Dialogue 10. Handling the Objections
S: Is it really impossible to do without any objections? Well, for example, if we better prepare a presentation, find more benefits, offer a product at a fair price rather than overpriced, could we expect no objections?
T: We will now talk about the most difficult, from the point of view of many sellers in the stage of the Sales Cycle, handling the objections. No matter how ideal your proposal is it cannot fully meet the needs, desires and expectations of the buyer.
S: But why? We have a good algorithm, we could find out all possible benefits, and now you are telling us that our presentation cannot fully meet the buyer’s needs and wants. Is there something wrong with this algorithm?
T: You have prepared your proposal based on imperfect information. You have made some assumptions and guesses about your customers on why they might need your goods and services. But while thinking about the buyer “in general,” you could not imagine this particular customer, with all features and nuances of his situation. You still imagine a certain average buyer. But he is quite different from the specific person who is currently listening to your presentation. You cannot “fit” on the go your generalized proposal to all his specific features and nuances. Simply because you don’t know them the way the buyer does.
Where does this “imperfection” of your proposal lead? Naturally, to the buyer’s objections. But do not worry, he will certainly express them in one form or another! And then...
S: It’s a pity ... You’re right, this is the most unpleasant part of the sale! Every time I hear another objection, it makes my stomach flip.
T: There are three reasons why sellers are usually afraid to handle the objections. First, you need to have a go on the right answers to unexpected objections and customer questions. You should do that on your feet. Second, there is a great risk of a wrong answer, and then you lose the prospect. Third, guessing, especially under psychological pressure, calls for intensive brain work. The brain consumes a lot of energy, and most of the “normal” people such as sellers are not accustomed to such hard work. In general, these reasons are enough to wait for buyer’s objections with instinctive fear. You feel hopeless because the buyer objects in any case. Hopeless fear is a really bad feeling.
So, what could be done?
To begin with, we should develop the right attitude to the buyer’s objections. This attitude removes 80% of the fear. The remaining 20% could be removed by your confidence that any objection can be successfully handled. This is what we are going to learn now.
How to relate to the buyer’s objection?
S: How could one relate to the buyer’s objections? Objections are just objections, nothing else. The buyer does not like our product or price, so he objects.
T: It would seem a simple question, and the answer to it seems obvious. You should relate to the buyer's objections as you would to any objections in a dispute. An objection is what the seller hears. The buyer objects because he does not want to buy the offered goods. In the other words, objection is opposing to the seller’s efforts. What should the seller do? Fight the opposition and try to defeat the buyer by any means. There are four ways to win:
Prove to the buyer that he is wrong;
Demonstrate him/her that his objection is not as significant as it seems to him;
Give in; or
Surrender and leave.
In this fight, the seller and the buyer are fighting opponents. A wonderful start to a long good relationship, isn’t it? There you are.
That’s another reason why sellers don’t like the buyer’s objections. As soon as the buyer starts to object, the seller falls into a hopeless situation. On the one hand, it is necessary to handle the objection, that is, to defeat the buyer. For this purpose, he should perceive the buyer as an enemy. Moreover, he should manipulate the buyer or even deceive him. This is the basis for almost all techniques of handling the objections. But, on the other hand, you need to build trust and lay the foundation for a long-lasting, good relationship with the buyer. If the seller overcomes the objection, he misses the opportunity for a long relationship with the buyer. If he does not overcome, then he misses the opportunity for closing. What could be done, then? No matter where you turn, it’s bad. This is why the seller is afraid of this hopeless situation.
There is one would-be solution, though. In order to avoid bringing the buyer down the seller can yield something to him and then bargain with him about the mutually acceptable concessions.
If the seller manages to prove that the buyer’s objections are unreasonable, he makes the buyer a fool and completely spoils the relationship with the buyer. By manipulating the buyer, the seller can deceive him and trick him into purchasing the unnecessary goods at a sky-high price. Even if the buyer does not reveal this trick right away, later he understands that it is better not to deal with such a seller anymore.
By ceding to the buyer, the seller puts the buyer’s hands on the money in his wallet. When seller reduces the price, he receives less money for his company. At the same time, he loses his standing. Yielding to the terms of goods delivery the seller involves his company in unfavorable changes of logistics. Yielding to the terms of payment, the seller creates the debt collection problems for the company. And so on. Each concession is a clear or hidden loss to the seller’s company.
As you can see, none of the ways of handling the objections are good.
S: So, what could be done? The situation is hopeless indeed, right?
T: Let’s take a look at the buyer’s objections from another standpoint. The fact that the buyer did not put you out the door and did not send you away means one thing: he wants to buy your product but has not decided yet. How can the seller understand the objection from this point of view? What is really going on? By objecting, the buyer actually tells you that he is afraid of something. His fear is a premonition of some kind of threat associated with the purchase of goods on the terms of the seller. What does the buyer want? He wants the seller to help him avoid this threat. Then he could decide with a true heart to buy the proposed product. If both the seller and the buyer are looking for ways to avoid the threat, they are cooperating, they are not enemies anymore. Such collaboration results in trust and lays the foundation for long-term good relationships.
As you see, we changed the name from “objection” to “fear” or “concern.” Then, we came to a completely different result! Both the seller and the buyer need exactly that: cooperation, trust, long-term relationships. We changed the attitude toward the buyer’s words.
Instead of making the buyer a fool or yielding, the seller together with the buyer is looking for opportunities to avoid the trouble. In this way, he not only declares, but in fact shows concern for the buyer. Moreover, prevention of the trouble does not involve any concessions. No losses to the seller’s company.