Living in the desert means living with some pretty nasty neighbors such as rattlesnakes and scorpions, and although they aren't in my desert, not that far away is another desert resident, the Gila Monster. All of these are venomous, and although rare for the scorpion and Gila Monster, under the right circumstances they can kill a human. Fortunately, for us who live with these creatures there are specific actions we can take to prevent them from harming us and our families.
Also present in my desert-and in your area, no matter what area you work in-are objections to our efforts to sell. Like snakes, scorpions and Gila Monsters, objections are also venomous; but unlike the scorpion and Gila Monster whose bite is seldom lethal, objections are mass murders, killing tens of thousands-probably millions-of sales every single day.
Despite the fact that objections are deadly for such a massive number of sales, like the poisonous creatures above, objections need not be deadly if we simply learn how to prevent them from harming our sales.
A few lessons from how we handle poisonous creatures can be easily and successfully applied to handling objections:
- Keep the objections away. Our primary defense against our venomous neighbors is to anticipate the environment that would attract them and to then create an environment that would discourage their presence. We keep our lawns mown and gardens weeded not just so our home looks good, but to prevent unwanted creatures from having a place to hide. They hate being out in the open where they can be easily spotted and attacked by their enemies.
We do the same with objections by creating an environment that discourages them. We anticipate the typical objections we get and weave into our presentation the answer to the objection before it is asked. Just as we whack down weeds before they become problem areas where a snake or Gila Monster can hide, we whack down objections before they have a chance to grow into an issue of real consequence.
- Don't let the objection linger. Once we notice there is a problem-we spot a rattlesnake or a scorpion nest-we take immediate action. We don't let it stick around. Our question is never "do we address it" but "how do we address it." Do we need to call in a professional or can we handle it ourselves? Do we need to kill it or find a way to move it somewhere where it-and we-can live safely?
An objection demands we do the same-acknowledge its presence and take immediate action. And just as we must decide how best to deal with our unwanted neighbor, we must decide how most effectively to handle the objection. Do we answer it fully now or explain that we will address it later at a more appropriate time? Whether we address it now or move it to a later time, we must let the prospect know we understand the objection and that we will in fact address it fully. If we let it linger without acknowledging it, we may as well take its poison and inject it directly into our veins.
- Address the objection and probe for others. When we find an unwanted visitor around our home, we not only have to eradicate it but we have to do a thorough search to make sure there aren't any more around. At times we may be tempted to reassure ourselves that the one scorpion was all there were and we don't have to bother with a detailed search. If we don't make sure we got them all, we're only setting ourselves up for a whole boatload of trouble a little later.
It's the same with objections. To bastardize Woody Allen in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, "these things usually travel in groups." (ASIDE FOR MY YOUTH READERS (those under 50): the scene is a giant boob running amuck, squirting milk at everyone in its path. When Allen finally manages to trap it in a giant bra, he warns his companion to be careful because "these things usually travel in pairs.") Like the giant boob, objections seldom travel alone. Probe to uncover and address objections because if you don't, they'll likely drown you when you least expect it.
- Recognize objections for what they are. Not all lizards or snakes are poisonous. Just because it slithers or is cold blooded doesn't mean it is lethal. Some of the creatures that have some resemblance to a rattlesnake or Gila Monster are beneficial and welcome in our yards. We have to be able to differentiate between those creatures that are harmful and those that are beneficial.
The same goes for objections because not all objections are the same. There are certainly legitimate objections, but there are also some objections that are designed to stall or just wrangle a lower price. We must be able to determine which objections are real and which are designed to obstruct or stall. Asking questions so that you really understand both the objection and the reason for the objection will guide you determining whether the objection is real or designed to stall or obstruct.
- Address objections honestly. OK, OK, the analogy breaks down at this point. We really don't come clean with the rattlesnake that we're about to kill it, nor do we have a heart to heart conversation with the scorpions, warning them that if they don't move we're going to spray their nest with poison; not because we're heartless, but simply because we find them too similar to our children-lousy listeners, so what's the use?
When it comes to objections, however, we must deal with them openly, honestly, and fully. For many of us the temptation is to try to hide or even deny the truth-whatever it takes to make a sale. But doing so ultimately only creates an unhappy, unsatisfied client likely to tell a great many about our dishonest and unethical practices.
As with all things in sales, honesty is the only real policy. Yes, on occasion it may mean not losing a sale. But the lost sales will pale in comparison to loyalty and word of mouth gained by giving your clients what they seldom get-straightforward, honest guidance from a seller.
Objections don't have to kill your sales, you just need to handle them way you'd handle any deadly critter-find 'em and eradicate 'em. Better yet, make your presentation a place where objections can't hide and grow.
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