The Loop: Filling Your Calendar
With Work, Part 4
Let’s hark back to those golden days of … last week. (If you missed my last article, you can access it here.)
As you’ll recall, I’m sitting with Bob, a prospect for my resume-writing business. I’ve just finished my presentation and asked, “So, Bob, where are we? How do you feel about what you’ve seen so far?”
He squirms in his seat a bit and hits me with his first objection: “Pretty impressive, but I want to think it over a little. Can I get back to you?”
Now, I’m pretty happy-go-lucky and agreeable. I enjoy people and like to have fun. But, I’m just not a “get back to you” kind of guy.
Bob’s in trouble. He’s out of work, looking for a job … and getting nowhere fast.
There are five basic steps for handling objections and questions like Bob’s – and they always work!
The Objection-Handling System: Questions Are the Answer
Step #1: Hear them out. Don’t interrupt. Listen, with empathy and understanding, to the entire objection. Don’t be in a hurry to answer. Although you may have heard it a thousand times before, this is your prospect’s first time expressing his concerns to you. Take your time and relax. You’re ready for this. You’ve already identified the most common objections you’re likely to hear, and you’ve proactively developed and memorized a potent set of responses.
Step #2: Repeat the objection back to the prospect. This is the critical step and one of the best techniques for getting a prospect to answer his own objections. Say the objection back to him in a kind, non-threatening way.
When Bob said, “I want to think it over,” I repeated it back to him as a question: “You want to think about it?”
I did the same thing a few minutes later when he told me, “$500 for a resume is a little steep.” I asked, “A little steep?”
This method has several benefits:
- It makes your prospect feel important and understood.
- It verifies that you heard the objection.
- By repeating the objection as a question, you are, in effect, asking for more information.
Step #3: Question the objection. The first objections you hear may be masking a larger objection. Always ask, “Is there anything else?” and keep asking until your prospect runs out of objections.
With Bob it was, “I want to think about it.” “Is there anything else?” Then he was worried, “$500 is a little steep for a resume?” “Is there anything else?” I just kept asking until he ran out of objections. Most prospects only have a few.
I also questioned each, individual objection. When Bob said he wanted to think about it, I agreed with him, and suggested that we “think about it” then and there. And when we had finished “thinking about it,” I asked him, “Has anything changed?”
I did the same thing with “$500 is a little steep for a resume.” I asked him, “Compared to what?”
When questioning the individual objections, you are asking your prospect to elaborate. You want the whole story.
Step #4: Answer the objection with your pre-planned response. Once you have the objections on the table, you can use your pre-planned responses with confidence. There are literally dozens of pre-planned responses. I’m going to give you two. Both work – it just depends on which one better suits your personality.
Defending the indefensible. If you’re like me – kind of outgoing and fun-loving – make your prospect defend an indefensible position. By agreeing with Bob, “thinking about it,” and then asking him if anything had changed – I forced him to confront his position. He knew he was still out of work, still looking, still bringing in zero dollars, with bills still piling up. He knew, in his heart of hearts, that there was no really good reason to delay.
It was the same with his question about price. By using the “Would you give me $500, if I gave you $75,000” gambit, he immediately saw how silly the objection really was.
I can get away with this approach, because I tend to be laid-back, affable, and a bit of a prankster – just a big, old kid who never grew up.
Feel, felt, found. If you’re of a more serious demeanor, use the feel, felt, found method. If, for example, your prospect wants to “think about it,” the phrase “I understand how you feel” sends a strong message to your prospect that you really care.
Follow that with a third-party endorsement of a happy customer, offering the proof your prospect needs to move forward.
I could have told Bob, “I understand how you feel. I recently had a customer that felt the same way. However, what he found was that thinking about it wouldn’t do a thing to change his situation” … or … “What he found was that although my price seemed high initially, my service, guarantee, and results far outweighed the value any of my competitors could offer.”
Step #5: Confirm that the objection does not block the sale. After I answered Bob’s objection, I confirmed that the objection was no longer a reason for him not to become my customer.
“Is there anything else?” I asked again.
“No … I guess that’s pretty much it,” says Bob.
Once your prospect is satisfied – congratulations! You have just successfully negotiated your way across the objection minefield.
Now you can change gears and move briskly to the last and final step – the close. But that, as they say, is another story for another day. See you next week.
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