The toughest objection to overcome is the word, “No” without an explanation. It leaves us at a loss for what to say in response because we are not quite sure where the value is lacking. That’s usually when the “Yea, but…” justification method starts for typical salespeople. As a sales professional however, it is essential that a specific area of concern is identified in order to proceed with the sales process through the concern and to the Close.

Objections can be overwhelming because there are so many variations of them. If we categorize them into four basic types, then apply a proven technique to overcome them, the whole pursuit becomes more manageable.

The 4 P’s representing the four categories of objections are:

  1. Price
  2. Product or Service
  3. Postponement
  4. Personal

Price objections are self-explanatory. Remember that we have already addressed the importance of value to cost ratio as well as the importance of finding a comfortable investment amount prior to Selecting a recommendation. That said, investment concerns can still resurface just before the Close as a prospect is internalizing the details and weighing the financial commitment to the value.

Product/Service Objections are again driven by the need to validate one’s decision to buy and can be prevented by presenting enough value through solid benefit statements that directly correspond to the potential customer’s need.

Postponement Objections are the most difficult to avoid as they typically do not emerge until just before the Close. Often times the desire to “think about it” is due to the anxiety of potential buyer’s remorse or apprehension to making a commitment.

Personal objections on the other hand, usually surface very early on in the sales call.

The best way to handle an objection in the early stages of the process is to ask good open-ended questions to lead your prospect in the Acquiring Needs step. Remember, objections can be a License To Proceed!

Overcoming objections is like the original way of scoring volleyball. When your opponent had the ball and was serving to you, If you returned the ball so that the opposing team was either unable to play it or if their attempt was unsuccessful, you did not get a point for your hit, you just get the serve back. Why no point? Because that’s the way the game was played. You could only score when you had control of the ball. The rules may have changed in volleyball, but not in sales. We can only close when we have control of the call.

So, when a prospect serves an objection to us, rather than becoming defensive, focus on professionally regaining control of the call because as the saying goes in sports; the best defense is a great offense!

When I first started teaching the concept that I am about to share, I openly asked a group of veteran sales executives if anyone had ever heard of the “Feel, Felt, Found Formula”? One senior automotive salesman in the back of the room responded, “No, but I like it so far!” I’m quite sure my face turned the same shade as my fuchsia suit and I vowed that I would never ask that question again!

Recently I was staying at a hotel in Atlantic City (where I was in town to speak not gamble). I stepped into one of the half-a-dozen elevators in the lobby with 2 other people who were not together. After I pressed the number 6 for my floor I turned to ask each of them their desired destination.

The first answered, “I’m also on 6” and then the other said, “6 for me as well!” To which I shouted, “Triple 6!” in a voice as if I was commentating the results of a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Then to ease their minds that they weren’t traveling up 7 floors with a lunatic, I followed up with, “Well, we are in Atlantic City- that has to be worth something!?”

When we reached the 6th floor, my traveling companions were quick to offer me the first step off the elevator by gesturing in unison with an obvious combination of both being gentlemen as well as to end my attempt to start needless conversation.

Later, I thought more about the odds of 3 random people getting on one of 6 elevators, with 16 options of floors and all three people being destined for the 6th  floor. It could take hours for that to happen, or dozens of rolls of 3 dice to get the same number on each or hundreds of spins on a slot machine to get 3 cherries!

All because it’s the epitome of “the luck of the draw”.

To be successful in sales, we can’t rely on luck. Rather we must put the odds in our favor by engaging in activities that will help us achieve get the results we desire.

Those actions include initiating contacts and not waiting for calls to just come to us, focusing on follow-up versus expecting prospects to call us back, and to confidently outline benefits to our prospects to confirm value based on their needs rather than waiting for them to provide blatant buying signals.

In all of these ways we will improve our success ratio by improving our odds- because there’s no better chance for ROI from our effort than to bet on than ourselves!

When my very competitive older son played baseball on his little league team, he would relentlessly slide at every opportunity.

As hard as he worked to catch a line drive or to be called safe at his intended base, I worked equally as hard to keep those white knickers and socks grass and dirt stain-free! I can still remember soaking and pre-washing in combinations of stain removers and bleach, then washing with a detergent that promised to be the “toughest on tough stains”, and it was! In fact, I was always very proud of my due diligence as I folded up that half of his uniform and placed it in his chest of drawers awaiting his next game and my next laundry challenge.

