In sales, I was taught early on that an objection is a customer’s response to an un-asked question. You will see how that plays out later in this column. It’s really just another example of the importance of questioning skills in the life of a salesperson.

I’ve conducted workshops for in-home sales teams across the country over the last several years and I begin each one with this question: “What objections do you hear consistently?” Without fail, the three objections that come up over and over are “Price is too high"; “We want to get other quotes" and “We need to think it over.” This column will address some strategies for working through these objections. Notice I did not say "strategies for overcoming the objections. I do not believe there are any iron clad tactics to overcome all objections 100% of the time. If I had a strategy to overcome all objections and raise your close rate to 100%, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this column; I’d be at my beach house in Belize counting my money.

Statements vs Questions

To begin with, I’ll ask you this question: Are any of the objections listed above a question? The answer is “no”; all three are statements. Don’t be too quick in answering a statement. You will feel some pressure, and begin thinking you must respond to the statement, but there is a powerful tool you have at your disposal which can come in handy if you use it. That tool is silence. Silence is incredibly uncomfortable for the salesperson and the customer, but the person who is more comfortable with silence has some advantages. I don’t necessarily believe that whoever speaks first loses, but I do believe that if you have two homeowners in front of you and you allow silence to work for you, then their uncomfortableness may cause them to speak to you, or each other. The benefit to you is that a conversation is happening and that is critical to working through objections. If after, hearing the objection and letting a few seconds of silence fill the room, neither homeowner says anything, then it is time to respond and defend your position.

The Big 3

“Price is too high.” The first thing that needs to be done is clarify what that means. High compared to what? What product, what service/installation techniques, are promotions or discounts attached to the offer, what product options are included etc.? Answers to these questions help you determine if moving to a “drop product” is necessary, or if the homeowner has an unrealistic opinion of what this project should cost. Either way, you need more information to begin looking for ways to make this deal attractive for both of you.

“We want to get other quotes.” Once again, information needs to be gathered. Why do they feel the need to get more quotes? Do they lack confidence in you, not see value in your offering, or is it something else? At the very least get some details on how many other quotes they will be getting and how long that process will take. Then plan to follow up with them in a timely manner.

“We need to think it over.” This is fast becoming the #1 objection heard in the home today. To help with this, during the fact-finding portion of the call, ask every homeowner the question “How long have you been considering this project?” Keep the answer to this question in mind if they tell you they want to think it over when you ask them for the sale. Your response could be “Folks, you’ve been thinking about this project for 14 months…you can quit thinking about it and start doing it today.” And then let silence work for you and wait for a response.

I started this column defining an objection as a customer’s response to an un-asked question. The truth of that statement lies in the questions being asked in each of the objection handling strategies.

Asking the right questions earlier in the sales call, prior to asking for the order can help you get past objections when they arise. Questions like - What budget range do you have in mind? What process are you all going through with this project…how many companies are you looking at…timing of that etc.? How long have you been considering this project…when would you like to have it completed by?

If you find yourself dealing with the same objections consistently at the conclusion of your sales calls, begin asking better questions during the call to get the ammunition necessary to work through them when they come up at the end of the call. Yet another reason why a salesperson’s ability to ask questions can be a primary determinant of their success. Happy selling!