Overcoming Sales Objections and Stalls

Let's face the facts. If you're involved in sales, objections and stalls are simply a fact of life. While you can't avoid these inherent frustrations altogether, you definitely have options on how to deal with them. And, it's truly how you deal with them that will ultimately determine your success as a salesperson.

Objections and stalls can undeniably throw you off of your course and make you want to pack up and head home. However, it's solely up to you to view them either as permanent stops or detours on the road to making a sale.

What does an objection or stall mean to you? Sure, you can look at it as your cue to find a new prospect, or if you delve a little deeper, you might just discover that the person who you're trying to sell to is attempting to gain more information, more confidence in what you're offering, or more selling points. This is often the case when they have to present what you're offering to other people involved in the decision making process.

In other words, their objection might be their way of asking you to better explain what makes you different and why doing business with you will equate to some sort of improvement in their situation.

By changing your mindset and rethinking objections and stalls as simply opportunities to present more information, you definitely up your chances of winning a job. Here are some basic strategies for handling these situations:

Take a Deep Breathe
Getting thrown off and discouraged by objections is often a knee-jerk reaction by many salespeople. It's understandable and perfectly natural. We're all taught as children to take "no" as an answer and to not nag and continue to ask for what we want again and again. Well, salespeople have to learn how to quiet those old tapes playing in their heads. A "no" might be a veiled request for more information, and if you immediately retreat, you will be shutting the door on a potential sale.

Acknowledge Their Hesitancy
You need to demonstrate that you "get" where they're coming when it comes to an objection. By stating that you understand how they feel, you show that you are listening respectfully, not tuning them out, and can actually empathize with their hesitancy.

How can you articulate your sensitivity? Here are a few statements that will help you keep that sales door open:

  1. Mr. Prospect, I understand how you feel.
  2. I understand what you are saying
  3. We have other clients that have felt the same way.

These three statements will go a long way to making your prospect feel more comfortable and engaged with what you're trying to say. Remember, the goal is to maintain rapport and not to alienate or cause anxiety.

Restate Your Value Proposition
Once you've patiently acknowledged and responded to their objection with a benefits statement, you've earned yourself the right to resell. This is the pivotal point and critical moment in dealing with an objection. Don't stop and trail off after your resell statement. You'll only confuse your prospect on what they should do next. Instead, take control of the dialog by asking a question. Word your question accordingly so that you get a positive response or at least will know what the answer will be. With this strategy, you should now have the opportunity to resell features and benefits.

So that's it - a simple roadmap for how to handle and hopefully overcome objections. But what if you're faced with something not as black and white? You weren't given an objection, but you're instead getting the sense that they're just putting off making any decision at all.

These are the folks that are stalling and handling them effectively will also help you to close more business. When dealing with stalls, the first and most important step is to uncover its real reason. Until you know the reality of the situation behind the stall, you cannot possibly overcome it.

In order to find out the true reason for stalling, you must utilize some effective probing. Here are some questions that you should have ready to roll off of your tongue:

"Can you tell me more about …..?"
"How are you currently handling….?"
"What is your feeling about…..?"

By using open-ended questions like these, you will encourage dialogue and eliminate the shut-down that you may encounter when using closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no".

The reality is that there are many valid reasons for prospects to stall. For instance, an accounting firm might stall about making a decision for an office renovation because the decision comes smack in the middle of tax season. Their plate is full, their minds are distracted, and a stall about making a decision is entirely valid.

However, more often stalls beg for clarification. Here are some statements to watch out for:

"I have to think about it."
"I'm not certain. Let me talk about it with …."
"Call me in a few weeks/months."
"Not now/maybe later."

These "classic stall statements provide you with little or no insight into a prospect's "real" situation and require you to probe for more insight. Here's how to respond:

"Can you please clarify what exactly you need to think about?"
"What's going to be different next week, next month?"
"How about you and I speak with (the decision maker) together?"

Are you thinking that these types of responses might be too aggressive? If you remember that your objective is to uncover the reason for the stall, you will clearly see that these questions are essential for finding out the information you need to do your job effectively.

A prospect's stall might be based on the fact that they don't see enough value, or that they're just not really sold yet. By uncovering their need for more information, you put yourself in a better position to make the sale. Remember - you can't lose something that you don't have, and since you haven't yet won the job, you can't be at risk by probing for information.

No one likes to deal with objection and stalls, but they are a very real part of the sales dance. Get used to it, get comfortable with it, and by employing these techniques, you'll find yourself in the driver's seat and winning more jobs than you ever thought you could!

Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy that she launched 20 years ago. Adrian provides real-world, highly practical sales skills training programs and delivers executive level sales strategy consulting. She is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success" and is a highly regarded speaker and consultant. 

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