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often smoke screens protecting the customer against possible buyer's remorse or the wrath of
management for making a wrong purchasing decision. Although the customer may be totally honest
and sincere, you may not clearly understand what the concern is.

Sales representatives view objections as the enemy, as traps that customers set to sabotage the sale
and get rid of them. Sales representatives feel challenged by objections because they require an
on-the-spot, unrehearsed response possibly derailing their well-rehearsed, canned pitch. You never
know what the customer might object to or challenge you about. However, objections are an integral
part of the whole business of selling. Without objections, you'd be just an order-taker. The career
opportunities for professional order-takers are dismal and the pay is about the same.
I suggest that well-prepared sales entrepreneurs anticipate and welcome objections. They have learned
the value of objections and view them as a friend, an ally to the conversation. This means that managing
objections should be planned for, just as with any other step of your Sequential Model. Rather than
regard an objection as an obstacle, regard it as an asset to the sale. It depends on your attitude. Even
though objections tend to sound like verbal attacks, you can't afford to have your response sound
defensive or confrontational. With a positive attitude you're more likely to respond without any hint of
hostility, which makes your customer more receptive. A positive attitude can be communicated by use
of a cushioning statement, an empathy statement, such as: "You're right, our price is higher than most,
but what exactly is your concern?" This helps build rapport and encourages trust. Remember, it is your
reaction to the objection that counts, not the objection itself.

Give some thought as to how you view objections. How do you respond to objections? What's your
attitude? You're on the right track if, upon hearing an objection, your immediate response is to ask
yourself, "What exactly does the customer mean by that?" If there's any doubt, and often there is (don't
assume), simply clarify the concern in one of these ways:
 What do you mean by that?
 Is this what you mean?
 Tell me more.
 Please elaborate.
 I'm not sure I understand.

