Keeping a list helps you formulate answers to future objections.

The good news about objections is, you either overcome them or you learn something valuable when you don't overcome them. Get in the habit of examining every lost sale. I often write down things I should have said that may work during the next go-around with that customer.

2. Study human nature. Certain types of objections seem to go with particular personalities. Conservative customers who ponder every purchase may object to costs. Brush up on your financial answers before meeting with them. Technically oriented customers may ask mechanical questions. If necessary, take along a technical person from your company on these sales calls.

3. Investigate proven methods. Study sales experts' proven techniques to handle objections. Adapt their approaches to create your own method of conquering objections.

One of the best books I can recommend for dealing with objections is Neil Rackham's Spin Selling (McGraw-Hill). Rackham treats each objection as a problem to be solved and uses a formula to analyze objections.

4. Become a logical and clear communicator. When your knowledge of the product is comprehensive enough to give customers a clear understanding of your proposition, they are less likely to object. Instead, they can weigh the pros and cons in their minds and hopefully overcome the negatives themselves.

Danielle Kennedy has presented sales and marketing seminars and keynote addresses worldwide to more than 46 different industries. She is the author of five books on sales as well as audio and video sales training programs. You can reach her by writing her in care of Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92714.

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This article was originally published in the February 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Objection!.

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