I was checking out at the local chain bookstore with several books. The cashier started to process the transaction and asked me the question I had heard him pose to the three people before me.
“Do you have one of our discount cards?”
“No,” I replied.
This chain’s discount card sells for $25, and gives you 10% off purchases for a year. Being the math wizard that I am, I calculated that to break even on the card, I’d need to buy $250 worth of books from this store annually. But considering that I also buy a ton of books from Amazon or whatever airport bookstore I happen to wander into during a given week, I had already decided I wasn’t going to get one.
“Would you like to get one?” the cashier asked.
“No, I’ll pass, thanks,” I said.
Then he used what I call the “Goofy Objection Rebuttal Technique:”
“Don’t you like to save money?”
The voice in my head: “And don’t you want me to reach across this counter and smack you?”
Instead, I just smiled and asked him to ring up the books.
But he wasn’t done. As he was bagging up the purchase, he added, “You know, it’s a good deal if you spend a lot.”
At least he was persistent. I politely told him I was capable of doing the math, grabbed my bag, and left the store.
When was the last time you felt endeared to a person who implied that you were flat out wrong, or made you feel stupid? It doesn’t happen.
However, even though everyone resents being told they’re wrong, most sales training suggest sales reps do exactly that: Counter objections and resistance with slick phrases or questions which inherently tell prospects that they’re wrong.
News flash: You’ll never change anyone’s mind by preaching at them. Think about it. If someone started refuting one of your firmly held beliefs, you would likely strengthen your stance, and think of why the other person was wrong.
So why do salespeople try to negate objections through condescending and preaching? This only makes prospects dig their heels in deeper.
Instead of refuting a prospect’s beliefs, what you can do instead is prompt doubt. Get them to question their position, which is the initial hurdle in opening them up to an alternative idea. Remember: People believe their ideas more than they do yours. You can’t tell them they’re wrong and expect success, but you can introduce doubt, which causes them to lower their guard and at least be open to what you have to say.
Here’s an example of how this technique works. Let’s use the objection “Your minimum order is too high.”
First, in advance of even hearing the objection, brainstorm all the possible reasons why it could come up in conversation. For any single objection, you might have multiple reasons.
Next, ask an isolation question to determine if this objection is the only sticking point. For example: “If it weren’t for the minimum, would you buy from us?”
If the objection has been successfully isolated, follow up with a question that prompts the prospect to think critically about their situation, possibly introducing doubt in the process. In our example, this might sound like: “Let’s talk about the minimum then. How much would you say all your orders over a month total, even with your other vendors?”
Finally, think of their possible answers, and outline your corresponding responses. Ultimately you’ll reach an understanding, or determine there’s not a fit.
How could the bookstore clerk have pulled this off? A better way to handle my objection would’ve been:
“It can save you money when you buy a lot here. You’re spending about $80 right now … how much do you think you’d buy in year?”
At the very least, this question would force me to think critically about how much I spend — and perhaps even prompt me to rationalize a purchase of the discount card.
Approach objections in a non-adversarial way. Follow this process, and you’ll be better prepared to ask the right questions which will in turn open buyers up to consider your ideas.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online and is republished here with permission.