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Handle Objections in Six Easy Steps

Objections aren’t a problem, as most salespeople think. Instead they’re a sign that the prospect is interested enough to raise the issues that occur to him. So responding well to an objection and doing it in a respectful manner can be a huge step towards closing the sale. Here’s a strategy for coping with any objection that your prospects might throw at you.

1. Listen
If you don’t fully understand what the prospect is objecting to, you won’t have much luck resolving it. Pay attention to not only what he’s saying, but how he says it — tone and body language can convey more information than words. Listening carefully also shows the prospect that you respect him and his concerns.

2. Expand
Once the prospect has stated his objection (and be sure he’s done talking before you jump in), the next step is to make sure that you grasp the real issue. Don’t echo back exactly what the prospect says because it will sound bizarre to him. Instead, say something to encourage him to give you more detail. Try to phrase your response in a way that shows you were listening, without repeating exactly what he said. For example, if he says “Those machines break down all the time,” your response might be, “Really? Reliability problems aren’t something I hear about much from my customers. Can you tell me more?”

3. Explore
Sometimes a prospect won’t want to reveal his real concern, especially if it’s related to money. Many people are embarrassed to admit they can’t afford to buy something. So as the prospect is telling you about his objection, look for clues that his real concern is something deeper. If he brings up reliability, perhaps the real issue is that he’s read some bad press about your company and that’s why he doesn’t trust your products. If he won’t talk about the objection in more detail or come up with specific examples when you press him, that is an indicator that it’s not the real problem.

4. Respond
Now that you’ve collected all the information, it’s time to respond. An objection is really a symptom of fear, so you need to answer in a way that addresses that fear and resolves it. The more specific your response, the better. If you can cite specifics or tell a story of another customer who successfully resolved the same issue, that can help a great deal. If you’ve gotten the sense that the issue at hand is just a cover for something deeper, you still need to resolve it — but watch the prospect for clues so that you can uncover the real problem. And no matter how silly an objection seems to you, always treat it with respect.

5. Double-Check
Once you’ve responded, you need to check with the prospect to see if he’s accepted your solution. This can be as simple as saying something like, “Does that answer your concern?” If he is still uncertain, probe again for more details so that you can figure out how you missed the mark. Here is another point where any hidden objections can come to light.

6. Redirect
If the prospect responds in the affirmative, quickly check if he has any other concerns to bring up at the moment. If not, you need to bring his attention back to whatever you were discussing before the objection came up. If you were in the middle of a presentation, quickly summarize the last few minutes and then move on to the next part. If you were closing the customer, start your close over and see if it takes this time.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.