Do you feel that objection handling as an art is one essential skill that few salespeople truly master? As a cubrep, the process that got drummed into me involved five steps:
Empathy, Explore, Confirm, Response, Action
One of the reasons that I found it to work so well, is that it stops you from entering the awful world of “yeah, but…” It impressed upon me that there are three vital steps that come ahead of the traditionally instantly blurted counter-argument.
At the time I first came across this technique, I knew a girl who’s job was to deal with extremely disruptive children when faced with educational rejection. When I explained to her the new wonderful methodology I’d learned, she reached for a dusty old academic text from her bookshelf, and showed me the exact same process recommended as part of her own training.
Over a coffee-break the other day, I clicked through a link on the Selling Power newsletter that I get sent. Entitled How To Tell Anyone Anything, I was struck by the similarities of their proposed way of reacting to criticism (from either a disgruntled colleague, sub-ordinate or boss):
Paraphrase, Listen, Acknowledge, Negotiate
The first step is considered so powerful as it diffuses tensions and puts you back in control. Start with words such as “It sounds like . . .,” or “I can see that . . . .” The Listen phase hands the floor to your detractor. I suspect that they then often run out of steam or back-down. Acknowledgment does not mean that you accede, more like you Empathise – it “is powerful because it enables the other person to feel understood and respected and puts the conversation on safe ground”. Finally you move towards either accepting their view and plan action to remedy, or you placate by a “switch to “can do” language”.
It is clear that both approaches demonstrate the two crucial elements that I see so many objection handles ignore when I’m on call accompaniment duties:
- resolutely refusing to offer a ‘response’ for as long as possible, preceded by detailed examination of what the objection’s all about, and
- putting the objection truly to bed by having it swept away by either an action to do something about it or agreeing their initial thoughts are irrelevant