I think of my first sales training course back in the late seventies. My previous “line-of-work” had been education for close to fifteen years. Coming into sales, in a classroom of people fifteen years younger than I was an experience.
A week before the course was to begin, our instructor had sent us a book that listed the one hundred most common objections and the “best” one hundred ways to overcome them. Being used to educational seminars, I assume we would talk about them. Have a conversation. Discussion groups. That sort of thing. Was I in for a surprise.
After everyone got seated, the instructor stood at the lectern, looked out over the sea of “salespeople” in training, and said, “Your price is too high.”
Within seconds, arms reached upward. He pointed to the fellow sitting next to me who proceeded to meet the objection head on. I was then it dawned on me; if I wanted to be good in sales, memorizing the book was the way to success. How good I was at overcoming objections would completely determine how much money I took to the bank. Within a week, I knew that book by heart. I could close my eyes and describe every page, right down to the coffee stains on page 46. Still can.
For the first few years I remembered always being slightly ashamed that I wasn’t as fast as some of the other salespeople in hitting those objections and knocking them down. But I was always second or third in sales volume every month, month after month. Must be doing something right.
And then I had a revelation. The salespeople who consistently hit the very top were few and far between. Why? Because they just didn’t have the energy month-in and month-out to always overcome the objections. And what was the revelation I had? Very simple.
Objections have to be overcome because salespeople have been trained, and in turn, have trained prospects, to believe that objections and overcoming them are what sales is all about.
Salespeople and prospects know the objections/overcome dance. I’m suggesting you learn some new dance steps.
Eliminating objections requires the salesperson to find out what the prospect is looking for, why the prospect is looking, who makes the decision to buy and finally, when the prospect wants to take possession. Once you know why the prospect is looking, you have most of the information necessary to eliminate objections. The rest of the information just further moves the prospect to a “Yes” or “No” decision.
Your goal, in seeking this information, is to eliminate objections. You gather this information by asking questions and having the prospect explain why she is talking with you. Unless you seek this information, you are flying blind hoping that by overcoming objections, you’ll wear her down. Sometimes you will, most of the time you won’t.
Prospects have been trained by thousands of salespeople to dance to the tune of “Objection, Overcome, Objection, Overcome.” No wonder sales is so hard for so many. Don’t play the tune. When you do play the tune, you know that most of the time you will be left on the dance floor all alone.
Many salespeople “know” exactly what objections will be raised at exactly what points in the sales cycle. Why do they know this? Because this is how they have semi-consciously decided to conduct the sales cycle, and they insist the prospect/customer follow along.
Sit down and write out the objections that occur and when they occur in the sales cycle. Now write down what you can do to answer those objections before they come up by reframing the objection as a question you ask the prospect. Now start doing it. Simplistic? Yes. Difficult to do? Yes.
If you can tape record your side of the conversation and then listen to determine when you start overcoming objections instead of eliminating them. Then write out what question you would ask to eliminate those objections from ever coming up.
Consistently follow this cycle of tape, listen, write, reframe for two to three months and you will discover that you are now eliminating objections, and no longer having to overcome them.
Eliminating objections is less time-consuming than overcoming objections. Eliminating them gives you more selling time.