One Saturday morning my son came into the kitchen dressed for a game and said to me with in a very sincere voice, “Mom, could you try to not get my pants so clean- it looks like I sit the bench!”

What a revelation! Unbeknownst to me, all my effort and attention to detail was resulting in giving the wrong impression. Such is true in the sales process as well.

While it is important to give our customers the service that they need, it is equally as important not to engage in an over-abundance of servicing to the extent where there is a perception that we sit the bench or in sales terms, have very few other clients.

Whether you are new rep just getting started or a veteran rep that has recently taken over a struggling territory, moved to a start up area for your company or simply going through a slow period, it is wise to portray the level of success that you
aspire to as opposed to your current status.

This is certainly not to be deceitful or dishonest. The reason is two-fold. First, to ensure that your time is not taken advantage of, hence keeping you from making those all-important initiating new business contacts. Secondly, people generally have more confidence to buy from successful people. Both of these are addressed with more perceived playing time in the field, just like my young athlete son.

Don’t just make a sale…make a difference!

Potential customers will often hang on our words and we should not take that lightly. Our word is our word and while it is not something that we actually pay for- it can cost us everything if we lose it!  Regardless of the product or service being represented, whether it’s a small investment or a large one, be it a necessity or a luxury, encouraging a potential customer to make a decision to buy for solely our own benefit is never acceptable.

At the same time, choosing to be a the sales industry as a profession is often based on the opportunity to be paid on performance and essentially write your own paycheck., that’s what drives us! That means it should be a mutually beneficial venture. If the prospects’ needs have been met appropriately and with integrity, then the compensation and recognition received in return is legitimately earned and nothing to be embarrassed about or apologized for.  

In fact, as a customer, I’m pleased when a sales executive that has gone out of their way to provide exceptional service, is commissioned, because they deserve it. Whenever you question if you can really make a difference to each and every customer, think about the story I once heard of a young boy picking up washed-up starfish along the beach and throwing them back into the ocean.

His father walking next to him said, “Son, there are so many washed-up starfish all along the coast, by tossing them back one at a time, it would take forever to make a difference.” The boy silently shook his head as he squatted down, picked up another starfish and tossed it into the ocean, then said to his Dad, “it made a difference to that one!”  A powerful visual and an impactful message.

If random people were simply asked, “What’s the first thing that pops into your head  when you hear the word salesperson?” The answers would inevitably include; talkative, pushy, dishonest, annoying and arrogant. Yet, if those same people were asked , “What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word consultant?” Those answers would probably contain words like; trustworthy, caring,  interested, knowledgeable and helpful. But the ultimate question is: “What’s the difference between a salesperson and a consultant?”, and the answer is: perception!

The bad news is that we can’t control the fact that perceptions are realities, but the good news is that we can control our actions that impact those perceptions that become realities. Stereotypically, average salespeople really are talkative, pushy, dishonest, annoying and arrogant! That’s because too much talking and not enough listening is the standard mouth-to-ear ratio of the common salesperson.  As a result, the perception of anyone in the sales industry is in the same regard.

My wonderful grandparents from Italy lived with us when I was in high school. It seemed like every day, Popi would do something to annoy Nonna and you could hear her all the way downstairs ranting & raving in Italian. After about five minutes, when Popi apparently reached his limit and you would clearly hear him shout, “Ah, shut-uppa you!” (I guess there was no translation), and then there was silence.

I often think about that childhood experience in sales situations and wonder how often prospects would like to give annoying salespeople one good “shut-uppa you” and wait for the silence.

I can remember someone once saying to me, “You must be great in sales because you’re a good talker.” I beg your pardon, I thought. It’s actually quite the contrary!  

Here’s the golden rule in professional sales, we’ve been given two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion. In other words, listen twice as much as we talk and talk only half as much as we listen!

We all know that gut-wrenching feeling when we need to make a purchase that requires a salesperson, for example automobiles, insurance, appliances or even electronic devices. It’s not the investment of whatever we’re considering buying that causes the most anxiety, it’s the fear of being taken advantage of by the sales representative that talk us into a corner, right?

It’s true that people won’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care in anything in life. But it is especially true in the sales process when “people” are our prospects. If they first know how much we care, then they will care how much we know, which also makes them more comfortable to buy from us. That confirms the cliché that “people will buy from people that they like”, because people like sales professionals that they trust because of their integrity not their words!

