Written by Sean McPheat |
3 September, 2019
There’s a saying in negotiations that goes ‘The person in control of a conversation is the one asking the questions.’
Think about that for a moment and you can see the sense in it. When someone asks you a question, they immediately put you on a course of finding the answer. Your thought processes are controlled by the nature of the question, and you seek the answer to what they have asked.
In a sense, dealing with objections from customers is a similar process.
Rarely do customers tell you the whole story when they present an objection. Most times, it’s a short phrase or sentence that doesn’t cover the real reason for the objection. Examples could include:
You’ll see the common theme running through all of these – you don’t have enough information to deal with it.
The worse thing to do is to respond with an answer that tries to dispute their objection or disprove their current opinion about the situation.
Instead, you need to deal with the objection effectively by being curious about what made them come up in the first place.
As we said at the beginning, the person in control of a conversation is the one asking the questions. So, what’s the first thing you should do when an objection comes up?
Well, here is a question that can be used in EVERY case and will guarantee you improve your chances of dealing with them. You should ask ‘What makes you say that?’
Here are some examples:
Customer: ‘I need to get further quotes.’ You say, ‘What makes you say that?’
Customer: ‘We don’t need this right now.’ You say, ‘What makes you say that?’
Customer: You’re too expensive.’ You say, ‘What makes you say that?’
You’re now in control of the conversation and the prospect feels obliged to answer you with further details. You haven’t pre-judged the situation or tried to justify your prices. You’ve simply handed the batten to the other person and asked for more detail with a simple, detail-enhancing question.
It also prevents you from trying to justify your position or your product presentation and risk not being clear about what the real nature of the customer objection actually is.
For example, if the customer said ‘you’re too expensive’ and you immediately went into solution mode with something like ‘Well, I’m sure we can come to some agreement on price, as I am allowed some discretion in offering discounts’, you’ve opened yourself up to demands from the customer that might not have been necessary if you’d clarified the real issue first.
The question ‘what makes you say that?’ now gets the customer to go into detail that they maybe wouldn’t have done without the question.
Again, with the ‘too expensive’ example, they could mean they have researched you against competitors and you are more expensive than they are, or they bought similar products two years ago for a cheaper price, or they have a figure in mind and your price is higher, or they would buy from you if the price was a little lower.
Without that simple, five-word question, you run the risk of answering an objection in the wrong way.
Try this the next time a prospect raises an objection and see if you become clearer in your mind as to the real nature of what is stopping them from going forward with you.