Sundance Brennan is a sales professional and coach with more than 20 years of experience in consumer direct sales. You can read his blog posts, which usually consist of sales rants and book reviews, at www.salesfumaster.com, Tweet him @salesfumaster, or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/groups/SalesFu/.
“Closing” has a negative connotation, mostly because some salespeople “closed” too soon, became argumentative, and bullied their way to a deal. There is another way, though. I’ve heard it called objection mining, objection avoidance, or the term I prefer – objection defusing. It’s also called good service. This is how you do it.
#1: Accept Responsibility
- Great salespeople defuse the situation; everyone else loses control and places blame. In 20 years of sales I’ve heard all the excuses. The product is bad, the price is off, the leads are horrible, the time shift or region is terrible, my assistant ate my homework, my dog booked the appointments after lunch – you name it. What I’ve never heard is a salesperson who said, “You know what? That customer wants to wait and it’s 100 percent my fault.”
As people, we want to try to deflect failure and pretend it’s outside of our control. No one said sales was an easy profession and no one owes you a thing. Accept that you and your family need and rely on you to make a good living. You alone are in control of your success. Accept responsibility for every objection.
- I read a book about five years ago that drilled this into me – Larry Winget’s Success Is Your Own Damn Fault. Check it out. Not a paid plug – I promise.
#2: Set Up for Success
- Ask questions to uncover the objections before they happen. Ask about the decision making process, how they have made decisions in the past, what criteria are important, and why. The first answer to a “sales” type question is the social nicety or what the customer thinks they should say – something like, “I’m fine, just looking.” The second question is typically answered with what they think they should be shopping for – something about a budget, rate, cost, or feature.
Now we’ve asked a couple of questions and have absolutely no idea what this customer wants or needs. The third question needs to find out why these features would help. The best way to understand the “why” is to check out the Golden Circle TED Talk by Simon Sinek. Just search for it – it’s a great way to spend 20 minutes.
- Listen more. Ask your questions and then shut up. The problem with salespeople is that we love the sound of our voice. We have great things to say and we are very persuasive, right? We aren’t comfortable with silence and tend to dominate conversations instead of letting our customers get comfortable. Listen twice as much as talking and your customers will like you twice as much.
- Non-business relationships (NBR). Click with your customers, use personality types to bond, read about and study social graces. I don’t know a successful salesperson who isn’t likable.
- Uncover need. Throughout your conversation, keep notes of what the “need” is. This person doesn’t need to save money; this person needs you to change their life in some way. You have heard it before: This person needs a hole, not a drill.
- Gather up benefits. As you gather up the information, you’ll have an idea of what the objections to making a purchase now will be. Make note and stack up reasons they should move forward anyway. Those reasons are called benefits.
#3: Defuse the Objection
- Don’t be caught off guard. If you get surprised with an objection, you failed in the first part of the call.
- Anticipate the objection and frame your benefit statements to address it. If you anticipate a cost objection, heavily outline the recoup cost and the cost of doing nothing, if that’s applicable. Talk about the savings. Talk about the long-term savings. Talk about the value of time.
- Use “the agreement.” Confirm that your solution addressed the concern in question. “That solves the problem of paying for the program, right?”
- Do this properly and you won’t have to overcome objections – customers will overcome the objections themselves and choose to move forward.