The best tip ever for handling all sales objections!

Let’s say the prospect is listening to your pitch and says, “You know, I had a bad experience with your company a few years ago.”  What do you say now?

Before we get into this discussion, let’s agree that in most objections there is some level of emotion involved. Certainly there is in this case. A bad prior experience will certainly contain some lingering emotional memory—the rude salesperson, unmet expectations, a defective product, poor service and so on.

So your response is probably to say, “I’m very sorry to hear that. Please tell me what happened.” And if that is your answer I won’t argue with you.  Well done.

But there is something else you should consider that is far more powerful, and that involves the timing of your words.  This is very hard to do, so pay close attention.

When you hear an emotional objection, don’t say anything at all!

That’s right; pause before you speak, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…” ought to do it. And of course maintain a serious, interested countenance. Don’t look away or appear frustrated or annoyed.  You’re concerned, taking this as an important issue.

Here are four helpful reasons why you should pause before you respond:

1)      When you fail to answer immediately, it lets the customer continue talking.  If he wants to elaborate, that’s just fine. Let him. Allowing a brief pause after the objection gives the customer this great opportunity to continue.  In my own experience this is sometimes enough, as customers will often solve the matter themselves.  “It’s probably not that big a deal; I shouldn’t even have brought it up.” Or, “Of course that’s water over the dam at this point. Not sure why I mention it now.”  Your silence allows the customer to self-discover.

2)      It demonstrates to the customer that you have taken the objection seriously. It’s a sign of respect and helps maintain rapport.  The customer will see that you are giving the matter some thought and not being defensive or combative, attacking with a glib answer.

3)      The next thing you say will be important, so it gives you additional time to think. Next you are going to make a statement of empathy.  Think about how you want to phrase it.

4)      The pause also tends to reduce the emotional tension in the conversation, restoring calm, which is just what you need.  Objections generally have some emotion attached to them.  You want to restore the quiet, tension-free level that preceded the objection in order to advance your sale.  Some salespeople think it’s important to counter an objection with a snappy comeback, so you look prepared and informed.  Not so.  The risk of the snappy comeback is that you cause the customer to think you are arguing with him.  Be careful.

When you practice handling objections in role play, whether you are a sales manager or sales trainer, note the timing of the performers. Encourage them to pause before they speak. Model it for them first so they can see its power.  This is easy to understand, but hard to execute. Try it.

Star of stage and screen!

Ribs at Fox Studio 04-18-2014Those of you who know me well are aware that outside of my business, I’m a pretty dedicated distance runner.  On Boston Marathon Monday last week, our Dallas Fox 4 TV station invited me to comment on the race, a year after the tragic bombing incident.  If you’re interested you can see me here.

Meanwhile, remember to…

Think Like Your Customer!

“Schnell!” How one word or phrase can change perception

I got to know Konrad, the night desk clerk at the Sydney, Australia Four Seasons hotel pretty well, because I used to get up at 5 a.m. to run, then drink a bottle of water in the lobby and chat with him for awhile.  Konrad was Swiss, spoke several languages, and was a friendly, polite young man.

Early one Saturday morning my colleague Ken and I were checking out of the hotel to fly home and Konrad waited on us.  When he went down to the other end of the lobby to get Ken’s receipt from the printer, Ken remembered he wanted to ask Konrad for something else.  He turned to me and asked, “What’s that guy’s name again?”

I said, “His name is Schnell.”

So Ken yelled down to Konrad, “Schnell!”

Konrad was far too professional to give Ken an angry look for being told in German to hurry the hell up, so the rest of the transaction went without incident and soon we were in the cab on the way to the airport, where I explained to Ken the trick I had just played on him. What a great colleague I am!

Funny how just one word can alter an entire conversation in any context, whether it’s a practical joke, a discussion on a light topic, or a sales presentation.  When I hear someone make an unfortunate word choice I often wonder if the person realized the effect the nuance of the word may have had on his listener.

These errors don’t generally occur in sales conversations, as professional salespeople tend to be very careful in word choices.  But where many salespeople slip up is in the use of “filler phrases” that mean absolutely nothing, but are inserted into presentations because the speaker thinks they “sound” right, or make the speaker seem more articulate, when in fact the opposite is true.

You might listen to your own conversation or ask a colleague to give you feedback if you tend to do this.  Here are some of the worst I hear:

“When all is said and done”

“At the end of the day”

“That being said”

“I said it before and I’ll say it again”

“All things considered”

“Be that as it may”

“My bad”

“It is what it is”

I could go on here.  The sarcastic “Really?” seems to have had its run, but “yada yada yada” persists.

The difficulty is that if any of these phrases are a habit for you, you might not realize the effect they have on those who hear them nor see their mental eye-rolling.  Listen for them and work on getting them out of your everyday speech, like, now.  You know what I mean?

What are some of the filler words or phrases that annoy you? I just listed a few but I’ll bet you have some that are pet peeves. Let me hear from you.

Oh, one more thing. Just so you don’t think I left the hotel situation as it was, when I returned to Sydney I apologized to Konrad for Ken’s rude behavior.

Boston Marathon excuse!

I’m running the Boston Marathon on Monday, then on the road for the rest of the week, so I won’t post again until Friday.  Until next time,

Think Like Your Customer