No one wants so hear an objection from a buyer. Sellers would prefer smooth sailing from open to close.
But unspoken objections are the ones that are left unanswered. When sales stall out, it’s often because the real objection is smoldering beneath the surface. Better to hear it and respond to it! But how?
Here’s a surefire way to make sure you get the real objection and respond to it effectively. This five-step process is research-based, field-tested, and highly effective.
5 steps for invalidating objections:
- Validate the person, not the objection. Simply thank the buyer for sharing what they’ve just told you. Make it okay for them to share more so they won’t hold back. A straightforward and sincere “Thank you for sharing that with me” is disarming and validating.
- Clarify the objection. Repeat back what you heard. This will prompt a correction from the buyer if one is needed. Sometimes, hearing their objection replayed causes them to backtrack. This will also help you focus narrowly on this objection instead of magnifying it with similar objections you’ve heard in the past.
- Probe to make sure you’re hearing the real (and only) objection. There’s only one way to do this. Don’t try to get tricky or do something extra here. The purpose of this step is to find out whether or not this is a real objection. You can’t do that unless you state the opposite. It doesn’t matter at this point whether or not you can provide the opposite.
State it anyway, like this “If you didn’t feel our price was too high, would you then proceed with this solution?” This does not mean you’re going to reduce the price! It means that you’re going to find out whether or not price is the true and only barrier. Notice the addition of the word “feel.” Most objections are subjective and not factual. Treat them that way.
- Invalidate the objection. In this step, you’ll provide the response that you normally do. You’ll offer additional information or refute the buyer’s misperceptions. You’ll do this without being defensive, snarky, or oblique.
- Shift the conversation back to value. Once you’ve shown why the objection isn’t accurate, you’ll take the conversation back to what the buyer values. Whatever their most urgent and pressing need is, you’ll focus on that and how you can help. This is more important to them than the objection they offered, so help them see it that way.
If you’d like to learn more about handling buyer objections, read about the right attitude and the wrong approaches we’ve examined in previous CONNECT2Sell Blog posts. Or check out these interviews with Tom Hopkins or Mary Ann Wihbey Davis.
How Are Critical Thinking Skills Useful in Responding to Objections?
Each of those 5 steps requires mental agility and critical thinking skills. The first two steps depend on empathy and careful listening so you don’t seem scripted, parrot-like, or insincere. The third step takes some practice and is easier if you sharpen your focus to zero in on the opposite (not something tangential, not a fix, and not leaping ahead to what you’ll say in step four).
Of course, steps four and five are easier, too, if you’re thinking logically and connecting the dots. When it comes to objections, you may also have to reel in your buyer if they’re not thinking rationally. Clear-headed, highly focused thinking triumphs in this scenario.
In sales, objections are also much easier to handle if you anticipate them. Without being defensive or judgmental, you can explain the invalidity of a buyer’s objection before they voice it. You can defuse it by weaving it into your presentation.
Ultimately, to invalidate an objection, you'll want to listen well and empathize. Model the sort of response you'd like to get in return. Have an open, productive dialogue. You're not in a competition. It's a collaboration, and that requires give-and-take dynamics.
Why Is It Important to Manage Emotions When Responding to Objections?
You'll also be more persuasive if you manage your emotional response to others' objections and questions. It's hard for people to take you seriously if it appears that you are rigid, dogmatic, or unwilling to hear and consider their perspective.
This doesn’t mean that you have to strip out all emotional expression. It only means that you won’t let your emotions become a runaway freight train that derails the sale.
At high-pressure points in the sales process, including responding to objections, your adrenaline may surge. This is a natural physiological response to fear or stress. When your adrenal glands kick in, they divert blood from your vital organs to your arms and legs. This prepares you for a “fight or flight” response. That’s why you want to flee the scene of an objection or dig in for a battle. Your body is telling you that those are the appropriate responses.
One of the places that doesn’t have all the blood it needs is your brain. Your thinking capacity is lower when your adrenaline is higher. To maintain your composure and avoid over-reacting in a way that derails the sale, take a few deep breaths and let your adrenaline level return to normal. Use the five-step objection process to buy time before you get to step four.
Then, once you’ve moved through the fight-or-flight mode, you can access your critical thinking skills and use logic to balance any emotion you choose for your response.
Buyers respect a well-reasoned and logical response. They know objections are unwelcome and can be a source of conflict. It’s not comfortable for them either. That’s why step one of the five-step process is important. It makes this touchy subject okay. Your continued response, so long as it doesn’t get too heated or emotionally charged, will also reassure them that this is input you value and will handle with aplomb.
Next Steps in Using Critical Thinking Skills for Sales Success
This is part 12 in the series of posts about why and how to build critical thinking skills you can use to excel in selling. Be sure to bookmark the CONNECT2Sell Blog or subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you won’t miss these posts. Each one offers additional ways to build your mental might. If you want to go back and catch up on the ones you’ve missed, just click on this link.