The Objection Wheel
Overcoming objections in a sales presentation is an art and finely honed skill. Most sales people fail to develop this skill sufficiently. Some very good sales people rely on their charm and charisma to help customers overcome their objections however don’t realize why they are even good at the skill. When developed, the best sales people can attribute their outlying success to this very rare and complex ability. Today however, I will teach you a simple formula so you can overcome objections with customers.
Customers buy on emotion and defend with logic. What does that mean? Here are two stories of salespeople…
1. When I was leaving for college, I needed to buy a car. I had some money saved up and had received a gift from my Grandpa. I had $5000 to buy a car. I knew I didn’t want a payment so I, being naive, went to a car dealership and told the salesman, “I have $5000 what can I buy for that?” 😉 He took me to a red Pontiac Grand Am. We got in for a test drive, it smelled bad and had some obvious issues do to the rattling and shaking in the front end. When we got back I told him I didn’t want that car and asked what else he might be able to show me. He said there is nothing else in that price range but he could give me a Great Deal!! on the red car. I said no thanks and we started to leave. He asked us to wait just a second. He then went and got his manager who came over and said, “What do we have to do to get you in that car?” I looked at him dumbfounded. I wasn’t a salesperson yet but I knew they were not doing a good job. I responded, “Nothing, I don’t want that car!” We walked away never to return.
2. Fast forward 16 years… I decided I wanted to buy a new truck recently. Being weary of the mark up and extra cost of a new vehicle I called a dealership and told them I was looking for a used Chevy Silverado. They checked inventory and had something pretty close to what I wanted. I went in for the test drive and really liked the truck. However I drive quite a bit. I tend to put 25-30K miles per year on my vehicle. I was worried that buying a truck that already had 60K miles on it was not the right move. The salesman said if you drive that much you should consider buying a new truck. I told the salesman that I don’t want a new truck they are too expensive and depreciate too quickly. He said, I understand. Then with a twinkle in his eye and a big smile, he said, “Do you want to drive the truck I want to buy?” I said sure, he ran off to get keys and a few minutes later drove up in a brand new Chevy Truck in the color I wanted. I hopped in the drivers seat and we were off. As we pulled out on the main road, he said, “This is the upgraded engine. It’s the same engine that they put in the Camaro! Step on it and give it a try!” I did and was wowed at the raw power and speed I got from a Truck. I turned and looked at him with a big grin on my face, and he said there are some great incentives right now, we can probably get you around $7K off this truck, lets go look at the numbers. As you might guess, I bought the new truck!
Perfect execution of overcoming objections! It is always a pleases me to be able to work with talented salespeople. Lets look at how to do this properly.
Customers are on a roller coaster. They start below the customers emotional base line. Many people just don’t want to deal with a sales person. This is where charm and charisma are key. Once a salesperson gets past the initial hesitancy of a customer they must pull them up above the emotional base line as shown in the graphic above. The error that sales people make is that they will pull the customer up once and then if there is an objection fail to bring them up again. Another error is when the customer is not brought up past the emotional base line at all and a sales person is trying to sell a customer something they don’t want. The sales rep tries to close the deal when the customer is only focused on logic (ex. Price, Payments, Budget, Spouse, etc.). This is where sales people get a bad reputation for being high pressure and pushy!! When a customer feels no emotion or compelling reason to buy they do not want the product. So here is the formula for successful handling of concerns or objections. Called it the Objection Wheel.
The Six Steps are as follows
1. Let the concern roll off your back like water off a ducks back. Often customers plant seeds of doubt in a sales persons head like — I am not buying, it is too expensive or we can’t afford anything right now. The rep needs to have empathy but not sympathy. I had a sales trainer that taught that a sale is made on every appointment. Either you sell a customer on why they can and should buy or the customer sells the rep on why they cannot.
2. Empathize and answer the question. Zig Ziglar taught the feel, felt, found method. I understand how you feel. Others have felt that same way but here is what they found. Then answer the question or ignore it. If there is an answer to the question then tell them the answer. If there is not an answer, sometimes the best approach is to ignore the concern. I watched a sales rep one time, the female customer said, I would need to talk to my husband. The rep replied, I totally understand. Then he went right into a story about a different customer using the product and didn’t say one thing about the customers husband, effectively ignoring her concern. He then went the rest of the way through the objection wheel 3 more times and she purchased. This means her concern was a smokescreen. Customers will say things because they are not sold yet (I need to talk to my spouse, boss, friend, compare prices etc.). They often just need to feel better about the purchase before pulling the trigger.
3. 3rd person story or example or testimonial etc. Use a story or example to bring the customer away from the logic and back to the emotion of the decision. Sale materials can be a great tool here but the most effective tool is a 3rd person customer story who had the same concern and how they overcame it and then bought the product.
4. Move on immediately. It is common for sales people to stall at this point. Once the question is answered and a story is told, the sales person needs to transition back to the drivers seat and move the presentation along. Bring out an additional bonus that comes with purchase or cover in more depth one of the benefits it creates for the customer. Just don’t allow the demo to stall on the objection or answer.
5. Review the purchase; plan, price and package and how it all works again. Re-cover what you have already told them. It is common for customers to not fully understand how purchasing works and a confused customer is an oxymoron. “So basically how it works again is…”
6. Close again. Ask for the order. If a customer is above the emotional baseline, it is not pushy to ask for the order multiple times. In fact if a representative is not asking a minimum of 3 times they are leaving business on the table advanced sales people can ask for the order many more times than that. There is a skill and nuance to being able to do this properly. It is crucial to ask more than once to secure a sale.
As long as a customer is brought above that emotional base line, not only is effective closing not pushy it is expected. A good sales rep is not in a game of tug of war against the customer but is on the same side pulling for the customer.
In conclusion, I always loved this quote from a friend of mine. It is a great mentality for a salesperson because even when you have mastered the skills of selling, no one gets them all. Some will, some won’t, so what…next!