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The Dos and Don'ts of Handling Objections

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When you hear the word “objection,” do you think of lawyers jumping out of their seats on television? When they do so, they’re effectively stopping the forward movement of a trial. They’re breaking the train of thought on which the other attorney may be leading the jury. It’s an interruption.

In selling, however, objections shouldn’t be considered interruptions. They should be considered a normal part of the process. So, in order to break that old mindset you have, first stop calling them “objections.” Instead, view them as “concerns.” A concern is something that needs to be addressed along the path toward a closed transaction. It may be a fork in the path, but it’s definitely not a stop sign.

It’s human nature to object, hesitate, stall, or procrastinate when making decisions that impact our money. We have to feel absolutely confident that what we are buying will give us all the benefits we want, or that the location of our money and how we’re managing it is wise. We have to be comfortable with the value we are receiving for our hard-earned dollars. I know that’s true for me, so why should I expect my clients to be any different?

When you expect to hear concerns instead of fearing them, you will begin to grow a more successful practice. Learn to listen for them, to anticipate their arrival, and you’ll be amazed to learn that you are hearing basically the same three or four concerns in nearly every situation. That’s when you can begin doing some serious analysis. Spend a few hours thinking about each of those concerns. Why are your prospects saying these things, and what can you do or say to help them get past these points comfortably?

First, begin by putting yourself in their positions, and you’ll discover that most prospects object out of fear. They’re afraid to make a commitment with their money, that the product won’t live up to their expectations, that you are a “take-the-money-and-run” agent who they’ll never be able to reach again when they have questions or problems – the list can go on and on.

Once you realize this, you can begin to make some changes in your presentations. For example, you may want to eliminate words that provoke fear – words such as “monthly payment” or “premium.” After all, when we hear the phrase “monthly payment,” we visualize ourselves writing out yet another check every single month. That’s certainly a negative image, isn’t it? Try replacing the term “monthly payment” with “monthly amount.”

In the end, concerns are defense mechanisms. They are ways for clients to tell you you’re moving too fast. They are ways the clients tell you they need more information before they can feel confident about going ahead. Always remember, the prospect is not objecting to you personally. They are objecting to some aspect of the product or service that they are not yet comfortable with.

For every concern you encounter, there are two “don’ts” and one “do” to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t argue. If this sounds silly to you, good. You already know this. But, even though you know it, do you fight with them in the back of your mind? If you do, eventually it will begin to show. When potential clients object, they’re asking for more information. If the agent gets upset, sarcastic, or applies pressure, they are, in essence, killing the sale. If the agent wins the argument, the prospect is beaten and will often find a way to get back at them – usually by buying a policy with somebody else.
  2. Don’t attack them when you address their concerns. Learn to be sensitive to how your prospects feel when they voice their worries. Show your own concern for helping them to save face, not a determination to prove them wrong. If you start fighting their feelings, their negative emotions will always take over. Defense barriers will go up and you’ll have to work twice as hard to earn their business.
  3. Do lead them to address their own concerns. A true professional always tries to help prospects answer their own objections. Most prospects will do just that given time and a little information. After all, they wouldn’t waste their time objecting to something they didn’t want to own, would they? So, your job when you hear a concern is to ask the client to elaborate on it. Say something like, “Obviously, you have a reason for saying that. Would you mind sharing it with me?” This will get the client or prospect talking about what’s really behind their concern. Once you understand what’s really holding them back, you’ll be able to address that issue by educating them about the solution you’re offering.

In many cases, when clients do elaborate on what’s bothering them, they’ll talk themselves right through the concern and set it aside without you ever having to say anything. They may realize that you’ve already covered that point or you may need to revisit a point they’ve forgotten about.

The key is to stay calm and keep questioning what’s holding them back in a gentle, concerned manner until you find the real concern. Then, you address it and move on to closing the transaction.

Tom Hopkins is a sales trainer and chairman of Tom Hopkins International. He can be reached at 800-528-0446.