Getting The Edge In Professional Selling
Terence A. Hockenhull

THERE IS A tenet of selling that states that objections are a good thing because they show the client is interested in the product. Overcome the objection and it is only a short step to closing the sale! From my perspective, this seems like an unduly difficult way to approach the sale; explain the product, let the client object and then try to overcome the objection. Surely it would be better not to face the objection in the first place.

So why do objections occur? Well, perhaps the most common reason of all is that the salesperson is offering a product that the customer doesn’t want to buy. And the reason they don’t want to buy is because the product doesn’t meet their needs. Let’s have a look at this in a little more detail. Perhaps this will allow salespeople to apply strategies to avoid the objection in the first place.

Some year ago, I did some work with Electrolux visiting homes with a group of salespeople to watch them sell their products. I watched one young man deliver a flawless presentation about the latest model of floor-polisher. Little wonder that the customer objected; there was a nearly new floor-polisher leaning against the wall. This example is extreme, however, — consider that in many cases, clients object to a purchase simply because they already have the proffered item and see no reason to change.

Another reason for objections is that clients often express willingness to purchase an item right up to the point where price is mentioned. Then they object because they realize that there are other priorities. For example, I want to refurbish and redecorate my bathroom. However, I also want to improve the air-conditioning in my sala. Prioritizing one project will necessarily put the other project on hold until additional funds become available. This, however, doesn’t stop the customer from showing interest and enthusiasm; it just puts the brakes on when asked to pay for the product!

A common objection raised by client is, “It’s not worth it.” This can be a tricky objection to deal with as it can have two completely different and contrasting meanings. The price tag on designer sunglasses sold by a well-established, prestigious brand might deter one client from buying. Looking at the plastic or metal frames, tinted lenses, and swanky case may lead to an assessment that price is all about the brand and not about the construction or materials. If a pair of quality sunglasses from a lesser known retailer offers the same quality, “It’s not worth it” may be quick to follow. But understand also that another customer who is purchasing for brand name and prestige will not be raising the same objection.

Consider that a customer may be saying “It’s not worth it” not because he believes the item to be over priced, but rather because he just doesn’t need it that badly. On my old Nissan Sentra, the light on the dashboard illuminating the odometer burned out and the cost to have the dashboard disassembled to replace the bulb was P8,000. Really? Just not worth it! I’ll read my mileage during the daytime and save money!

The objections detailed above are the most common ones. Think about it; all are easily avoided by taking the time to find out what a customer wants before offering a solution.

Terence A. Hockenhull is a long-term resident of the Philippines. He is an accomplished sales consultant who currently holds an executive sales position with an Italian geotechnical company.