Answering sales objections doesn’t mean arm wrestling a prospect until you win. If people are interested in what you’re selling, in most cases they’re going to offer some kind of objection. When the customer raises an objection, don’t start an arm-wrestling match.
I was in a mall during the holiday season, browsing around while my daughter and son were doing what teenagers do: shopping with the money Dad gave them. I was standing in front of a clothing store, looking at seasonal fashions for men, when I heard a woman trying to get the attention of a shopper.
“Hey, mister … hey … you.”
I turned slightly to my right and looked over my shoulder, and I realized I was the person she was talking to.
“Are you talking to me?” I asked.
“Yes,” the salesperson said, smiling. “Do you need a new cell phone?”
This is when I realized I was being solicited by a cell phone salesperson in a kiosk in the middle of the aisle. Nice person, I thought. Aggressive, friendly, pleasant voice, and she got my attention. I imagine she could have been thinking she was a great salesperson because she possessed certain necessary sales traits. What she may not have realized was how much commission she lost that day because she didn’t know how to effectively counter my objection. Let me share with you a few things she didn’t know about my cell phone situation.
I’ve had the same flip cell phone for almost five years. Yes, I know, after one year it’s a dinosaur; my kids remind me every time they see me use it. (I happen to like dinosaurs.) My cell contract is up for renewal, so there’s nothing keeping me from upgrading. I’m thinking often of getting an upgrade from my current phone to a new phone. My problem is that I know what every button on my phone does. Having to stop and learn something new is frustrating for me. I’m a creature of habit, so I’m comfortable with my little phone. It’s like a family member to me. It’s old, but I’m familiar with it.
I don’t have e-mail capabilities on my phone, so an upgrade is something I’m interested in. I’ve found that texting is how my kids prefer to communicate, so a better keyboard would be helpful. And I’m very frustrated with the cell phone service of the national carrier I use. On top of that, in the middle of a conversation, the cell line often drops. When I say often, I mean every day. The bottom line is that my experience with my cell provider has not been good. So I’m somewhat frustrated.
Do you get the picture now?
I have a need to buy a new phone, and I am unhappy with my current provider. I’m a prime candidate for a new phone order. Now, back to my story.
The salesperson knows nothing about my current cell phone situation, and she works for the cell phone carrier I use. So here is how the conversation went:
Salesperson: “Hey mister … hey … you.”
Me: “Are you talking to me?”
Salesperson: “Yes, do you need a new cell phone?”
Me: “Yes, I do.”
Salesperson: “Great! We have lots of great deals going on.”
Me (interrupting her sales pitch): “Oh yeah, I use your company already, but I do not like your service.”
Salesperson: “What? Sure you like our service … We are the best.”
Me: “Well, I’m not feeling like you’re the best, because I don’t like the service I’m getting. The line drops all the time.”
Salesperson: “How old is your phone? Maybe you need to upgrade.”
Me (very friendly tone): “Miss, I just said I don’t care for your service.”
Salesperson (very pushy and defensive): “Have you had your phone checked out? I think that’s what your problem is. So let’s upgrade your phone and get it fixed.”
(Now we’re arm wrestling.)
Me: “Sorry, but I don’t think getting a new phone is the solution to my problem.”
I turned and walked away while she was still instructing me on how my problem wasn’t their problem.
Can you see how the salesperson, by her inability to counter my objection effectively, lost a current customer who had a need and was very interested in upgrading? I wonder how many potential sales she’d lost in the last sixty days. I expect her approach sent many potential clients to another provider.
• What was it the salesperson could not see?
• Why did she feel that pushing for her point of view would help her make the sale?
• Why didn’t she investigate what I needed while anticipating objections?
Here is an example of what the salesperson could have done better:
Salesperson: “Oh, I’m so sorry we aren’t meeting your expectations. Can you tell me what’s happening?”
Me: “When I am on a call, the line drops. This seems to happen every day.”
Salesperson: “I know how frustrating that can be because that happened to me. Have you called the help desk?”
Me: “No, I’m just dealing with it until I find a new vendor.”
Salesperson: “We acknowledge there has been a problem with our lines dropping calls. So I apologize for the lack of call quality. We have added more towers and soon will resolve the problem. If I can have your number, I will look into the situation and call you back with a solution and more information. Until then, are you having any phone issues other than the line dropping?”
Notice how the salesperson didn’t ignore my current problem with her company but acknowledged my dissatisfaction with empathy before moving to upgrade my phone. This is the proper way to deal with an objection from a buyer.
Take care of the current frustration. Get the buyer to talk about his or her problem, and try to relate to it before changing the subject. When you do this, the buyer will be more likely to talk about other opportunities.