My recent article entitled “Are You Converting Opportunities into Accountable Business” took an unabashed perspective into the posture or mindset of the internet shopper and subsequently the elements involved in that process. At the end of that article I offered a total store CRM checklist for anyone who wanted to join the “We are growing our business club.”
I was impressed with how many of you were interested in receiving that document and are now pursuing new avenues towards true CRM in your stores. Good for you! If you happened to miss the offering for the checklist send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will forward you one. One of the critical elements of that article necessary for solid CRM is how to deal with objections. Again, success here hinges upon being in possession of rock solid 21st century communications and telephone skills. Without these it is like raking water; it just won’t work. The following is a paraphrased rendition of my in store curriculum The Fine Art of Negotiations where I train sales professionals and managers in taking a new look at handling objections.
Objections in our industry essentially come in four forms:
1) Personality conflict (this should not be a problem if you have trained your team in identifying behavioral profiling)
How we deal with these objections will determine if the deal continues to move forward or crumble in its tracks. I ask; are objections good or bad? An objection, frankly speaking, is a good thing. It is all about attitude. If your attitude is good then you will look upon objections as good things that are said, and because they are said it means you are moving the sale forward in the proper direction.
There is one objection however that you can and will never conquer. Do you know what it is? It is the one that you never “hear”. That’s it plan and simple, if you are not asking and probing you may never get a chance to respond to the objection or concern your customer is harboring in their mind because they will not ask it. And, if this occurs, the process will most certainly not move forward because any and all objections must be met head on with good communications skills. When you do meet them properly then the objection usually will be put aside and clears the way in moving toward your target, which is closing.
When objections stop, the deal is most likely winding down. So objections are a good thing and you must treat them with care and respect if you intend to move in the direction of closing the sale. Utilizing new communications techniques to meander your way through objections encourages you and your customer to continue to move toward continuing the sales process.
There was this fellow who was still a bit green in his selling career and had this dream. In his dream, he was attempting to sell a vehicle to a married couple, and they were such a pleasure to visit with. They thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and demo ride and they agreed to everything he mentioned. They didn’t ask any questions, and they didn’t have any concerns. They even helped him fill out the paperwork. The whole transaction was completed in record time. Two very happy people waved good-bye to him as they drove away leaving him with a check in hand and several qualified leads. What a wonderful dream!
Somehow, I am sure that this guy was not the only one to have this “dream”. Most new salespeople think this is what selling is like. Unfortunately, some salespeople who have been in the business for a while keep looking for that dream to come true.
Imagine a sale with no resistance. Does it happen? Once in a blue moon. Addressing concerns is a normal step in any sale. It is human nature to object, hesitate, stall, or procrastinate when making any decision that will separate you from your money.
Buyers need to feel absolutely confident that what they are replacing their money with will give them all the benefits they want. Buyers also have to be comfortable with the value they are receiving for their hard-earned dollars. I suspect this is true for most of us, so why would we expect any prospective clients to be any different?
Your success rate in sales will increase tremendously when you begin anticipating concerns instead of fearing them. You most likely are basically hearing the same three or four in nearly every selling situation. I spent a few hours thinking about each of those concerns. Why are your future clients going to be saying these things, and what could you do or say to help them get comfortably past these points?
Begin by putting yourself in their position (empathy) then you will begin to discover that most potential clients are expressing concerns because of one basic emotion that was being triggered: fear. Yes, studies show us that prospects are generally enthusiastic when they first begin discussing adding a new vehicle to the family but fear sets in when they arrive are the dealership. What do think the primary fear is? Car salespeople. It’s no wonder when we see what the industry peddles off as customer relationship building (CRB). It is non-existent in most dealerships because most simply don’t get it. It is a new world and Charlie Darwin said it best, “survival of the fittest!” You better be training in the new ways.
Here are the other fear items your prospects are harboring. If you take note of them, you will be better prepared to get them relaxed and begin trusting in you as a professional:
1) They are afraid to make an irreversible decision.
2) They are afraid to make a commitment with their money.
3) They are afraid the product would not live up to their expectations.
4) They are afraid we will take-the-money-and-run; that they’d never be able to reach us again when they had questions about or challenges with the product after they owned it.
The last of these can and will present a wonderful opportunity for you because if you know what it takes to excel at CRM, you know you need to thoroughly explain to the potential customer how you are different from the maddening crowd of dealerships when it comes to true CRM owner base follow-up. You will never forget them.
Realizing these points, you may wish to begin making some changes in the way you handle, question and council prospects. Step one is to eliminate words from your vocabulary that provoke fear, and replace them with verbal images that bring confidence to your soon-to-be customers. Make sure to discuss products and services in light of the “hot buttons” that were hopefully discovered during the interview and qualification steps, and this will help reduce the number of concerns you had previously been receiving.
Another strategy that works is to bring up concerns that you know the prospective clients are likely to have and address them before they can become stalls. For example, when you get people involved in any high-dollar product, it’s likely that you’ll hear, “It costs too much” as a concern. By learning not to get flustered, but to be prepared instead, you control the concern. You don’t let it control the sale.
By the way, the answer to that concern is to focus on the difference, not on the whole amount. You do this by asking, “Today, most things do cost a bit more. How much too much do you feel it is?” Once you have that amount, you know how much they really expected to invest and can build the value in the difference.
For those salespeople who still have a certain amount of fear when they hear a concern, let me explain what concerns really are. Besides being a normal part of the selling sequence, objections or concerns are defense mechanisms. They are ways for the buyer to tell you that you are moving too fast. There are ways the buyer tells you they need more information before they can feel confident about going ahead with the investment.
Always remember, the potential client is not personally objecting to you. They are objecting to some aspect of the product or service that they are not yet comfortable with.
In order to be proficient at closing you first have to be very proficient and well versed in objection handling. This means you have to be in possession of good listening skills and good questioning skills because these are the two most significant areas of talent that will propel your closing ratios.
How are your skills in these two areas? If you answered with a “Well, I think they are okay” or, “I could always polish up on those”, then go ahead and spend some quality time reacquainting yourself with these practices. How do you do it? There are a couple of ways; find a mentor who is good at it and speak with them on the matter, then role play the elements with that person or manager or a peer. Practice here before you practice on your customers. If you would like more detail on handling of objections send me an e-mail request and I will get one to you. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression!
Chuck Barker has been CEO of his two companies, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC, for the last 24 years, both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with Harris Corporation (16,000 employees) one of Fortune Magazine’s largest companies to the automobile industry where he has performed all executive positions. His companies specialize in growing businesses, dealerships and people. He delivers unparalleled sales & service development programs, management leadership workshop programs and dealer/principal business & profit improvement ideas for automobile dealerships. He has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled The Dealership Success Guide.