The art of objection handling: Objectively offering an object after a customer originally objects

Do you know how, any time you call a call centre, they play a pre-recorded message informing you your call might be monitored for training and coaching purposes?


Well, your humble correspondent has recently been stuck in Taskmaster Towers listening back over some of those blasted inbound sales calls.


Then again, while it might be a nuisance to handle calls internally (or more the point, to have to listen back to them), you tend to get better sales outcomes and customer service than if you outsource in Old Taskmaster’s opinion. But I digress.


During one of these sales calls, a younger member of our sales team receives a query from a small business owner about our widgets.


The sales rep asks the prospective customer a number of open-ended discovery questions about their business and then suggests a particular model of widget that best suits their needs. They explain a key feature of the widget and how that feature will benefit the customer’s business.


However, when they try to close the sale, the potential customer has a sudden change of heart. “Sounds good but – erm – I’m not too sure… Uhh… yeah, can I think about it and get back to you?” says the prospective customer. They chicken out of going that final step, like Kevin Rudd in a leadership showdown.


The sales rep is cheerful, positive and polite in dealing with the situation. “That’s okay, when you’re ready to order a widget, just give us a call…” says the sales rep.


Old Taskmaster’s blood pressure shoots up dramatically at this point – and yours should too if you hear something similar. Seriously, you’re not going to just accept a customer backing down from a sale at face value, are you?! Face value is something you should not accept from Phil Collins, let alone from your customers!


What this sales rep failed to do was any kind of objection handling.


Objection handling is where, instead of just accepting the customer isn’t going to purchase a product they enquired about, you ask them why they decided not to purchase it.


What the customer will give you in response is a reason why they are doubtful about agreeing to the purchase. Perhaps they’ll say “it’s too expensive” or “what we’re really looking for is a product with features x, y and z”.


This is where you ask some more discovery questions. In some cases, what the prospective customer really needs is reassurance that they’re making the right decision by purchasing the product from you.


If that’s the case, you might talk the customer through some of the ways the product will bring them value – the extended warranty you offer or how this particular product is cost-competitive for the features they’re after – before again asking for the sale.


Alternatively, it could be you didn’t ask the right discovery questions at the start and missed some vital information about what the right product for the customer is. Perhaps you have a different product that better suits their needs?


Of course, if the customer continues to object, you might ultimately propose that you post out some leaflets and give them a call back later in the week. It’s essential to follow up on promise – but that’s a rant for another day.


So make sure you – and your sales reps – do some objection handling first. Don’t take sales rejection at face value.


Get it done – on every sales call!


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