Can you REALLY Overcome an Objection?
I've taken a six month hiatus on writing, but there's many topics for me to catch up on.
After recently onboarding a half dozen new hires, I have realized one question just keeps popping up:
"Stephen, how do YOU overcome objections?" I've had answers for that one over the years, but I recently came to grips with an interesting fact: I don't.
What I mean is, I am not the one who overcomes objections - the person raising them does. Allow me to explain further: You go out to eat and order a diet Coke (because ordering anything else in the Atlanta area is paramount to a sin, and could be met with legal ramifications in some jurisdictions). Anyway, the server says "We have diet Pepsi - is that OK?". Now, YOU have a choice. Please forgive my simple example, but it matters with large purchases, too. In my example, it is the restaurant patron that must make a choice. You, as the customer, have some choice responses:
1) "I think i was clear. I ordered a diet Coke. If you don't speak English, please grab someone who does."
2) "Hmmm. That's unfortunate. (to your date) Honey, let's go."
3) "I guess I'll just have some sweet tea, then. (Also nearly religious here in Atlanta!)
4) "Oh. I guess that will be fine"
See my point - it is the BUYER who overcomes the obstacle with their decision. It is actually the expert SalesPerson's job to actually begin by UNDERSTANDING, not OVERCOMING, the objection!
Understand it? Yes. Back to my example - clearly the patron wants a soft drink. Easy enough to understand, right? However, as the decision complication grows, so does the ability to understand or process the concern. So, in more complicated examples, it is the DUTY of the salesperson to not attempt cheap parlor techniques to overcome objections, but rather to focus their energy on UNDERSTANDING them in the first place- ready for an example?
Potential buyer says "I hate how small these backyards are."
Is this an objection? Maybe not! Right now it is just a comment! I bet if you polled the residents of the same location - you know... the people that actually LIVE there - they probably didn't love the backyard size, either. They just found the TOTAL equation to their liking. Just like the patron who chose Iced Tea or another product, they found other reasons that were compelling enough to live there.
So, what are you to do? THANK them for sharing - make people feel comfortable telling you how they really feel. So, the right response is to simply say, "Thanks for sharing that." If they seem really passionate, you ask a follow up question, like: "Thanks - tell me, what exactly are you looking for in a backyard." Or, "You seem to have a plan for the yard - help me understand the vision so I can help you realize it." Don't be combative. It's too early in the conversation for "feel, felt, found", "minimize the concern" or other outdated and poor techniques.
As Stephen Covey stated in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," it is your job to "Seek first to understand, then be understood." Imagine how your customer feels when they sense you really care to HEAR them? Think they are more likely to open up and tell you their deepest concerns? You bet!
Now, after you've spent time and really understand them and their concerns, you should have gotten to the "core of the apple" - the things the customer REALLY cares about - spend your time on those, and you will be spending your time wisely.
In the meantime, seek to UNDERSTAND, not just OVERCOME, your customer's concerns.