The Twelve Steps to Successful Telemarketing – Step Ten: Handling Objections

By Kathy Sisk

In previous issues we have covered the twelve steps to successful telemarketing, with the exception of Step Ten, the objection step. Provided you have followed the steps closely, objections will typically occur during your trial close, Step Nine, when you ask for a commitment. An objection during this step is not a rejection; assume objections will surface during some of your presentations. In most cases, an objection means that the prospect needs more information.

Interpreting, Narrowing, and Overcoming Objections: Objections give you an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your prospect – another way to continue selling your products, services, company, and ideas. It is a chance to listen, probe, and understand your prospect’s needs. There should not be any feelings of personal rejection. Your prospect’s objections are not necessarily directed at you, so don’t be defensive or react negatively. More importantly, don’t attack the objection immediately with more selling. This is a time to remain in control and impress your prospects with your persistence and professionalism.

Let’s Review: Early in your presentation, prior to Step Five, when a prospect behaves in a negative way, it is usually the result of a concern they had prior to your contact. If your prospect seems rude during the beginning of your presentation, try to release these barriers. Ask, “What are some of your concerns?” This statement invites dialogue, and your prospect will be more likely to tell you the real issue. If this approach is unsuccessful, conclude your presentation by using the “Easy Close.”

You can always try approaching the prospect at another time. Never close the door permanently. Don’t allow a prospect’s resistance to affect your future prospecting efforts. Instead, continue with a positive attitude. Resistance may indicate that the prospect is not ready at this time, so your best option is to use the easy close technique. This will give you another opportunity in the future.

Whenever you get objections, the following provides you with ways with which you can regain control and effectively close (depending on where you are at within your presentation).

Defuse a Negative Statement: Acknowledging and agreeing with your prospects is one effective way to get on their good side, especially if your prospect is angry or upset. Defusing your prospect’s anger will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. You can defuse many negative situations with statements such as:

“I understand your concerns.”

“I know price is important to you.”

“Of course you need to think it over.”

“I’d be happy to send you information.”

“Thank you for making me aware of that.”

“I appreciate your concerns.”

“I respect that.”

When objections surface during Step Nine, your first step is to interpret what the real issues are. To make this determination, you need to establish precisely what your prospect is really saying. For example, “I’m not interested,” “Call me back in six months,” or “I’m not ready now” are not real objections. The prospect’s disinterest may be superficial and mask unidentified concerns. By determining what the real concerns are, you will be better able to overcome the objections. When receiving objections, here are three questions to answer:

1) Where do you stand with your prospect? Analyzing at what point in the twelve steps the objections arise will help you to know where you stand with your prospect. When using the twelve steps as instructed, objections most likely will surface during the trial close. Therefore, you stand strong with your prospect. In Step Nine, you have completed most of your presentation.

Think about what you have accomplished so far. You established rapport in the first four steps by stating who you are, the company you represent, and your location. You told your prospect how you acquired his or her name, respected his or her time, and stated the purpose for your call. Then, in Step Five you qualified your prospect, established what the prospect’s wants were, and created a need for your products or services. Your prospect confirmed those needs when you restated them in Step Six, and then you fulfilled those needs (by telling the prospect what he or she wanted to hear) in Step Seven, the selling step. In Step Eight, you got a reaction; you gained a positive yes response confirming that you fulfilled the prospect’s needs. Therefore, by the time you entered into the trial close in Step Nine, you were in a strong position. Now you just need to regain control as you have throughout your presentation.

Without the twelve steps, objections usually occur early on, within seconds of your initial presentation. Now where do you stand with your prospect? In an extremely weak position. This is the primary reason for the first four steps. Each step is designed to eliminate your prospect’s resistance before it occurs. In this way your position is stronger when you enter into the trial close. You now have more ammunition to outweigh and overcome your prospect’s objection.

If the objection occurs within the first four steps, you know that your rapport-building process was not effective. To determine what went wrong, you need to analyze during what step the objection occurred.

Remember, approximately 10 percent of your prospects will say “no” to everything, and that is not through any fault of your own; it is a statistical reality. Should you get more than 10 percent resistance early on within your presentation, it is because you are not properly implementing the steps.

