Things aren’t always as they seem.

cross streetLook quickly at the photo of Mark Wahlberg assisting a Nun using a walker.  Looks like he is helping her safely cross the street, right?  Look closer – at the expressions on their faces.  Does the Nun look grateful, happy, annoyed; does Mark look concerned, distracted, frustrated?  Hard to tell, huh?

You don’t want to be the Boy Scout crossing the Little Old Lady across 42nd street, while she is swatting you with her pocketbook, yelling “But I want to cross Broadway, Sonny!”  This is a story I have told my teams over and over again.

Sellers are well-trained in objection-handling, many are drilled regularly on “if this, then that” scenarios.  But the most important skill in dealing with objections I’ve seldom seen taught as a part of that curriculum – CLARIFYING.

This is NOT a post on objection-handling, rather on gaining a new understanding of objections.

Objections can be many things – misunderstanding, need for more information, poor presentation, missing details or, of course, buying resistance.  But HOW do you know what you are dealing with if you don’t ASK?  When you hear something that sounds like an objection do 3 things:

  1. STOP – Take a beat to let it reverberate.  That tells the prospect “I am listening.”  Process what you’ve just heard.
  2. THINK – After you process what you’ve heard, consider what you understand and don’t, so you can form the right questions to ask.
  3. CLARIFY – Ask non-threatening questions to gain understanding of what the prospects NEEDS to feel comfortable, understand or move forward.

I say non-threatening because much sales training, emphasizing obliteration of objections, presents questions that put the prospect on the defensive.  Examples of threatening questions:

  • WHY do you feel that way?
  • WHAT do you find wrong with the solution?
  • IF I could xyz, would you THEN say yes?

Examples of non-threatening questions:

  • Would you please clarify for me?
  • Help me understand what is unclear.
  • I think I understand, but I’m not sure.  Would you please explain what you mean?

Big difference, huh?

It starts with YOU.  If you regard objections in an adversarial way (like our Legistlative Branch functions), you’ll incinerate opportunities and never make goal.  But, you STOP, THINK and CLARIFY, I can’t guarantee you’ll close the deal, but you will extend the dialog, provide the prospect with opportunity to share information and certainly INCREASE your chance to close.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin


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