What is an objection, but an assertion of fear?
Fear that they’ll make the wrong decision, spend too much money, buy the wrong color, type, or size.
Fear that they’ll lose an opportunity, lose face, or the chance to buy something better in the future.
Fear that they don’t know what they’re getting into.
Fear that they’ll blow it, break it, lose it, crash it, fail…
The customer’s objections always stem from some kind of fear.
And what is the opposite of fear? LOVE.
“What’s love got to do with it?” you ask. We’re in it to win it. The goal of marketing is to find good leads to a sale. The goal of a sale is to make money, earn a living, grow the business, earn the respect of our customers and competitors. Sales are crucial. (If only we could get past those peaky objections!)
When St. Paul sat down and wrote to the Corinthians, he penned a challenging list of ways to live. Do you think some Corinthians had any objections? Of course! But the good news includes this bit about love, and if you want to counter objections steeped in fear, the best way to do that is to drop down to the basics.
Love is patient.
You can’t exactly show patience in a blog post or video, but you can craft your content to effectively speak to your perfect percentage of the world. If you do get the chance to talk in person, just listen to their objections. Listen with patience. Don’t interrupt, or you might miss out on the juicy bits that help you understand what’s brewing beneath the surface.
Sometimes I get off the phone and wish I could remember more of what the other person said, than what I yapped about. Shoot, what a missed opportunity! Too little, too late. Don’t make my mistake. Just listen patiently and…focus on understanding.
Love is kind.
Learning how to listen patiently is a skill. The next part is processing the knowledge before speaking.
When a customer objects, she’s exposing her soft underbelly of doubt. This is not the time to pounce, but to show gentleness.
One of my resolutions for 2014 is to take time to ask questions, a natural part of a copywriter’s job. Part of that goal extends to the business side, listening to prospects and deciding in real time whether to even make an offer of my services. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit.
Just yesterday I talked with my friend Jenny in London who had a phone call with someone who was considering her services. This prospective customer showed hints that she wasn’t ready to fully benefit from Jenny’s service. Did Jenny bend her will and force a situation that didn’t feel right? No, she didn’t even make an offer. That was admirable and kind, don’t you think?
It’s just as kind as countering an authentic objection from someone who is truly ready for the outcome you can provide. If your product or service is genuinely going to help your customer and bring a level of peace, clarity, happiness, delight, service, or utility to her life; then you’re doing a disservice NOT to offer what you’ve got. Recognizing and overcoming an objection comes from kindness.
Love is not boastful.
The only thing boasting does is put distance between you and your customer. Boasting says “I’m up here. You’re not.” That’s not going to win him over. There is a time for graciously accepting those roses everyone’s throwing at you, but a fist pump in the face of an objection doesn’t cut it. Think of an objection as a chance to offer a solution. If you take it as an opportunity to leverage yourself and your ego, you blew it.
Love is not proud.
Wait, let’s dissect that word right there. Proud. You’re supposed to proud of your work, your reputation, your company, your service. What’s wrong with pride? The wrong kind of pride interrupts your ability to deliver on your promise. If you’re really “that good,” chances are you’re a little humble about it. Pride can blind you to the chance to improve, even just a little. And our customers continually challenge us if we let them…
Love does not dishonor others.
So what’s a little objection, anyway? It’s true, not everyone is our ideal client. But everyone is worthy of being served. Objections often enlighten an entrepreneur of unsolved problems, and new creative solutions. Honor every objection with a sincere goal of helping your prospect make the right decision. You might find you benefit from it as well.
If you consider it a privilege to serve on all levels, then you might offer additional services to support someone after a sale. That could mean maintenance, follow up, service plans, or even alternate products. A heartfelt objection could trigger a new evaluation of your products line or markets.
Honorable sales is meeting your customer where she is in the moment. and showing them where she could be.
Love is not self seeking.
If you come from a place of service, everyone wins. If you’re thinking at every moment that a sale is at stake, then your thoughts are swirling around what you stand to gain. When that starts to happen, then any objection might even personally offend you. (Not good enough? Not comprehensive enough? Not desirable? Overpriced? Not status-y enough? How can this person not see the value?)
Your customer wants to know the most important thing: “What’s in it for me?” (That’s why they’ve given you their valuable time.) If you start feeling self conscious or inadequate during the moment of an objection, then the sale is already lost.