The cardinal rule for managing objections is: Never offer a response to an objection until you fully
understand how it relates to this particular customer and this particular situation.
The cause of objections is somewhat universal. It's an uneasiness brought on by unsatisfied,
unanswered, or undeveloped expectations. Remove the cause of an objection and you remove the
concern. Objections may stem from political reasons (my sister works for your competitor), personal
biases (I prefer to deal with XYZ company), or from prejudices (I've heard bad things about your
company). Most, however, come from unsatisfied personal or corporate expectations. The probing skills
developed in Chapter 7 will help you explore customer expectations. We all feel uneasy about
purchasing something that hasn't dealt with all of our concerns and expectations, voiced or unvoiced.
It's impossible to effectively anticipate all possible objections. Objections are as varied as customers
themselves. I suggest you develop strategies (responses) for the more common objections you may
However, objections are good barometers for the sales call. They show your customer is listening and
they provide a means of clarification while stimulating conversation. Simply consider objections as
conversational speed bumps, slowing you down long enough to grasp what the customer's concerns
are. Look at each objection as a spotlight on a particular concern. Once satisfactorily resolved, each
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grants you the right to advance the sale. Objections are also a means for customers to direct the
conversation in line with their expectations. They offer a huge communication advantage. Rather than
you yacking aimlessly (feature dumping), customer objections provide navigational signposts guiding
you where the conversation needs to go. It helps both of you stay in sync and helps shrink the sales
cycle. The absence”not the presence”of objections should be cause for concern. One of the surest
signs of a bad or deteriorating relationship is the absence of objections. The customer is either bored,
not being candid, or is simply not interested.
It is important, however, to draw a distinction between objections and tough questions. The difference
can be significant, yet subtle. Objections are expressed in response to a comment or information you
provided. A tough question is asked to retrieve information from you. Treat the tough question as just
that, a question to gain new information. Be straightforward and provide specific information that directly
answers the question. For example, the customer might raise an objection right after you bridged a
feature, challenging you to further validate the benefit, whereas a tough question may deal with a
potentially difficult situation that many sales people mistakenly interpret as an objection. The customer
will either be satisfied with your answer, ask another question, or generate a new objection. In either
case, know the difference and employ the appropriate response.
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Five-Step Strategy
Let's look at an appropriate response to managing objections, guided by the five-step strategy.
1. Acknowledge and validate your customers' objections. Don't stick your head in the
sand and hope they go away or the customer forgets about them. Even postponement
of the objection may result in a negative perception or reaction from your customer.
Some sales seminars have suggested that it is best to ignore the objection, that it's
only important if the customer brings it up more than once. Wrong. The next time they
think of it may be after you've left and your competitor is in the customer's office, more
than happy to address the very objection you ignored. Show respect and empathy by
immediately acknowledging the concern. Simply say, "Yes, I can understand your
concern," or, "Other customers initially felt the same way," or, "That's a fairly common
concern in our business. I will be happy to address it." Remember, always express
empathy and sincerity, and never get defensive. Watch your nonverbal responses as
well. Turn the objections into positives by regarding them as gateways into your
customer's thought process. Objections are really just your customer voicing concerns
and explaining primary expectations and needs. Be sure to hear between the lines.
Take the time to think about what is being said and the way it is being said. Sales
representatives too often leap on an objection before the customer has had a chance to
finish talking. The customer barely gets ten words out and the sales representative is
already hammering away at a defensive response: "I have to show he's mistaken, how
could he be so misinformed?" It's a panicky reaction that often sabotages the sale and
the relationship. The best defense is a good, professional offense.
2. Clarify your customer's specific objection. Paraphrase with questions that help you
understand the objection. Though some customers are adept at voicing needs as
needs, others voice their needs as objections. All objections can be used to your
advantage, once you realize that you are gaining valuable information.
Identify their objection as either factual, based on logic, or emotional, based on personal
perception and biases. Objections are usually motivated by one or the other. Factual
objections are much easier to deal with because incorrect information or incorrect
perceptions can be corrected. Facts are objective, universal, and inarguable. Emotional
objections, however, are extremely difficult to deal with. They are subjective and often merely
an excuse or smoke screen. They usually don't follow sound reasoning and may take
patience and persistence to overcome. They sometimes conceal a hidden concern that you
may never be privy to. Once again, effective use of conversational probes will eventually get
you to the root cause of the objection. As you ask questions, stay relaxed, listen carefully
(take notes) and appreciate that you're about to learn something important. As a last resort,
the eventual resolution may have to be to flag it as a C account and move on.
3. Respond to the objection immediately and solve the problem. It represents the
customer's predominant thought at the moment, so make it yours. Remember, your
customer is probably expressing legitimate corporate curiosity, not launching a
personal attack on you.
Satisfying the customer's objection or concern may be as simple as mentally scrolling down
your menu of features and presenting the one that will eliminate the objection. The
"feel-felt-found" method is an effective strategy to manage objections. The sequence is
important and should sound like this: "I can understand how you feel ... other customers felt
the same way . . . but once onboard with us this is what they found . . ." Provide details
about how other customers benefited from their decision to buy from you. A testimonial letter
may strengthen your case. You can actually demonstrate that other customers realized their
initial opinions were unfounded after they tried your product. This is an excellent method,
especially for Socializers and Relators because they tend to care what other people think.
4. Validate that the objection has been satisfied. Don't assume that you have satisfied
the customer's concern. There is nothing worse than plowing through the sale, leaving
behind unresolved, unanswered objections. If you don't resolve them, your competitor
To validate acceptance of your response, simply ask the customer, "Have I satisfied your
concern?" By answering yes, the customer grants you permission to carry on with the sale.
A no answer may indicate that further clarification is necessary.
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Uncover objections up front. Sales entrepreneurs know that certain features of their
product or service may be vulnerable to the competition. Although not all objections can
be preempted, the more common ones can be addressed during the conversation. Bring
it up before the customer does. A sales entrepreneur may approach the price issue by
saying: "Other customers have expressed concern that our product is expensive. Well,
let me show you the true value in relation to the cost." You now go on to bridge the
appropriate features to benefits. Customers have no need to raise objections already
stated and answered by the salesperson. This strategy will help thwart possible false or
shallow objections that may stall the sale. Try to eliminate tough objections early in the
conversation for an objection-free close at the end. A fun example of this strategy: Next
time you're feeling frisky, take two aspirin and a glass of water up to bed. Ask your
spouse to take the two pills. Of course she will ask what they are. When you tell her
they are aspirin she'll probably say, "But I don't have a headache." Great!
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The Price Objection
When was the last time you made a purchase solely based on price? You haven't and I doubt you ever
will. Your customers don't either. Yes, I certainly agree that price is very important, but it's usually six
or seven down the list of importance. Variables within the purchasing decision that may precede price
include size, color, delivery, warranties, availability, after-sales service, quantities, terms and conditions,
and so on.

Price objections are the easiest and most common”they have become a very natural and predictable
part of the call. Sales entrepreneurs expect them. It's as if customers have been trained or conditioned
to raise the price objection during every sales call. Part of the problem is that the retail community
bombards us with advertisements and promotions focusing on price. We've all heard "We won't be
undersold," or "Our price is the lowest, it's the law," or "If you find it cheaper we will pay you twice the
difference." Every time you pick up the newspaper, read flyers, see TV commercials, listen to the radio,
or stroll through your local mall, it's PRICE PRICE PRICE. No wonder when we arrive at our customers'
offices they scream, "WHAT'S YOUR BEST PRICE?" Simply respond by politely asking your customer
to refrain from watching TV commercials, reading newspapers, or listening to the radio ever again. It
seems to be more of a conditioned, automatic response than a legitimate concern.

"You get what you pay for." This clich© has been around for decades but the message seems to be
overlooked by some customers. There will always be customers who have convinced themselves that a
low price is their number one priority. However, my sense is that more and more customers are
appreciating that price is only one small component of the sale. To support my point, I share with you a
comment from economist John Ruskin.

It's unwise to pay too much ... but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little
money . . . that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance
prohibits paying a little and getting a lot”it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to
add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.

