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Friday, January 30, 2009

Handling Objections

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Customer Attitudes

Handling customer attitudes is a stage in sales (selling) process. Therefore, it will be a good idea to refer URL to brush up knowledge of selling process.

Normally most people limit themselves and focus only on handling customer objections. In fact, handling customer objections is one part of handling the customer attitudes. Therefore, we must tackle all the aspects of customer attitudes. Customer attitudes are displayed by the customer throughout the sales (selling) process. So, sales persons needs to assess and handle the customer attitudes.

Four Customer Attitudes
  • Acceptance: Customer agrees with your benefits and has no negative feeling towards your product.
  • Scepticism: Customer is interested in a particular benefit but doubts whether your product can readily provide that benefit.
  • Indifference: Customer shows a lack of interest in your product because of no perceived need for it's benefit.
  • Objection: Customer displays opposition to your product.

A Stalling Customer

  • There are times when a customer may attempt to hide a negative attitude by stalling. He may say: why don't you call me after four months or let me refer your offer to my colleagues and we will let you know.
  • Stalling may be a cover up for scepticism, indifference or objection. When a customer stalls, the sales person should continue probing the customer to uncover the hidden attitude.

Handling Scepticism

  • When the customer doubts whether your product can really provide the benefit, to assure him that your claims are legitimate, you will offer the proof.
  • Some of the sources of proof are: brochures, company contracts, data from research studies, demonstrations, magazine articles, professional journals, testimonial letters, third party references etc.
  • When you make a proof statement, you do three things: restate the benefit, prove the benefit and personalize the benefit.
  • When the first proof state is not accepted by the customer, you will have to probe further and provide a second proof statement.

Handling Indifference

  • In case of a satisfied customer, (closed) probing will help you to spotlight areas of possible dissatisfaction with the product he is currently using so that you can then support those uncovered needs.
  • For a customer who does not recognize any need for your product, (closed) probing allows you to direct the conversation to potential areas of need that can be supported with benefits of your product.

Handling Objections

There are three types of objections:

Real objections: The customer raises this objection since he believes that your product has some deficiency resulting from poor performance he has experienced or observed, misconceptions about your product or due to competitive influence. If you can successfully answer the real objection, you can usually make a sale.

Phony Objections: These are vague statements that usually mean the customer wants a socially acceptable way of telling the sales person to go away. These objections are presented by the customer to a pushy sales person who has not demonstrated any contribution to solve customer's problems. An amiable customer reluctant to tell any real complaint about the product can also raise phony objections. Uncertain customers who want to stall the buying decision also may raise phony objections.

Banter: It is a teasing or griping sort of conversation which people who know each other well sometimes trade back and forth. Friendliness is communicated non verbally despite a hostile verbal comment. banter offers an acceptable way of expressing unpleasant or negative feelings without direct confrontation. In fact, it serves to reduce tension.

Handling Real objections

There are four techniques to handle real objections.

Feel-felt-found: Say to customer, "I can see why you feel that way (cushion this sentence with human relations statement). Several of my other customers felt that might a problem also. And they found after using/evaluating our product carefully that ........".

Convert to a question: If you can ask a proper question, the real nature of the objection will become more clear. Suppose the customer says, "It costs too much". Perhaps answering a question as to "why does it cost so much" will satisfy the customer. So, convert his statement that product costs too much to "I understand your concern about the cost. What you want to know is as to why does it cost so much?" and then answer the question.

Ricochet: Objective of ricochet is to restate the customer's "no" as a "yes" and return it to him. Customer may say that he likes your service but the spare parts are very expensive. You may give valid reasons for the high cost of spare parts and to confirm that that's how you are in position to give better service as already acknowledged by the customer.

How would you if you had to: This technique can be useful when customer has decided that personally he wants to buy your product but feels constrained by his environment; for example: budget is not available. Here, you can help him to see the reason to buy your product which has potential to save money for the company and therefore, he can send a proposal to his management emphasizing that the product will save for the company and sanction of extra budget is in favor of the company.

Handling Phony Objections

In case of phony objection (or ambiguous objection), make a human relations statement and move on in your presentation.

If the phony objection is repeated by the customer, there is possibility of it being a real objection. Probing will help you understand the real objection and you may have to satisfy the customer on it.

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