As you write your copy, visit with customers, or make phone calls, you stand squarely between your commitment to your customer, and her desires and needs. Being able to anticipate an objection with open eyes, the whole self-conscious aspect of selling dissipates. That icky feeling goes away.
Love is not easily angered.
Well, this one is tough. Most times an objection is not a challenge to a duel. But if you feel angry, maybe it’s only because you didn’t lay out the terms properly. If anger rears its ugly head, then look at the way your’e doing business and change it. Make sure you don’t let yourself become a doormat.
As a young sales person selling semiconductor equipment in Silicon Valley in the 90s, I made the mistake of bending over backward every time a certain customer called, even to the point of partnering in a research project together. I was just sure I’d get this account’s business, so I put everything on the line. I enlisted the help of some busy engineers at my company, and moved heaven and earth to obtain and transfer sample wafers between our two companies. When the sale went to our competitor, I was devastated. Givers make this mistake and get burned out if they don’t know how to protect themselves (a topic for another post).
In business, anger usually stems from the feeling that something is not fair, or that you’re being used. An objection that triggers anger means you should step back, re-evaluate your offer, and then move on.
Love keeps no record of right and wrong.
If you keep getting an objection — but no decision — then it’s time to give your prospect his freedom.
Some objections are just stalling, not true objections. On the other hand, try not to place a value on them, and address each one without judgment. Just as there are no wrong questions, there is no good nor bad objection. If someone raises a good point, acknowledge it and direct attention to your overarching value.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth.
You want your customer to be happy because a happy customer makes a happy business. Deception will only make you and your clients miserable. Stand up for yourself, but also know your limitations. The truth will set you free.
Acknowledging how you’re NOT a certain way, can be the key to bringing your customer over to your side. Long ago, I went shopping for hot tubs. The internet was just getting going, so I hoofed it around to the local shops in search of information. At one store, the tubs were so shallow, I thought they weren’t as good as the others. In my mind less water meant an inferior tub. Only when the sales person countered my objection did I realize that mine was one objection he actually enjoyed getting! He pointed out my small stature and how people my size tend to bob at the top instead of ease down into the seats. A shallower tub didn’t have that effect, and besides, less water meant lower heating costs…who knew?
Love always protects…
Do you want a relationship with your customer? Protect her decision to buy with a guarantee, a commitment to stand by her, to support her decision to say yes, or no. An objection is often a question about support. (E.g. If this happens, then how am I protected? If I don’t like something about it, then what? If it doesn’t fit, will you take it back? If It stalls in the middle of the desert, who will come get me?)
Put her worry to rest. Make sure she know’s you’ve got her back.
An objection is a chance to put your customer in the driver’s seat. You answer with honesty and turn the decision back over to her, making the sale a two-way street. Trust allows you to enter into a relationship with a customer on even footing. And it may even pull your contracts and/or terms into better shape. If you’ve been burned a few times (as all new business owners and entrepreneurs have been at some point), then you know the value of being able to trust your customer in the same way that they trust you. Build trust into your offer and you both win.
Have you ever wanted to ask, “How many more objections can you possibly have?” Do you ever feel that the whole sales process is getting wobbly because you both have lost sight of the big picture, the big transformation?
Sometimes, too many objections or ‘nitpicky’ objections are just an indication that your prospect doesn’t have clarity about the real value your provide. Don’t go down that dark path with her. It’s your obligation to steady the pace. You know who you are and how you help, so when you see that the conversation is taking a turn for the bleak, then lift it up. The transformation still exists for your customer, but you must point the way. Bring it back into the light.
You win some, you lose some. Every “no” gets you closer to the next “yes.” In the world of content marketing, you don’t often get the chance to directly counter objections, but you always have another chance to position yourself in a new or different way.
Wrong person? Inopportune timing? Not in a position to make a decision? It’s okay; your content can be shared in another way, on another day, with the right person. Consider putting out a fact sheet with a list of the most common customer objections (FAQs). If you persevere, you’re always ready for the next objection because you’ve anticipated it.
Don’t let fear of rejection cause you to freeze when your customer raises a bona fide objection. It’s a natural part of the sales process and a precious opportunity to earn a happy client. Follow the rules of “love” and enjoy it.
St. Paul’s mission was to spread Christianity all over the land with the powerful sales technique of love. It might work for us, too.