Handling Objections

In some sales situations, your prospect's questions will all be answered and you can proceed to closing the sale. More often, however, the prospect will have what are often called objections, in most cases they simply are questions or concerns. An objection is an opposing viewpoint or disagreement. A question is simply a request for additional information.

By developing a relationship of trust and clarity, the questions prospects have can actually help you in the sales process. Some professional salespeople say that the sale doesn't begin until the prospect begins asking relevant questions.

How should you handle post-presentation questions? Professionally. Even if you've already answered the question, don't patronize the prospect. Instead, summarize what you previously stated without saying, “What I said before was …” or “As I already mentioned …” If the prospect does recognize the statement as previously made, she will appreciate that you don't point it out.

In any case, never argue or minimize the prospect's question. In fact, you should be thankful that the prospect asks clarifying questions, as it indicates that the sales process is continuing.

How should you respond to additional questions? By listening, recognizing the concern, restating it, answering it, and confirming the answer. Each question should be responded to in the same manner, removing any objection that the prospect has to closing the sale.

Listen to the Question

Many salespeople talk too much when they should be listening. Listening not only helps you gather more sales information, it also shows respect for your prospect. Both are requirements of a sale. You can listen with ears, your mind, and your body. Hear the words that the prospect is saying, but also attempt to understand what it means. If you need clarification, ask for it.

Also listen with your body. In other words, show the prospect that you are listening. Don't rummage through your sales literature or stare out the window. Instead, engage the prospect's eyes and show that you are sincerely concerned and listening.

Recognize the Question

Exactly what is the prospect asking? Is there a technical question that needs to be answered, or is the prospect attempting to delay the inevitable decision whether to buy or not? Your response will depend on what type of concern the prospect shares. For example, “Does the Deluxe model come with a rolling platform?” is a technical question that you can answer, then use to move toward the close. “Why do we need the Deluxe model?” is probably a delaying question if you've already answered it in your presentation. Knowing the purpose of the question can help you in answering it better.

Restate the Question

Whatever the question, the prospect needs your answer. To ensure that your answer is accurate, first restate the question or concern.

  • You're asking if the Deluxe model has a heavy-duty rolling platform as an option?

  • Are you asking about the differences between the Deluxe and Standard models?

Restating the concern tells the prospect that you are listening and that you understand the question. It also gives the prospect an opportunity to hear the question. As appropriate, the prospect may then revise or clarify the question, or even withdraw it.

Answer the Question

By answering the agreed-upon question, you are recognizing the prospect's interest in buying. It also gives you an opportunity to validate the buyer. “That's a good question, Mary. Yes, the Deluxe model does have an optional rolling platform that can hold up to 500 pounds yet is easily moved with one hand so it can be quickly moved to various assembly stations.” The answer offers both a feature and a benefit.

Many professional salespeople use prospect questions to do more than answer concerns. They answer them with a question that will help move the sales process toward a close. “If the Deluxe model had an optional rolling platform, would you like to have one here by next week?” Don't overuse this technique, but consider how the answer to each question can help the prospect make a better decision.

Confirm the Answer

The prospect's question was asked, you listened attentively, recognized and restated the question, then answered it. What's next? Make sure that your question was understood. How? By asking.

  • Does that answer your question?

  • Does that make sense to you?

  • Do you have any other questions I can answer for you?

Prospect questions are an important part of the selling process. By listening attentively and asking your own clarifying questions, you can soon be ready to start the close of your sale.

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