Don’t Answer Objections, Isolate Them!

Most sales reps hate getting objections.  Their hearts sink into their stomachs, their palms start to sweat, and they start wondering how they’re going to pay the rent.  Sound familiar?

When sales reps ask me how they should handle objections, they are often surprised by my answer.  I tell them they should never answer objections.  When they look at me like I’m crazy, I explain:

“Objections are often stalls or smokescreens hiding other objections that your prospect doesn’t want to disclose.  As soon as you begin answering objections, have you ever found that they have another and yet another?”

“Oh, yeah,” they say.  So here’s what you should do:

Instead of answering an objection you must first isolate and question it. Let’s take two of the most common ones – “Your price is too high,” and “I need to speak with, talk to…”

If your client says, “Your prices too high,” you should respond with:

“I can understand that, and let me ask you a question — if this price was exactly what you were willing to pay, is this (your product/service, etc.) the solution you would go with today?”

Now that you’ve isolated the objection you will see if price really is the only objection.  Any answer other than ‘yes’ and price isn’t what is stopping your prospect form moving forward (which means you have more work to do to find out what is!)

Same thing with the “I’ve got to speak to, talk this over with….” objection.  You should say:

“I can totally understand that, prospect’s name, and let me ask you — if you did speak with _______ and they said whatever you thought was fine with them, would you go with this today?”

Again, any answer other than ‘yes’ and that objection is just a stall.  Answering it will get you nowhere.

Do you see how this works?  The whole point of questioning and isolating the objection first is to uncover what is really holding your prospect back.

And until you find that out, there will be no deal.

So stop answering objections and start isolating them.  You will become a much stronger closer, and you’ll begin making more sales.  Kind of like the Top 20% do!

A Simple Lesson From the NFL to Close More Business

Ahhhhh…..  The NFL.  The start of the season is looming near.  I read a piece by Peter King from about his conversation with Ellis Hobbs – former cornerback with the New England Patriots.  He was talking about how much respect he had for head coach Bill Belichick.

He said, “Early in my career, Bill called me into his office, and we sat there – for a long time – studying film.  He taught me to look for the simple things, and not to make football so complicated.  I got better.  I was with one of the best coaches of all time, and he helped me become a better player.”

In sales, too, you can become a better producer if you concentrate on the simple things and doing them better.  Here are two things you can do starting today to increase your closing ratio and make more money:

1)     Keep a record of the reasons your prospects don’t close and then concentrate on  qualifying these on issues up front with future prospects.  This was one of the simplest and most effective habits I developed to get better.

I kept a notebook with all my prospects in it and every time they didn’t buy, I’d put in red ink the reason why not.  I even boiled it down to three codes: NI, for No Interest; NM for No Money; and NC for Not Controllable.  And then throughout the weeks and months I’d go back through my notebook and look for patterns and ask myself, “What do I need to focus on during the qualification stage?”

If too many prospects were not buying because they simply weren’t ready to buy right then “No Interest” needed to be addressed on the front call.  I’d start by asking more questions like:  “Prospect, if you find that this would work for you, what is your time frame for moving ahead with it?”

And so on.  Bottom line – if you don’t get it right on the front end then you’ll never increase your closing ratio.

2)     Ask for bigger orders on every close.  Oh I know, you’ve heard this before, right?  But how often do you actually do it?  So many sales reps are afraid to ask for too much and are just happy to get a minimum order.  I know because I used to be that way.

But my career turned around when I began asking for big orders on every single call.  And what I learned is that you never know how much a person or company can handle.  You can always go down (in price, quantity, etc.), but you can never go up.

The truth is, it’s all the same amount of work anyway, so why not ask for 2 times, or 3 times the minimum order and see what you get!  If only one in ten of your prospects buy the increased amount, how much more money would that mean to you?

The fun part about consistently asking for more is that you’ll end up getting more – and every time you do, you reinforce the habit to do it.  And as soon as you get a taste of closing bigger deals, you begin looking for and expecting them.  Try it and you’ll see for yourself – it’s one of the simplest things you can do to make a lot more money.

So there you have it – two simple ways of closing more business and making more money.  Just remember, as you’re reading this the NFL players and coaches are working on the simple things to improve.  You should be doing so, too!

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How to Sell A Pencil – And Your Product Or Service

If I gave you a pencil and asked you to sell it, how would you go about it?

This is one of the most basic of interview questions for sales reps, and the answer reveals so much about your previous training, your understanding of the sales process, and ultimately about what kind of sales rep you are.

So, what is the most effective way to sell a pencil?  Well, first let’s look at how most sales reps go about doing it.  When I’m interviewing sales reps I love using this technique.  After letting a rep tell me how good of a closer they are, I pull out a pencil, hand it to them, and tell them to sell it to me.  And off they go!

80% of sales reps start the same way – they start pitching.  “This pencil is brand new, never used.  It has grade “2” lead and a bright yellow color so it’s easy to find.  It comes with a built in eraser,” etc.

Some reps can (and do!) talk about it for 5 minutes or more before they ask a question or ask for an order.  As the sales rep rambles on, I begin to yawn, roll my eyes, etc.  Amazingly, this just makes them talk even more!  “What’s wrong with these people?” I think.

Now let’s look at how the top 20% go about selling a pencil.  As soon as I give a top rep the pencil, they pause, and then they begin asking me questions:

“So how often do you use a pencil?”
“How many do you go through in a month?”
“What other locations does your company use pencils, and how often do they order them?”
“What quantity do you usually order them in?”
“Besides yourself, who’s involved in the buying decision?”

Quite a difference, huh?  I’ll tell you right now, I listen to hundreds of sales reps in a month and they can easily be separated into these two groups:  Those who pitch, pitch, pitch, and those who take the time to understand their prospect’s buying motives, and properly qualify to understand the entire selling process.

Now let’s see which category you fit in.  When you speak with a prospect for the first time, how much of your script is focused on describing and pitching your product or service as opposed to questioning and uncovering buying motives?

If yours is like most scripts I review, then it’s filled with descriptions of what you do and how your product or service helps them.  Most scripts attack the prospect with a barrage of “value statements” that turn people off and make them want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.

Want a better way?  Then take a tip from some of the best “pencil sales reps” and change your script and opening to focus more on questioning and discovering whether you’re dealing with a qualified buyer and what it might take to actually sell them.

Without knowing this, you’ll just end up with a lot of frustration and a lot of unsold pencils at the end of the month.

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