Each month, Alan Sipe, a contributing editor for Professional Distributor magazine, writes a sales skill article targeted to the independent business people who own and operate the various branded tool trucks you see parked at automotive repair shops everywhere. Although this article is written for the automotive repair industry, the sales skills are applicable to everyone.
Is it an objection or a question?
You’re right in the middle of a product presentation on a new Jenny electric 7.5hp stationary air compressor when the prospect interrupts and growls, “How much is this compressor?”
Is it a question? Is it an objection? Is the product too expensive? The prospect used a negative tone, so they must be unhappy with my presentation, right? I’m not done with the presentation and he’s getting antsy, so he’s trying to rush me, isn’t he?
First things first. Let’s understand what’s meant by the question, “How much is this compressor?”
If you think about it, the prospect probably had a compressor that was working just fine. Now the thing just died or is on its last legs and they must get a new one. The prospect isn’t happy with needing a new compressor, so they most likely won’t be thrilled with any price other than free.
In this case, even though the prospect interrupted you with a question, it’s simply that, a question. How you respond can move your potential customer in the direction of saying “yes” to the compressor purchase, or it can blow up in your face.
A simple, straightforward response is always the best. Try being relaxed, and say something like, “It will be between $X and $Y depending on which accessories you choose. Let’s take a look at the accessories and see what you decide.”
If you reply to this question with an argumentative response such as: “Why are you asking that? How much do you think it is worth? We are a lot less than the competition.” Well, then you may have turned a simple question into a deal-killing objection in the blink of an eye.
Always, and I mean always, welcome an objection with a positive response. You don’t want to risk coming across as negative to your potential customer. If you make an objection a problem, the prospect will make it an even bigger problem.
Consider this: A question is simply a request for information and not an objection. You need to answer a question with a truthful and non-aggressive answer. Giving a simple and relaxed answer may sound easy, but it’s often difficult to respond gracefully.
In fact, I’ve had many customers ask the price right in the middle of a presentation, get their answer and say, “Okay, I’ll take it!”
Once you’ve answered the prospect’s question and have given it a few seconds to sink in, one of several things will happen:
- The prospect responds or gestures with something that seems positive.
- The prospect responds negatively with some price objection.
- The prospect responds with a stalling or smokescreen statement.
- If the price question is in the very early part of your presentation, you should just move on with a trial closing question. “How do you like it so far?” It’s not a good idea to ask if the prospect is okay with that price. No one is ever happy with the price.
- If the prospect has a mild negative response, simply move on and see if the price issue pops up again. Your price may seem a bit high to the prospect early in the presentation, but as you go on, they will see the value in the product.
- A strong negative response will need to be dealt with right away, otherwise the prospect will think about it constantly and not hear or appreciate the remainder of the benefits of the product.
You now need to figure out if this price topic is a deal killer, a scare tactic by the prospect for a lower price, or just an average objection. Is the prospect simply saying that they don’t know enough about the product to make it worth that price?
A simple statement like, “I can see that price is an issue for you. Let’s go through the rest of the features and benefits to see if the price becomes more justified.”
The best salespeople handle objections before the prospect has a chance to bring them up. This is called “owning the objection.” If the prospect raises an objection, they own the issue, and you must now defend it. If you present the issue first, then you own the objection, and you have the opportunity to present the issue in the way that best suits your prospect and product.
Here’s an example: Let’s say that the major competitor to the 7.5hp compressor you are presenting has a 9hp motor and this could be a point of concern to the prospect. As you are presenting the motor information, during that part of your demonstration you could say something like, “You will note that our compressor has a 7.5hp motor and some of our competitors have a 9hp. The things to remember are that Jenny has been in the compressor business since 1927, so they have a long successful history of making great products, and a 7.5hp motor will use less electricity than a 9hp motor, which will save you some money.”
Now if the prospect has a presentation by that major competitor after yours, they will not be impressed by their 9hp motor and will hopefully remember the point about saving money.
You owning that objection will be a whole lot easier than defending your product when the prospect says, “Your unit only has a 7.5hp motor and the XYZ brand has a 9hp. Yours seems underpowered.”
The final objection issue for this month is the smokescreen objection, “I want to think about it;” “I want to see what the competition has;” or “I’m not sure about this yet.” In other words, they are saying to you, “I’m not sold yet.”
Again, welcome their statement and let them feel good about it with a settlement like, “I understand you feel this is a big and important decision.” Then immediately follow that statement with something like, “Let’s review the important points of the product to see where your concern is, exactly.”
Now you should go back over the main product features and benefits, plus any points that seemed important to this prospect. With each reviewed point get their buy-in with a trial closing statement like, “You really liked the idea of saving money with the 7.5hp motor, didn’t you?” Or, “You liked that Jenny air compressors are made in Somerset, Pennsylvania.”
Once you have reviewed all the important features and benefits, it’s time to close the deal with an easy logical conclusion. “Mr. Prospect, we have been through all the important features and benefits of this compressor, and you agreed that they all will meet your needs. Let’s get this unit delivered and installed so you can move on with running your business.”
And remember – be quiet. It may seem like two lifetimes, but let the prospect think and respond before you say anything.
Now go sell something.
Read more from guest blogger, Alan Sipe: