The Vital Question: Is it an Obstacle or an Opportunity?

Robert Terson

Things happen in life; we call them events. You can line up ten different people and ask for their take on a particular event, and you’re going to get ten different reactions, which proves that Shakespeare was right when he said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In other words, my friends, it is never the event itself that matters; it is how you interpret the event that matters, how you view the event from your own personal, filtered perspective.

For example, when you get an objection from a prospect, is it an obstacle or an opportunity? For too many of you, it’s an overpowering obstacle; for the fortunate among you, it’s an opportunity to take the prospect’s own energy and use it to point out the folly of how he’s viewing the situation. In Selling Fearlessly I said:

My father loved to talk about the subtleties of selling. As a child I looked up to him as a selling god and hungered to soak up his wisdom; I still was listening attentively at 66 when he died. It was like being Michael Corleone with the Don as my consigliore. He sold insurance, sewing machines, garbage disposals, cookware, wigs and other hair goods, and advertising. He was a warhorse and expert on the intricacies of selling.

“The man who gives you objections is not tough to sell,” my father would say; “you can do a lot with that guy. The one who doesn’t object, who sits there silently like a bump on a log, that’s the guy you’re gonna have trouble with. And the guy who tells you, ‘Hey, you’ve got the greatest thing since sliced bread, I love it, I’ve never seen anything so terrific in my entire life…but I just don’t want it,’ and won’t tell you why, that guy you can forget about altogether, because you’re completely dead in the water with him.”

Indeed. Objections are buying signals: the prospect who objects is displaying interest, which you can deftly rebut to your advantage—a selling-Ju-Jitsu move. He’s helping you when he throws his objections at you.

And this:

The key to objections is remaining confident, poised, and calm; not panicky, ready to cut your wrists because, oh my, he challenged you. The key to being confident, poised, and calm is your ability to refute any objection hurled at you, with a solid commonsense rebuttal. You internally jump for joy when you encounter a familiar objection—and after a while they’ll all be familiar.

I once had a Q&A session with a group of young salespeople who sell products such as planners to schools. The objection of price came up; they wanted to know how I would handle this objection. When I started asking questions, one of them said he encountered the price objection in eight out of ten presentations. I thought, You’re encountering the same objection eight out of ten times and you haven’t taken the necessary action to devise a method to neutralize it? Why, for God’s sake!? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.

I told him that if I encountered the same objection eight out of ten times, I’d devise a way to preempt the objection, neutralize it, in my presentation. Why wait for it to come up in the form of an objection when you know you’re going to hear it? I then role-played with them, handling the price objection. It wasn’t just the words I gave them; I also let them know how important a fearless attitude and tone were in delivering the words. I talked to them about the opportunity the price objection presented to enable the sale. I challenged them as to who was selling whom!

Later that day I got an email from the sales manager, who let me know how much the session had influenced a sale made by one of the participants:

Just got off the phone with [Name of Salesperson]. His last appointment of the day tried to sell HIM on why they didn’t have money for planners (good thing he was amped up after talking with Bob this morning!). Guess what? [Name of Salesperson] got upset.

[He] went right at that principal and challenged her with these statements and questions:

1. “I don’t understand why when I come in here to talk to you about helping your kids and increasing student performance and you want to ONLY talk about money. Why aren’t you asking questions about how we can get kids to plan more effectively and be more organized?” 

2. “Are you the business manager or the principal? We should be talking about how to help kids, not how to get rid of a product that increases student performance. I understand there are budget issues, but we have got to talk about more than that.”

3. “Think about this a second. A cup of coffee that many kids in this high school buy every day and drink in 15 minutes (and has zero benefit to the kid) costs more than this planner that lasts all year long and can help a kid get more organized and get better grades. What are we really talking about here?” 

He wasn’t going to let that principal sell him.

He walked away with a planner order for the entire school (only 9th grade got planners last year).

We have got to challenge these people. We can’t be SOLD any more on why they can’t buy or why they don’t have money. THEY HAVE MONEY….They just don’t spend it with us. We have got to change that. [Name of Salesperson] did. You can too.

This salesperson turned an obstacle into an opportunity. You can do the same thing, if you’ll only start “seeing” opportunities instead of obstacles.

 

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