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Make opportunities from objections

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Top Ten Selling

The best salespeople know that an objection from a prospective customer is an opportunity. It is a clear sign that the prospect is giving your product or service consideration and may be on the verge of buying. The best salespeople are “expert” at handling objections. As an example, let’s say you are a Realtor and your prospects tell you that the price of the house they are most interested in is too high. You ask questions to better clarify the full concern, share understanding, rephrase the objection to price as a question and offer a justification for the higher price based on other identified needs. The prospect agrees, you begin closing the sale.

Easy for you, but when I was just starting out in sales at Motorola I was horrible.

One morning I met with a man named Raymond Thacker of Raymond Thacker Hauling Company in the parking lot of the Cahutta Lodge near Ellijay, Ga. I thought I was going to meet Raymond, get an order signed and be the proud owner of a two-way radio sale, but it didn’t go that smoothly. First, we were talking about two-way radios in freezing cold, windy, drizzly weather on top of a mountain in a parking lot. Second, the wet, steamy hood of my beige Chevy Nova was acting as my desk top and my brochures were sticking all over it. Third, Raymond was chewing tobacco and spitting into a Styrofoam coffee cup from Hardee’s. And finally, it didn’t appear that Raymond really wanted to buy any two-way radios. Two-way radios were expensive and Raymond said he couldn’t imagine that spending that kind of money would help his business in any way.

“I don’t think dem dogs will hunt!” he exclaimed.

A million thoughts passed through my mind, including: It’s cold as heck out here! Why is he calling two-way radios “dogs that won’t hunt?” He almost missed the Styrofoam cup that time and spit on my shoe. What did I learn about how to handle objections like this in sales training? Oh yeah! Share appreciation for the customer’s concern, rephrase the objection to expose the true concern, and turn it into a question you can then answer!

What happened next happened very quickly. It was similar to what happened once at a birthday party that I took my five-year-old son to. The eight-month pregnant mother of the birthday boy, wearing a snug, blue maternity top no sooner opened the front door to her home when my son blurted out, “Wow, Daddy, she looks like the blue blow-up whale in our pool.”

“We really can’t stay,” I said as I turned toward my car and simultaneously handed her the present.

“I understand!” she said as she firmly closed the front door.

I can’t remember the exact words I said to Raymond. I honestly think I immediately blocked it from my memory, refusing to believe I was capable of such nonsense. To the best of my knowledge it was something like, “I understand your concern. So you’re worried that the base station won’t be able to hunt … uhhh … I mean, talk … to the spensive … I mean, expensive dogs on the mountain?”

Raymond turned immediately and got into his truck while simultaneously spitting into his Hardee’s cup. “Thanks fer yur time,” he said. “Don’t bleeve I need em!”

“I understand,” I said as his truck passed, splashing water on my already soaking wet shoes.

In time, I learned that the key to handling a prospect’s objections was to learn how to listen. It is important to listen to gain an understanding, rather than listening and thinking about what you are going to say. The rest of “objection handling” came easy.

I also learned that I needed to better understand what my product could and could not do. Sometimes “Dogs won’t hunt!” and that would have been the case had Mr. Thacker purchased two-way radios for his trucks. Later I learned that there would have been little to no two-way radio coverage on the side of the mountain where Mr. Thacker’s trucks operated. His truck drivers would not have been able to hear or talk to the dispatcher at the base station.


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