Q: I'm new to network marketing and like the idea of building residual income. But I'm getting discouraged. I think my products and my business are the best, and I don't understand why I run into so many objections when I'm selling or trying to recruit someone. What could I be doing wrong?

A: You're dealing with the age-old sales dilemma of overcoming objections. Every network marketer who is successful at selling his or her product and recruiting others quickly learns to overcome an objection by turning it to the customer's advantage. The key to overcoming objections lies first in understanding why the prospect objects. Here are some common objections:

  • The prospect wants to say yes, but has limited funds. Basically, she wants you to show her why she should spend her money for this. When it comes to recruits, watch for signs of fear. Take steps to reassure your prospect that she can recover the investment quickly. Most companies have a generous buyback policy if people find the business is not for them. Point out the company's buyback policy on resalable inventory.
  • The prospect doesn't understand what you're saying. Often the person doesn't want to appear ignorant and therefore gives a negative response. Never assume a prospect understands everything, regardless of the person's background in business. Ask your prospects frequently if you're explaining things clearly.
  • The prospect has a difficult time making decisions, large or small. You have to help her decide.
  • She's doubtful she can be successful in the business. Reassure her.
  • The objection is really a question. Your prospect wants more information.
  • Something you've said or done has offended the prospect. There is no obvious way to overcome this emotionally based objection.

So how do you overcome objections? Here are four steps:

1. Add information. Start by telling the prospect: "I'm glad to hear you say that. I know exactly what you mean," or "Thank you for bringing that up; it's a good point. In fact, many people who have taken advantage of my company's opportunity have had that same thought." Then present the information that dispels the perceived problem.

2. Treat an objection as a question. For example, if the objection is one of delay, say, "Yes, I understand your point, but the question is whether this is the right time to join my company, correct?" Or, if the prospect claims he can't afford it, reply, "That's an intelligent approach. You're wondering if you can handle this investment without upsetting your budget, aren't you?"

3. Find out if the voiced objection is the only one. Ask: "That's a good point to consider. Your question is whether this is the smart thing to do right now, isn't it?" When he replies it is, follow up with: "Well, you do like the program, don't you? If you were sure cost wouldn't present a problem, would there be no other objections?"

Basically, you need to ask the prospect, "If you could satisfy yourself on this one point, you wouldn't have any objection to starting immediately, would you?"

4. Use the same line of reasoning as the prospect's objections. Agree wholeheartedly with the prospect. For example, say: "Mr. Prospect, you are so right! You can't keep taking on additional obligations forever. But really, this opportunity doesn't add obligations--it helps you remove them! Here, let me show you how it can."

Other Habits to Avoid
1. Try to pinpoint and understand the objection. Many prospects get lost when the sponsor sums up the objection too quickly and doesn't hear the prospect's entire objection.

2. Never interrupt, anticipating what the person is trying to say. You'll probably misunderstand and offend the prospect. The person will be much more relaxed and receptive if you let him finish the question.

3. If possible, delay confronting a prospect's objection until you've completed your presentation. However, don't appear to avoid the question entirely ("Mr. Jones, that's a good point. I'll answer that in just a minute, OK?"). Chances are, you'll answer the question in your presentation, but if the answer is not to his satisfaction, he'll raise the question again.

4. Don't place undue emphasis on any objection. It may simply be a question.

5. Never treat any objection as an unjustified question, either by facial, vocal or body expression.

6. When answering an objection, avoid an argument by using such phrases as "I suggest" and "as you know."

I hope some of these tips help you overcome objections. Learning to recognize the real meaning of objections is a key factor to success in network marketing.

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service direct sales and multilevel marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Multi Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA). He can be contacted through http://www.sheffieldnet.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.