John Ruskin


What impresses me is this was written before 1900. The rationale underlying his theory hasn't changed
in 100 years.
Zig Ziglar offers this explanation in support of a competitive price: "Our company made the decision to
explain a higher price once rather than justify poor service and quality several times." Great line. I tell
my students, "You only cry once when you pay a higher price."

What is a competitive price? Research tells us that customers will pay 8% to 12% more for perceived
value. Customers will put their money where their mouth is if you deliver a value-added solution”but
anything over 12% and the customer may resist. For example, if your competition is priced at $1,000
you can charge $1,120 and still be considered competitively priced ($1,000 + 12%). Anything above the
12% may be too aggressive. Hence, your objective is not to match your competition at the $1,000 price
but rather to price it higher due to the value you created. As a consumer, I'm sure that on more than one
occasion you paid a higher price because you appreciated the service and attention you received. Your
customers are no different.
The best advice I can offer is that price should not be discussed during the Discovery or Confirming
steps of your Sequential Model. Price is an issue you negotiate. Don't sell it. What I mean by "selling
it" is that salespeople often try to confirm the sale by focusing the conversation on a discounted price.
Sell a value-added solution during the call, not a price solution. Don't make price the focal point of the
call. I discuss price in more detail in Chapter 10, Negotiation Skills.
Understand the difference between price objection and price resistance. Price objection is a matter of
clear opposition to your price”I can't pay it, or I won't pay it because we have limited funds, and so on.
Price resistance suggests your customers have the capacity to withstand or tolerate your price. They
may not like it initially, but they will pay it. Salespeople often respond to price resistance by
immediately offering to lower it. Wrong thing to do. Try to focus on building value instead of reducing the
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price. Rarely is the sale based solely on price, so don't become an order-taker, getting the sale on little
more than your good looks and a cheap price. Customers buy based on their perceptions of the overall
value you present. So, how do you create a high perceived value? I think William Brooks answers that
question succinctly in his book, Niche Selling. He offers the following formula where V is value, PB is
perceived benefits, and PP is perceived price: [3]

This formula clearly shows that the higher the PB, the higher the value: V increases as PB increases
and PP decreases. For example; if we have a PP weighting of 10 and a PB weighting of only 5, then
V=0.5. However, if we inverse the numbers where PB=10 and PP=5, our V=2. The first example where
V=0.5 tells us that the focus was on price (PP=10). Our second example, where V=2, the focus was on
selling benefits, thus V was four times greater than in the first example. The key to increase the PB is
to focus on bridging the appropriate features to the benefits, as we discussed in Chapter 7.

Next time your customer says, "Yes, but what's your best price?" this is what he really means; "You
did a good job here today Bernie. That was the best feature dump I've seen this week. However, you
have failed to sell me anything of value so I have no option but to create value myself. The only way I
can do that is by hammering you on price. If I get you down low enough, then maybe I'll see some value
and buy from you." When you fail to create value, your customer tries to do it by way of a low-low price.
Not a good way to sell. As one sales manager said, "The day we are the cheapest price is the day we
sell this stuff by direct mail." Let's stop this order-taking stuff and focus on selling true value to our

Consider this: When you pitch features, telling versus selling, the customer sets the price. When you
present benefits, a value-added solution, you set the price. It's your choice.
Brooks, William T. Niche Selling: How to Find Your Customer in a Crowded Market.. Page 28, 1992.

Business One Irwin.
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Bring It Forward
Another common situation involves the stall objection or the timing objection. A customer may say:
"Sounds good but we can't look at it until the next quarter or our next fiscal year. Call me in six
months." The timing may not be good or they need to stall until a new budget becomes available. My
strategy in these situations is to bring it forward”bring the situation forward as if the customer were
making a decision today. Simply invite the customer to enter into the hypothetical arena and ask,
"Hypothetically, if you were to consider making a decision today, what would you be looking for? What's
important to you?" Maximize this opportunity with the customer, do a mini-discovery to learn some
initial criteria for when it comes time to make a decision. You then provide a mini-presentation, giving
your customer some insight into what your solution can offer. If your customer is receptive and sees
value, ask him or her a hypothetical close, "If you were to make a decision today, would you buy from
me?" Remember, reiterate to the customer that this is all hypothetical so by no means are they making
a commitment. By going through this bring it forward strategy, you and your customer know there is
valid reason to take a serious look at you come decision time.
This strategy far outweighs the alternative, which is to say to your customer: "Okay fine, I understand
you won't be looking at this for six months. I'll call you then." Don't leave yourself vulnerable to the
competition. Secure an initial commitment by using the bring it forward strategy and you may pique the
customer's interest enough that he looks forward to having a serious conversation with you at the
appropriate time. Heck, he may even say to your competitors, "Thanks for calling but we're already
looking at somebody."

Your overall objective is to deliver a creative, value-added solution that leaves no doubt in the customer's
mind that you're the best solution. Make a vivid impression with an innovative, convincing presentation.
Cookie-cutter, boring presentations do little to advance the sale”customers buy differences, not
Don't overlook the you solution. Your competitor may offer similar products or services with competitive


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