Unless you record yourself and evaluate your presentation, it will be difficult to determine what went wrong and where you need to improve. For example, if you get resistance when stating the purpose of the call (Step Four), then you are probably raising your pitch on the word “mind” when you say, “…if you don’t mind.”

If resistance occurs after you have introduced your company name, you are pausing too long instead of quickly going into your fifth function, the landmark or location. You need to say, “…and we’re located (pause).” Be sure to use the word “and” immediately after you state your company name; this will help you not to pause. Pausing at an inappropriate place gives the prospect an opportunity to interrupt your presentation. Interruptions usually end on negative notes rather than positive ones.

When objections occur during the trial close (Step Nine), you have greater confidence in overcoming them, since by this point you have built rapport and credibility, and you stand firm with your prospect.

An objection occurring in Step Nine indicates that your prospect needs additional information. This information should have been provided in your selling step. Consider this objection as an opportunity to progress in your selling efforts.

2) Was your prospect listening? You have assurance that your prospect was listening to your ideas when you ask for and receive a positive reaction in Step Eight (“How valuable is this to you?”). Your prospects are not going to readily respond positively unless they were truly listening. Therefore, an objection during the trial close indicates your prospect was listening, and this second question is not the issue.

Should you get a negative response during Step Eight, any one of the following might have occurred:

  • You did not satisfy your prospect’s needs in Step Seven: Selling Features and Benefits.
  • Your prospect wasn’t listening to your ideas during Step Seven. This suggests that your prospect was not impressed.
  • You did not create the need in Step Five, the probing step, and yet you continued with your presentation.

The solution is to ask the right questions and listen to your prospect’s responses during the probing step so when you enter into your selling step you will ensure that you touch the prospect’s hot buttons. Once you have accomplished this, you will be able to encourage a positive response in Step Eight, when you get the prospect’s reaction. This is important, since you cannot move to your next step until this happens.

If you have completed all the steps and you still receive a “no” during the trial close, you’ll need to determine what the real issue is. Consider the following points when beginning to handle objections (Step Ten):

  • Attempt to determine if the objection is the result of a preexisting issue or a misunderstanding of the product’s features and benefits.
  • When you hear an objection, consider it an invitation to provide additional selling points.
  • Draw out your prospect; try to understand his or her needs.

You will find the best approaches in the article, “Six Methods of Handling Objections,” which will appear in the next issue.

3) What is your prospect really telling you? When your position is strong with your prospect and he or she was listening to your ideas, your only alternative is to consider this question. When faced with an objection, you need to interpret the objection. For example, when the objection is about price, your prospect might say, “It’s too much money,” or “I can’t afford it!”

You don’t want to agree with your prospect’s objection, nor do you want to assume it is what the prospect actually means. Agreeing with the objection decreases your opportunity to close. First, interpret the objection by thinking, “There must be a misunderstanding or a misconception about the products or services.”

Second, assess what that misunderstanding or misconception is. If you were to gather all the possible objections you would ever receive, they’d fall into six categories. Using these categories to handle an objection enables you to interpret the objection more clearly and customize your rebuttals to your prospect’s specific needs. The six types of objections are:

  • Money: “Too much money” indicates that there is a misunderstanding; “Not enough money” indicates a misconception of the cost.
  • Time: “Not now, call back” shows there is a condition standing in the way.
  • Information: “Send me information” is a hint to confirm if the prospect is actually interested, whereas “I have to talk it over with my partner” is something you need to qualify to see if it is true.
  • Competition: “I know someone in the business” or “I like ABC Company” indicates a need to better educate the prospect.
  • Customer Service: “I don’t like salespeople” or “I never do business over the telephone” suggests that the prospect has had a bad situation or experience.
  • Silence or Guttural Utterances: “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know,” “Don’t care,” or “Maybe” means you’re losing control. You need to break through undetermined barriers, take control of the situation, and get the prospect to open up.

Once you have categorized and interpreted your prospect’s objections, the next step is narrowing down the real issues and beginning to overcome or outweigh the objections. Your interpretation enables you to select the most effective objection-handling method.

Kathy Sisk is founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc., located in California. Kathy is a trainer and consultant, contributing thirty-five years of expertise to the telemarketing, sales, and customer service industries.

[Read more of the series “The 12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing”: the prior article or next article.]

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2013]

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