In a professional sales process, if all the previous steps have been done properly, the close should happen naturally. I’m convinced that some salespeople are so busy talking, that they either miss buying signals or even worse, talk buyers right out of buying!

When I was the ripe old age of 20, I was preparing to venture out on my own. During my days of packing, an acquaintance from high school, whom I hadn’t spoken with since graduation, called and asked if he could practice his “sales pitch” on me for his new job selling pots & pans door to door! As busy as I was, I reluctantly said yes, feeling badly for him as I imagined how many “no’s” he must have already gotten, that he was now reaching out to his  ‘said ‘hi’ to her once in the hallway’ list.  

He arrived to our family home right on time and proceeded to line up his products across the kitchen table as he read from his script, pausing to make uncomfortable eye contact with me before flipping his presentation book to the next page. I watched and listened like a good prospect. Then, when he was almost done, he looked at me and intently said, “Do you like it so far?” I replied, “Yes. ’ll take them.” He nervously said, “What do you mean?” Trying to explain, I repeated, “I’ll take them. I need a set.

They seem like really good quality and I trust you.” He shook his head dishearteningly and stated, “But I’m not done yet.” To which I replied, I don’t need to hear any more, I’m already sold.” With all sincerity he responded, “I’m not sure if I’m allowed to skip ahead; nobody taught me that. I really don’t know how to.”  I agreed to sit through the rest of the pre-designed presentation. I can still remember being really tuned out at that point and anxious for him to get to the part where he would say something to the effect of, “Press hard when you sign, there’s four copies.”

That was a long time ago, but it made an impression on me as a customer and clearly made an impact on me as a Sales Professional. At that time, I saw the value to meet a need I had and I trusted the person presenting to me, so it was a match. If I didn’t have that need t that time, it would have been just practice for him. Or if he persisted beyond a dress rehearsal of sorts, with all of the additional sales pieces and mumble-jumble of trying to actually sell me something I had no interest in, it would have been more of a typical interaction of a salesperson wearing down a prospect. Fortunately for me, I was spared the high-pressure sales pitch. Unfortunately for him, that career was a very short lived, as I was his only sale. Forty years later, I still have and use those pots & pans, as well the free cutting board that came with them for buying on the first visit!

With as much as I encourage you to initiate the sales process to start selling, it is equally as important to know when to stop selling!

As in my example, timing is everything!

That’s because of my passion for teaching and encouraging sales executives to always use integrity and to be professional and all times. As a result of that commitment, I expect the same from representatives that are attempting to sell something to me.

It’s very common in the sales process that we become obsessed with connecting  with a particular person, only to find ourselves speaking with a business partner, associate or even a gatekeeper. More often than not, a salesperson will consider this an “unsuccessful contact”. But the reality is that many times a person other than our targeted contact can be just as (and frequently even more) helpful to our end goal.

Recently my 3 year-old grandson was picking on his little sister to a point that he was rightfully disciplined by his father. Despite the fact my daughter-in-law was enjoying a well-deserved night out with some girlfriends, her son decided that his punishment was important enough that he had to contact her and share the details of how mean Daddy was being. From his perspective- he hadn’t done anything wrong because after all, ‘she started it!’

When I was 3, I couldn’t come close to reaching the rotary phone that hung on the wall (Google “rotary phone” for definition) but these days, 3 year-olds have grown up in a world where dialing is done in an entirely different way; my grandson simply picked up his Dad’s smartphone, pushed the appropriate button and proceeded to say: “Call Mom”. Obviously, my son doesn’t have his wife saved as “Mom” in his contact list.

As I saw the call on my phone indicating it was from my son, I answered with  “Hi Honey” to which I heard a sharp, “No! Not you Nonna…Mommy!” My caller was clearly surprised that his dictated request connected him with his grandmother and not his Mom! Through his sniffles – and some background commentary from my son, I got the gist of the story and was able to successfully calm a teary-eyed grandson down, and encourage him to apologize to both his sister and his dad. I was also able to convince him that he didn’t need to bother his Mother. While I wasn’t his intended party, our conversation satisfied his objective without potentially multiple attempts to reach his Mom.

So the next time you pick-up the phone to “Call Prospect” be more open-minded to engaging in conversation with whomever you end up speaking to. Try it for a few weeks and just see what a difference it makes to your productivity as opposed to leaving a message that inevitably never gets returned! Remember what ultimately drives results is “performance producing actions” not just “work related activities”!

