Clearing Away the Smokescreen
Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
– Anne Frank
Anyone who has been selling for even a short time knows that not every buyer is eager to meet with you and hear your offer. Do you ever get hit by any of the following smokescreens:
- “We’re not interested…”
- “I am really busy; I don’t have the time.”
- “We’re happy with who we’re with…”
- “We don’t need it…”
- “We have a spending freeze…”
- “We’re all set…”
A large percentage of your phone calls will result in some type of pushback or objection, and at first glance, one might think the above responses are legitimate. A lot of the time these are just smokescreens that they use to get off the phone, but their objections could cause them to actually miss out on the juicy details of how your services could save or make them more money.
How do you respond to these smokescreens? What can you do if they’re not interested or are happy with their current supplier? Over 60 percent of all sales professionals will choose to let the call go, either because they don’t think it’s worth the battle, or they lack the courage to take it one step further. Yet you could have the more cost-effective solution for that prospective client. She may simply need some nudging and some encouragement to have a more open mind and take a closer look.
Clearing the Air to Land the Sale
Here is a four-step process you can take to handle any smokescreen:
- Disarm them. When a smokescreen is tossed your way, the best thing you can do is remain calm and empathize. This will disarm your prospective client faster than anything else. Simply say, “I understand” or “I can appreciate that” or “That’s fair.”
- Ask a thought-provoking question. Ask a question that will cause the client to reconsider his current situation and prompt him to have an open mind. Before you begin the call, write out a list of possible questions. They might start like this:
- “How are you currently handling…?”
- “Have you considered the value of…?”
- “Are you familiar with…?”
Remember: The questions should have lots of punch and intrigue; they should make the prospective client think, “Hmmm, I’m not familiar with that…” or “How does that work?” or “That’s interesting.”
- Introduce your unique, innovative solution. Here’s where you put on your selling shoes. Introduce at least one compelling benefit or advantage of your offer. The more unique and intriguing it is, the better. It should sound something like this:
- “Our new software solutions can reduce shipping costs and improve profitability. Most of our clients are seeing an ROI in three to four months.”
- “Our new sterling devices have reduced surgery time and patient complaints by 50 percent for Dr. Frank Taylor at Princeton Hospital.”
- Give a call to action. After you’ve provided a substantive response to the client’s smokescreen, suggest a meeting date and time. Go directly from your response to a suggested meeting time; don’t miss a beat. Say, “How does your schedule look late next week?” and then don’t say another word. Wait for them to respond. You’ll be tempted to say something if the client doesn’t respond immediately, but it’s important to let him or her speak first.
Pushing too hard can sometimes backfire and make it more difficult to get in the door next time. Giving someone space now can pay off huge dividends down the road. Even if a prospective client is happy with their supplier or not interested, meet anyway. Things have a way of changing once you actually sit down. Buyers often have a more open mind and give you more consideration once they meet you face to face.
Are you ready to clear the fog? If so then consider getting an outside of the box view. Don’t risk missing another potential client with so many great resources available that can help you overcome this roadblock.
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Excerpt taken from Systematic Selling, by John Naples.