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Defining the sales process, part 2

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In our previous article we defined selling as the process that brings about a desired change in the behavior of prospects using needs-based techniques. We said selling includes both objective facts and subjective impressions; consequently, prospects will do business with someone they like. How the prospect feels about the message they receive from us plays a part in the sales process. This includes, but is not limited to, our verbal and non-verbal communication and how prospects perceive our message.

However, in doing so, prospects do something that many salespeople view as an obstacle to salesthey object. Many salespeople tend to falter when they receive an objection because they have a lack of understand of what an objection actually means. We talked in our last article about the four basic objections:

  1. No money
  2. No need
  3. No hurry
  4. No confidence

We also reviewed the fact that these four basic objections will come in two types, emotional and logical objections, and that these objections come in two basic forms, broad objections and specific objections.

You must bring a broad objection down to a specific objection in order to address the underlying buying motive and close the sale. You do this through asking effective questions. To understand what effective questions are it is important to know the difference between statements, questions and objections.

Statements, questions and objections

Statement: Reporting of a fact or opinion

Question: A statement that attempts to gain information

Objection: A statement based on fact or feeling of disapproval

Statements report, questions gather and objections disclose.

Examples:

  • “I don’t like it.”
  • “I won’t buy it because I don’t like the deductible.”
  • “Insurance companies don’t pay their claims.”

Effective questions

Effective questioning techniques provide the sales professional with the framework for obtaining important information from the prospect.

There are three types of questions that are the most effective to ask:

  1. Broad
  2. Specific
  3. Narrow

What is a broad question?

  • Cannot be answered yes or no.
  • The question gathers general information.
  • You generally do not know the answer.

What is a specific question?

  • The question may or may not be answered yes or no.
  • The question gathers specific information.
  • You may or may not know the answer.

What is a narrow question?

  • The question will be answered yes or no.
  • The question surfaces a need.
  • You know the answer before you ask the question.

Two forms of questions

  1. High trust question
  2. Low trust question

High trust questions

Imagine you’re walking through the mall, you walk up to a lady you don’t know and say, “How much do you weigh?”

What reaction do you think you would get. Yet we do this with prospects every day.

More on this topic

A high trust question is one of a personal nature that requires some establishment of a relationship. In other words you have earned the right to ask the question.

Low trust questions

These are questions that are designed to help establish the relationship and result in your earning the right to ask high-trust question.

Three steps to handling objections

One of the biggest mistakes many sales professionals make is to try and fight their prospect’s objections. When you fight an objection, your prospect’s sales resistance goes up, and the sales process becomes much more difficult.

Instead of battling with your prospect, you want to align yourself with them and reinforce that you are on their side. By aligning with your prospect, you validate their concerns, thereby lowering their sales resistance and making their objection much easier to overcome.

The phrase overcoming objections implies an adversarial or win/lose situation. Once you determine the prospect’s specific objection you must handle the objection immediately by using the three-step process below:

  1. Validate the concern
  2. Restate /isolate the concern
  3. Begin effective questioning

It is important to validate the prospect’s concern because you want to:

  • Demonstrate empathy
  • Acknowledge the prospect’s feeling
  • Provide emotional concern

Remember, rebuttals are designed to provide you with enough information to assist the prospect in making a buying decision. The key is to ask questions based on the prospect’s previous answers to your questions.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • The key is to ask questions.
  • The person asking questions is in control.
  • The old adage is the first one who speaks loses. But if the prospect answers first and their answer is yes and they take a policy out with you, how is that losing for them?
  • Make a positive statement.
  • Then an affirmative action.
  • Close and stay closed!

There are two key phrases (standard rebuttals) that are essential to use when validating the prospects concern:

  1. “Obviously you have a reason for feeling that way, do you mind if I ask what it is?”
  2. “I understand how you feel. I have had other customers who felt the same way the first time I spoke with them”

Example:

Prospect: “I am not sure I want to pay that much out of my pocket before your company pays the bill.”

Advisor: “Obviously you have a reason for feeling that way, do you mind if I ask what it is?”

In our next article we will look at some sample rebuttals and closes. Here’s wishing you all the success you’re willing to work for.

For more from Lloyd Lofton, see: