The Stall Objection

Before Christmas I was privy to a recruitment interview. In the words of one candidate, here’s a final role play exchange.

Objection:
Can we think about it for a month and let you know early in the New Year?

Response:
At the start of the year, companies put a lot of new strategies in place and you’re flat out trying to achieve them. I don’t want to bother you with this then. Now that we’re winding down for Christmas, it’s a good time to think and talk about it, so if you have any questions, please let me know now.

Before we examine this further, it’s clear to me through the countless interviews I’ve conducted myself, that this flavour of objection is an absolute must with which to assess an interviewee.

This classic hurdle, also known as the Procrastination or Deferred Decision objection, can lead to a salesperson excitedly ramming ever further the reasons for going ahead this very minute down the prospect’s throat.

Such typical kind of “yeah, but” thinking won’t get you far. ‘I don’t care for your dilly-dallying, if you don’t go ahead now you must be a clown’. It’s false urgency.

I had some time so I googled optimal responses for a bit of fun. As a sidenote, searching online for single sentence, quick-fix sales advice is not to be recommended. If you do find tactical tips, then you must be prepared to test thoroughly and run several iterations of failure to fine tune your words.

A top five set of search results emerged. Pity only two came through with anything usable. And neither of them really nailed it.

By way of completion, of those lesser advisors, one was simply a training company ad page with no substance at all, other than endless spiel that they could teach you the path. An eHow post nobly suggests you head off the objection in the first place. Which is a cop out, despite its relevance.

ehow-logo

“Avoid getting the objection by making sure your product solves a problem you have mutually identified with the client.”

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And a chap called Mike Brooks impressively offers seven canned responses.

Unfortunately they veer towards fairly old school me-me-me thinking. His first routine has merit provided you soften any abrupt delivery and understand the stand-off that can ensue. Yet to mainly come across from solely the perspective of the rep alone is a shame. Especially as there are a couple of neat lines around the ‘oh, that’s a no then?’ which could be easily built upon with more care from the buyer’s viewpoint.

salesmba-logo

As for the two with more substance, An Art Siegel describes a conversation as follows;

Customer: I need to give this some thought before I decide.

Salesperson: That makes a lot of sense. Your [insert arena here] is important and you want to make sure the decision you reach is good for your business. What factors are you going to consider as part of your decision?

Unfortunately his site is far, far from the MBA it taglines, but at least this tip’s theme is in the right direction.

candogo-logo

I also came to work attributed to Tom Hopkins. Here’s part of his take.

“Thanks. We appreciate your time. We’ll get back to you” usually means we’re headed out to find the same thing, only a cheaper brand. Answer this by a technique we call questioning down. Ask for permission to ask a few questions before they leave and then run through the positives of your product or service. “We’ve agreed that this meets your quality standards… and it’s the right size … and you’re impressed with our service after the sale policy…” and so on.

He goes on to suggest it usually shrouds investment concerns. Also when facing fierce competition to displace your incumbency, ensure you gain acceptance of your wonderful track record together.

Not quite flawless instruction considering his entertaining body of work (possibly due to editor constraint?) but again it does start to show a process that hearing this objection should trigger.

Interestingly, when I first encountered this myself in an interview, I leant on a Hopkins trick. It was right at the very end. I was ‘closing’. This by the way is an ideal time to use this technique as a recruiter. My future boss claimed he needed to think and get back to me. Then he was “not sure” what about. I duly ran through what Hopkins would term a Ben Franklin Close. Others have described this, but I first got it from his book How To Master The Art Of Selling.

A variant is much like the “questioning down”, testing each specific package element, as described above.

Inexperienced, or inept, salespeople tend push their perceived urgency of signing up, without exploring reasons for a delay from the buyer’s eyes.

Like any objection handling routine, the best process never involves diving in. Take the earlier quoted Art Siegel’s empathy as a guide. When you first open your mouth, how can you get over that it’s normal, acceptable even, to think more?

If you consider it logically, that means they’ll be thinking about it afterwards. So what is it they’ll weigh up when they next do so? How can you uncover this in a way that isn’t pushy?

Then you can drill down and get the specifics out in the open, to the benefit of all parties. For those that insist on forms of words that have worked in the field, you can start to isolate areas with questions like these.

What do you hope will have happened between now and then?

What is it you want to mull over?

What’s the one main detail you’d like to see cleared up that otherwise would let you start now?

You should also adopt a way of running through each aspect of your proposal and checking how it hangs.

As can be inferred from all the web helpers listed, wanting more time to think and get back to you alone is rarely the genuine cause of delay. As the aforementioned Mike Brooks states, it’s a smokescreen. It masks a different concern. Your first job is to get to that true objection.

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