Every product that's ever been manufactured, and every service that's ever been offered, has had its fair share of flaws. So the question is, what are you as an entrepreneur going to do when those flaws are pointed out to you?
What follows is the most creative objection-handling technique that I've ever used, and it actually works! Simply implement this one idea, and you'll find that not only will you build trust in the process of answering objections, but you'll also be in a much better position to influence the outcome of the pending sale.
So here goes: Early on in your sales cycle, instead of avoiding your product or service's disadvantages, bring those disadvantages up on your own initiative. In other words, don't ever try to cover anything up. Ever. Use this objection-raising technique to shine the spotlight on your product's weakest link. It's amazing how bringing up the disadvantages early on is disarming, and it actually reduces its negative impact!
Keep in mind that you're not trying to fool your prospects. Quite the opposite: The trust and respect you'll get from prospects by raising your greatest weakness will lower their defense mechanisms, and they'll be more open to understand the real benefits and advantages of what you've got to offer. There is, of course, a sizable risk to this tactic. If you don't raise the worst objection that's bound to come up later in the sales process, you'll only raise the prospect's suspicion that you're trying to cover something up-and that's not good.
How do you find out what objections your potential prospects may have? There isn't much of an alternative to real experience. If you don't have that yet, take a customer out to lunch and ask for the straight scoop on how your product is performing. If you don't have any customers, ask a prospect that decided not to buy from you. Or ask your marketing department what they've learned. Don't have a marketing department? Ask a fellow salesperson who's been in the trenches for a while.
Of course, you must be ready to resolve all the objections that you raise, and you must be totally prepared to answer the ones that your prospects think up all on their own. Here's the key: The more experienced you become at raising objections, the less experienced you'll have to be at handling objections!
If you're passionate about what you do, there are bound to be times when you become frustrated with a prospect that voices what sounds like an insulting objection. It's natural to take some of these remarks personally, but it's also essential to keep your sense of balance when you feel that you're "on the grill." Follow these simple rules when your prospect says that your specs are wrong, your price is too high or your quality is suspect:
- Accept the objection at face value. In other words, don't argue points. It will only irritate your prospect.
- Analyze the objection. Is it reasonable? Perhaps this prospect is not yet convinced that you fully appreciate the importance of his or her requirement. Lean forward, give this person all your attention, and start taking notes and asking questions.
- Consider the possibility that this prospect isn't satisfied with your proposal and is giving you a chance to revise what you're offering. Most objections are merely a request for additional information.
Sometimes the objection raised by your prospect isn't the real one at all. Ask yourself: Would you make this objection if you were in the other person's shoes? But be careful not to irritate your prospects. Empathize with them and question the underlying concern that lives at the heart of every objection. For example:
Prospect: "Your wholesale price is just too high. After we apply our standard markup, the retail price would be too high for our clientele."
You: "If our price were lower-low enough for you to make margin and still price it right for your clientele-would you purchase our topcoats for your stores?"
Prospect (after a surprised pause): "No, actually the problem is that the style and the material really aren't what I think they ought to be."
Now you're positioned to show off other merchandise to this buyer. Why? Because you've targeted the real heart of the matter. Now you know the real objection.
The bottom line: Expect objections. In sales, you can anticipate most objections by using these valuable tips. If you've done your homework, you can think on your feet quickly enough to raise and answer objections smoothly and professionally. Remember, if the product sold itself, you and I wouldn't be needed!
Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer. For additional information on his speeches and his newest book, CEOs Who Sell, visit Selling to VITO.