Turning Objections Into Sales Opportunities

Don't wait for customers to say what's wrong with your product. Tell them yourself and turn sales around!

By Tony Parinello

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every product that's ever been manufactured, and everyservice that's ever been offered, has had its fair share offlaws. So the question is, what are you as an entrepreneur going todo when those flaws are pointed out to you?

What follows is the most creative objection-handling techniquethat I've ever used, and it actually works! Simply implementthis one idea, and you'll find that not only will you buildtrust in the process of answering objections, but you'll alsobe in a much better position to influence the outcome of thepending sale.

So here goes: Early on in your sales cycle, instead of avoidingyour product or service's disadvantages, bring thosedisadvantages up on your own initiative. In other words, don'tever try to cover anything up. Ever. Use this objection-raisingtechnique to shine the spotlight on your product's weakestlink. It's amazing how bringing up the disadvantages early onis 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 fromprospects by raising your greatest weakness will lower theirdefense mechanisms, and they'll be more open to understand thereal benefits and advantages of what you've got to offer. Thereis, of course, a sizable risk to this tactic. If you don'traise the worst objection that's bound to come up later in thesales process, you'll only raise the prospect's suspicionthat you're trying to cover something up-and that's notgood.

How do you find out what objections your potential prospects mayhave? There isn't much of an alternative to real experience. Ifyou don't have that yet, take a customer out to lunch and askfor the straight scoop on how your product is performing. If youdon't have any customers, ask a prospect that decided not tobuy from you. Or ask your marketing department what they'velearned. Don't have a marketing department? Ask a fellowsalesperson who's been in the trenches for a while.

Of course, you must be ready to resolve all the objections thatyou raise, and you must be totally prepared to answer the ones thatyour prospects think up all on their own. Here's the key: Themore experienced you become at raising objections, the lessexperienced you'll have to be at handling objections!

If you're passionate about what you do, there are bound tobe times when you become frustrated with a prospect that voiceswhat sounds like an insulting objection. It's natural to takesome of these remarks personally, but it's also essential tokeep your sense of balance when you feel that you're "onthe grill." Follow these simple rules when your prospect saysthat your specs are wrong, your price is too high or your qualityis suspect:

  • Accept the objection at face value. In other words, don'targue points. It will only irritate your prospect.
  • Analyze the objection. Is it reasonable? Perhaps this prospectis not yet convinced that you fully appreciate the importance ofhis or her requirement. Lean forward, give this person all yourattention, and start taking notes and asking questions.
  • Consider the possibility that this prospect isn't satisfiedwith your proposal and is giving you a chance to revise whatyou're offering. Most objections are merely a request foradditional information.

Sometimes the objection raised by your prospect isn't thereal one at all. Ask yourself: Would you make this objection if youwere in the other person's shoes? But be careful not toirritate your prospects. Empathize with them and question theunderlying concern that lives at the heart of every objection. Forexample:

Prospect: "Your wholesale price is just too high.After we apply our standard markup, the retail price would be toohigh for our clientele."

You: "If our price were lower-low enough for you tomake margin and still price it right for your clientele-would youpurchase our topcoats for your stores?"

Prospect (after a surprised pause): "No, actuallythe problem is that the style and the material really aren'twhat I think they ought to be."

Now you're positioned to show off other merchandise to thisbuyer. Why? Because you've targeted the real heart of thematter. Now you know the real objection.

The bottom line: Expect objections. In sales, you can anticipatemost objections by using these valuable tips. If you've doneyour homework, you can think on your feet quickly enough to raiseand answer objections smoothly and professionally. Remember, if theproduct sold itself, you and I wouldn't be needed!

Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling bookSelling to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer. For additionalinformation on his speeches and his newest book, CEOs WhoSell, visit Selling to VITO.

Tony Parinello

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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