Popular Expo East keynote speaker Diane Ciotta returned to the Atlantic City Convention Center to join Monday’s education lineup. Ciotta, a professional speaker with an extensive background in retail sales, shared her experiences in handling objections from prospects and customers.

Ciotta broke her presentation down into four parts: controlling the “no”; knowing the “no”; where the “no” falls in the sales process; and finally, turning the “no” into a “yes.” In a session punctuated by audience questions and interaction, Ciotta went through each point, highlighting how to identify the "no’s" and counter them. As she explained, “Wherever it is, it is important that we get good at not only handling objection, but avoiding it.”

Control is imperative in a successful sales call, Ciotta noted. In volleyball, she said, you can’t score without controlling the ball. Similarly, in sales you can’t close without controlling the call. And a “no" typically revolves around four points: price (the most common objection), product issues, postponement and personal reason, such as past experiences. Ciotta identified personal reasons as the toughest to overcome. Objections typically occur during the approach, at the beginning of the sales process; during the identification and development of prospects’ needs; and at the close.

Ciotta identified three approaches that she has found most successful in countering sales prospects’ objections. One is to empathize with their concerns, as it shows the salesperson understands the issues they have and is a trustworthy partner in overcoming them. The second is to present a third-party perspective, as they have no stake in the sale and their support can be trusted. And finally, to present positive testimonials from other customers to support their decision to buy.

Ciotta’s session ended with an insightful back-and-forth as audience members asked questions and she expanded on the lessons in her presentation.