When The Customer Says No
They don’t always say yes! That might be the very first thing you learn as a salesperson. As a matter of fact, “no” in all its various forms and expressions, may be the one word that sales people hear most commonly. It is amazing, then, that so few of us are equipped to effectively handle it.
Every sales person should become adept with simple process of handling “no.” What do you do when the customer says “no”?
Step One. Empathize.
Begin by empathizing with your customer. That takes some of the tension out of the situation, defuses any defensiveness on his part, and builds a positive atmosphere. Empathizing requires you to do two things. First, make a statement indicating that you understand how the prospect thinks or feels. Second, support that statement with some proof.
TOP SHELF TIP NO. 214
“Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.”
Stanley Marcus president and chair of the board of Neiman Marcus, 1905-2002
Here’s an example. Let’s say your prospect has said, “I want to think it over.” You respond by empathizing. You say, “I know how you feel,” (that’s your empathizing statement). ”Many of my other customers responded the same way when they were first presented with this concept,” (that’s your proof). Your proof is the reason they should believe that you really do understand how they think or feel.
When you empathize with the customer, it takes the tension out of the situation, and puts you squarely on the customer’s side. Now, you can move on to the next step.
Step Two. Probe.
Once you’ve empathized with your customer, then ask questions. Generally, when you’re responding to an objection or evasion, the issue is too general to deal with effectively. Often your customer hasn’t accurately articulated the thoughts in his own mind. Your questions, therefore, should be of the type that requires your customer to think more specifically.
Back to our example: After you’ve empathized, next ask, “When you say that you want to think about it, what specifically is it that you need to consider more deeply?”
Notice the question asks the prospect to think more specifically — to move from the general to the specific. When you phrase these questions, add the words “specifically” or “exactly” somewhere in the question and make it as non-threatening and open-ended as possible. Your tone of voice should be inquisitive, not confrontational.
If you have done this well, your prospect will talk a bit, and share more specifically what he/she is thinking or feeling. Now you have some better information with which to deal.
Step Three. Verify.
When he answers, you then rephrase the answer and feed it back to him, confirming that it really is the way he thinks or feels. Back to the example: He says, “Well, John, I’m not sure about the price. It’s more than we had planned in the budget. I’m not sure we want to pay that much.” That would be a great answer, because it reveals the specific issue that is bothering the prospect.
Now, you rephrase it and ask for your customer to confirm what you’ve said. ”Okay. So, you’re concerned about how you can pay for it when it’s more than what you had budgeted. Is that right?” He says, “Yes, that’s right.”
When your prospect confirms it, you have successfully probed and clarified his evasion or objection to the point where you’ve moved from the general to the specific. Now, you can deal with it.
As long as he maintains that he “just wants to think about it,” there is little you can do to move the project forward. However, once you understand exactly what the issue is, you can respond to the objection. Notice the very last thing that happened in this exchange, he said “Yes.” You have changed the emotional environment from tense, negative and confrontational, to relaxed, positive and collaborative. Now that you have influenced the atmosphere and clarified the objection, you can respond.
Source: Dave Kahle is an international speaker, sales coach and author of seven books including Question Your Way to Sales Success and Take Your Performance Up A Notch. He has been the top salesperson in the country for two different companies, in two distinct industries and selling situations.
Click here for more information on his video training programs.
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