Handling objections and cementing the sale
We've previously discussed, in the professional selling process, the act of commitment, when the salesperson closes the sale or gets an agreement to move forward.
That's when a salesperson has completed the "fill the need" step, asked and answered any questions, summarized the features, quoted the price and used the act of commitment (the closing statement): "If we (summary of action to be taken) can you think of any reason why we shouldn't (summary of desired act of commitment)?"
For example: "If we can schedule shipment by the end of the month, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't go ahead?"
The prospect can either say, "no," which means you just closed the sale, or gives you an objection such as "I'd like to think it over," "Your price is too high, " I want to shop around," etc.
Let's assume you've done a good job on the previous steps but when you ask for the order, you're given the objection, "I'd like to think it over." Would you agree that, generally speaking, what your prospect is really saying is that you haven't persuaded her to buy? What's the most logical way of persuading her to buy? Getting in an argument? No.
The most logical way to persuade her to buy is for you to continue to sell.
When the prospect objects, what she is really saying is that she has some FUD - fears, uncertainties and doubts about you, your company, your product or service, your price or the time to buy.
When you get an objection, acknowledge it by saying, "I see," "I understand," "I can appreciate that." These are the only words that consistently work and they must be used exactly this way.
Don't say, "I understand that," or "I can appreciate how you feel," "I see what you mean," etc. Those statements have a totally different meaning.
This process acknowledges the prospect's objection, completing the communication exchange, and it's now your turn to talk. Immediately move into your second close by saying, "(prospect's name), we agreed you liked (this feature, this feature ... and this feature).
Now, in addition, (add a new feature-benefit-reaction and close it the second time using the exact same closing statement)."
Again, the prospect either says, "No," and she will have just bought or she can say, "Yes," and give you an objection.
While it could be the same objection, generally speaking, it won't be - unless it is the real objection. If it is, the prospect will give it a second time. However, you should put it through one more qualifying process.
Keep in mind that you want the prospect to buy for her reasons, not yours. If it's not the right product or service for her, you have no right to ask for the order. If it is the right product or service for her and there is a genuine need, then as a professional salesperson, you have a responsibility to ask for the order or close the sale.
To ask for the order the third time, again acknowledge the objection by saying, "I see," "I understand," or "I can appreciate that," then say, "(prospect's name), we agreed you liked (this feature, this feature and this feature). There must be something that you don't like. Would you mind telling me what it is?"
This allows your prospect to go on the offense, and puts you on the defense, releasing built-up pressure created by you asking for the order more than once. It also gives the prospect the opportunity to talk about what's really preventing her from moving forward with the sale.
When you get her answer, there's about a 90 percent chance you are dealing with the real objection now, so answer it to the best of your ability and close the sale again with a simple close such as, "Let's set it up," "Let's go ahead," "Can we do business together?" etc. This prevents you from wasting valuable time trying to answer objections that a prospect doesn't really mean.
Research shows that 62 percent of the time, when the salesperson should be asking for the order, he or she makes no attempt whatsoever to close the sale.
Imagine what your success would be if you were to close the sale two times, or maybe the third time, by uncovering the real objection and handling it properly. During the recent filming of HBO's "Hard Knocks", Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said to his players, "There are five keys to being a good salesman. Ask for the money ... and I've forgotten the other four." If you're not closing the sale or getting an act of commitment, you're not selling; you're just having a formalized conversation.
People don't buy logically, they buy emotionally. However, when the emotion wears off in the cold dawn of a new day, the sale must make sense logically or it will become unsold. Many times I've heard sales managers tell their salespeople, "Once you get the sale, get out of the office or place of business as quickly as possible."
What sales managers mean is don't "buy it back." Most salespeople don't have a selling process. Therefore, in their sales presentations they've got the prospect at an emotional high but they keep talking. The enthusiasm wears off and the conversation goes back and forth until the prospect finally terminates the interview by saying something like, "Well, it sounds good. Let me think about it and get back to you."
A few minutes spent in the "cement the sale" step provides more credibility than all the effort prior to that in the selling process. Why? Because the sale has already been made. You're not saying things to persuade the prospect to buy - that's already happened - so it has a lot more credibility in the buyer's mind.
In the cement-the-sale step, do three things. Thank the prospect for her time and business. Reassure her that the product or service will deliver the results you said it would. Then indicate when your next personal contact with her will be.
For example, "I will see you next Tuesday," "I will call you next week," "I will confirm the shipment tomorrow," etc.
Closing the sale isn't the end of the selling process; it is the beginning of a new sales relationship. Little things will continue to build a positive relationship. Return all telephone calls. Send your customers thank-you cards expressing appreciation for their business. A handwritten card has far more impact than an e-mail.
This little difference is a big difference in the customer's eyes. Add a personal touch that shows you know what interests your client has.
When selling becomes a procedure, it ceases to be a problem. If it's not a procedure, it will always be a problem.
This procedure works. Learn it, master it and make it yours for greater sales success.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.