As a salesperson you’ve no doubt been taught that in order to close the deal, you must overcome your prospect’s objections. The Tell-Sell-Yell syndrome is an unfortunate result.
This approach is not restricted just to sales reps – many people demonstrate this syndrome whenever they try to convince others of their point of view. But there’s the rub – they’re trying to persuade and convince another until they give in and buy their ‘thing’.
The term ‘overcoming objections’ conjures images of force or ‘power over’ another – a method that totally fails to provide the ultimate goals of customer satisfaction, repeat business and referrals.
It deals only with the visible, the voiced objections. But, as skilfully outlined in Judith E. Glaser’s book Conversational Intelligence, it’s the invisible, that which is occurring internally for you and your prospect, which determines the outcome.
Words are powerful. They not only convey ideas and meaning, they also stimulate emotional charges within us that either incline us to opening to more information or shut us down in fear. Each of these reactions correlate to different chemistry in the brain which directly impacts our ability to listen, process, analyse and decide.
Rapport Is More Than Just Being ‘Nice’
Whenever we feel anxious and uncertain we instinctively become resistant and closed. This is why cold calling can be so difficult. When the neurochemistry of fear is triggered the instinct to protect and defend takes over and we’ll clutch at any excuse to dodge engaging an unknown.
To ensure your prospect hears what you have to say, you must first calm his brain’s sensitive fear centre so your information reaches his smart brain (the prefrontal cortex) where logical thinking and rational decision-making occur. Approaching your prospect with the intention to create a safe environment for open and honest discussion and candidly acknowledging your desire for your product or service to be a true fit, will go a long way to allaying any fear.
What Are You Listening For?
When you listen to recognize and overcome objections, your agenda is adversarial and your mind is focused on advocating your point of view. When you fail to listen to connect or with genuine curiosity to learn and discover your prospect’s view, you open the potential to move him back to a state of fear and reluctance.
The level of fear determines the level of adrenaline in the body, and adrenaline inhibits the production of oxytocin – the feel-good hormone enabling connection and bonding essential for building trust.
In order to connect try asking your prospect questions to which you don’t have answers. This is a great way to open the dialogue and demonstrate you have your prospect’s interest at heart. Listen to discover and understand his world – without judgement – rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
When we’re intent on advocating our own point of view, we tend to ask questions for which we already have answers. In fact, often our questions are thinly disguised statements designed to position another to agree with us. Unfortunately such exchanges close down your prospect by making him suspicious and distrustful.
Listen to yourself. Are you validating your prospect by reflecting back to him what you hear? Can you find a way to acknowledge and genuinely appreciate his experience? Seeking to understand shows you care, and caring and candour produces connection and promotes trust.
Bridging Differing Realities
When engrossed in your own point of view, you aren’t able to appreciate your prospect’s perspective. You’re not hearing and trying to understand his ‘story’ – how he sees his situation. Your focus is only on your interpretation of his objections, an interpretation that is never the only one possible. This leads to a mis-match of meaning which leads to assumptions and false conclusions.
Listening to stand in your prospect’s shoes allows you to discover more of his story and provides you the very best information for presenting your product. Taking time to clarify words and phrases will make your prospect feel ‘seen’ and help you both find similar meanings and common language to close any gaps between perceptions. This elevates the level of your conversation and deepens connection.
When your body energetically picks up a lack of connectivity it usually triggers in you a stronger need to persuade your prospect his concerns are invalid and dismissible, and that your product is ‘right’ for him.
We all have a strong need to be right. Why? Because when we convince someone we’re right our brain gives us a squirt of dopamine – the highly addictive reward chemical. And while a win makes us feel good, it makes the other person feel bad.
Using pressure to influence your prospect may win you one sale but it won’t create customer satisfaction, win you repeat sales or generate positive referrals.
Approaching selling with an open and curious mind and with the intention and knowledge to make it an exploratory and mutually enjoyable conversation will help you achieve sales success with more frequency, greater ease and deeper personal fulfilment.