Sure, we could have taken Mom to a fancy Easter brunch at any one of the local restaurants promoting $65 & up feasts, but besides the fact that she eats like a bird- all she really wanted was a good bagel with cream cheese & lox!

Our plans were set. Immediately following sunrise service, we would go to that brand-new bagel shop that recently opened. We arrived by 7am and were surprised that only three varieties of bagels were available- none of which were the kind we were looking for! Being located right next to a grocery store, my husband suggested grabbing a few from their bakery. But that was not an option for me…I mean, if I’m going to give-in to that many carbs in one food item; it has to be a fresh, hot, crusty on the outside, doughy on the inside baked circle of goodness!

We jumped back in the car and searched on our smarter than us phones for the next closest bagel shop. Choosing between two, we headed 5 miles further from home to find boards on the windows of the storefront! Without saying a word, I tapped for directions to the other of the two in our search results. Ten minutes later we arrived- and there were no boards on the windows! Yeah! Enthusiastically we walked up together, then sighed in disbelief when the door to the shop was locked! UGH! At that point my husband felt compelled to remind me that the well-known coffee shop on the corner does sell bagels. But I was determined, and in one last search we ended-up at a bagel place one block from our house that was open for business, had all of our flavor choices as well as fresh lox!

They turned out to be the best darn bagels we have ever eaten! While it may sound exhausting…our end-result is what mattered the most. The message is the same from a selling perspective. As sales professionals we will go through many unsuccessful attempts to get a “hot one” but if our desire to achieve is great enough, then our effort will be driven by our determination!

It took four different stops, 12 miles of driving and 40 minutes to find what we were looking for that day. If finding a “fresh bagel” was worth that kind of commitment- then doesn’t it also seem reasonable to apply at least that much effort into finding a “hot prospect”?

Lately, in almost every conversation I have with my father- when I ask “How ya feeling, Dad?” his answer is the same. He says, “Well, you know…while you improve your putting; your long game goes to hell!” Just for the record, my father has never played a round of golf in his 85 years of life and for that matter- neither have I. But regardless of our shared lack of experience on a fairway, his message is clear and with a half-hearted chuckle and a sigh, he will go on tell me how he has to stay focused on balancing all aspects of his health because of his age.

Recently, I repeated that story about my dad in a conversation with a serious golfer. Not only did he support my father’s theory, but we carried on the conversation in agreement that the same concept is true in many aspects of life. For example, too much attention to detail can cause a loss of perspective of the big picture; yet not enough focus on the little things can negatively affect a bigger outcome. Needless to say, this principle is also the case in professional selling.

I often hear sales executives say that they have no time for prospecting because they are so busy servicing regular customers. I wonder if it is really a time issue or actually a focus issue? After all, the more time spent with current clients, the less time available for prospecting, right?

Granted, existing accounts need to be serviced as much as putting needs to be perfected. But if too much attention is paid to business that is already solidified, opportunities for new revenue will…as my dad says ‘go to hell!’ There must be an equal balance of constant focus on the long game through prospecting and following-up or it will continue to take more & more strokes to get that ball in the hole of the close!

We woke up to 7 degrees at 5am this morning. After all, it is January in Jersey- but that’s cold! Relatively speaking of course, in other parts of the country, or in the world for that matter, a single digit Winter morning may be considered mild compared to typical sub-zero temperatures at this time of the year, not including wind-chill factors!

Around midday, I spoke with a west coast-based client sitting in her air-conditioned car with a temperature outside that we determined was ten times warmer than mine! She ended our conversation referring to the weather in the northeast by saying, “I honestly don’t know how you live there.” To which I quickly and confidently replied, “We just think hot & stay warm!”

As off-the-cuff as my comment was, it made me think of prospecting in a professional sales process in the same regard. I mean, whoever canned the term “cold-calling”? Maybe someone sitting in their un-air-conditioned car on a hot Summer day!? Huh?

In addition to the forecast being an excuse for some sales executives to avoid the activity of prospecting…the thought of engaging in an activity referred to as “cold-calling” can be a deterrent, as well.

To defrost the chill of initiating new business contacts, first think of HOT prospects that have the most potential to benefit from you’re selling. Then, reach out to them with a WARM introduction by keeping the focus on them and their needs instead of thinking about your own agenda. Making a good first impression and building a sincerity-based relationship will go a long way to identifying and meeting needs.

SO think hot & stay warm in your prospecting efforts and enjoy the new business that comes your way as a result! And remember…every season is a good time for increasing incremental revenue!