The following is an excerpt from The Sell Smarter Collection.
“No” is just the beginning.
Sometimes we have the perfect sales meeting. We seemingly hit every hurdle in stride and deftly handle objections before they are even brought up. With meetings like this, we are so on our game, there is no way we can lose. We are Superman, Rambo and Gordon Gecko rolled into one.
As great as you know you are though, I am here to let some air out of your tires. If you got absolutely no objections and they just hopped in the boat, it was probably less than half sales skill and mostly the fact that they just wanted to buy.
Don’t get me wrong. After nearly twenty years selling the same market-driven product, I have been through my fair share of muffin markets.
You know what I’m talking about. Suddenly, you get to work and there are free muffins in the kitchen. Your VP is bringing in lunch three times a week and your sales manager is all about buying dinner for those willing to “stick around, hustle and grind”. They don’t mind the extra expense because there is more revenue to go around. And if you stick around there’s even more. Everybody wins!
In a muffin market, you become an order taker. Demand is high for your product and the price is right. All you really need to do is not offend the customer too badly and they’ll buy from you. As a salesperson, you have to love the muffin market. Don’t get it twisted though because you are not selling here. You are wearing the hat of a glorified cashier. Don’t get this twisted either. It’s OK to just take orders and cash some fat checks once in a while. You earned it those weeks where you pounded the pavement or phones just to make a sale. Make that hay!
Remember this. The salesperson’s job doesn’t start until that first objection.
This is where the sale begins. Up until that point, we are tour guides and spokesmodels. We are giving features and benefits. We are kissing hands and shaking babies. We are hopefully moving the conversation toward a sale.
But we are not selling yet.
Once we hear “I’ll run this by my boss”, “I have to talk to my wife”, “OK, let me see how this fits into the budget”, or something of the sort, it’s game time. This is where we earn that commission. How you react is what separates you, the sales professional, from the cashier.
I love when that first objection comes out.
It tells me the prospect is engaged in the conversation. Ever try driving on fresh ice? Chances are you didn’t get very far because there was no friction. Without friction, the wheels just spin on the smooth surface. To me, that first objection is like sprinkling kitty litter or salt under my tires. The conversation can now begin to move in the proper direction.
It has often been said that objections are just buying signs in disguise. This is so true. A true objection gives you that hurdle to overcome on your way to a sale. Get past the smokescreen objections; uncover their true objection and close!
The problem I have seen with those frictionless sales calls is that you often don’t know if you’re making a ghost sale or not. Is the client putting up no fight and “yessing” us just to get off the phone or end the meeting, or are they the one who wants our product or service no matter what?
In an instance like this, I suggest doing the unthinkable.
Offer them an objection. This is a simple litmus test. If they are buying no matter what, this can have a strange effect. I have had clients in these situations start selling me on them buying from me. The effect is similar to “The Takeaway Close”. Clients will literally start giving you all the reasons they need/want your product no matter what. At this point, it’s time to write up a contract or ring them up. Don’t talk your way out of a sale!
By the same token, if the client was not a sure thing, offering them an objection like “Of course, we want to make sure your spouse is on board before we get this started right?”, gives you an opportunity to really take their temperature and test the water. If they were indeed just being polite, they will jump at the chance to end the call and go on with their day.
It is important that no matter what objection we offer up though, we are prepared to test if they are a true no-shot or a maybe.
We must be locked and loaded with a relevant response and close.
This second test will allow you to cut bait on those prospects who were never going to come through anyway. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather hear a definitive “no” and politely say goodbye than to waste valuable time and energy following up on dead ends. Sometimes folks are too weak to tell you “no” because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
On the other side, if there is indeed some sliver of a shot, you will find it here. Remember, that first objection is a buying sign in disguise. It doesn’t matter if you fed it to them or not. It is a tool to get the on those prospects who were never going to come through anyway. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather hear a definitive “no” and politely say goodbye than to waste valuable time and energy following up on dead ends.
Sometimes folks are too weak to tell you “no” because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
On the other side, if there is indeed some sliver of a shot, you will find it here. Remember, that first objection is a buying sign in disguise. It doesn’t matter if you fed it to them or not. It is a tool to get the
ball rolling in the right direction. Feed the objection, overcome it and close. What happens next? Do they just magically say “yes”? If so, your job is done, but get them signing fast. That lack of friction is still a symptom. Do they give you another objection? GOOD! Rinse and repeat until you have a “yes”, a “no” or a firm follow-up with a relevant reason for follow up and all decision making parties scheduled to be present.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with a lie-down sale every once in a while and nothing wrong with just taking orders in a muffin market. Make hay while the sun shines. Just know that if you want to call yourself a sales professional, you have to S E L L.
Find the homework for this chapter and much more in The Sell Smarter Collection (available on Amazon and all digital formats). More great insights can also be found in Scott’s Seven Minute Sales Minute podcast (available on iTunes and myriad other podcast outlets).