Another “Birth of a Salesman” excerpt – CHAPTER 5 – OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS

Chapter 5:
Overcoming objections is like a Presidential debate; all eyes are on you
and if you fail to address every issue on the table, you lose. This, I’m sure, is the
chapter everyone has been waiting for, right? This is where I dispel the myths
surrounding objections and tell you how to plow your way through them.
It’s funny; when I started in sales I actually believed in all these different
types, shapes and sizes of them. You know all of them – you’re heard them,
right? There is “lack of money,” “it’s not in the budget,” “I have to talk to my
wife,” “I have to talk to my partner,” “I’m going out of business,” yada yada
yada. What would you say if I told you that through my Indiana Jones-esque
adventures of cracking open the lost ark of the sales world I finally figured out
there is really only one objection? Yes – one.
It’s true. Want to know what it is? It’s lack of belief. Period. I don’t care
how you slice it; it all boils down to that. Your mission, should you choose to
accept it, is to twist and turn to bring all objections back to that home base. Yes,
I am going to show you how.
Sales is about getting into the shoes of the person across from you,
whether in person or on the line. Like playing cards, you have to make your
moves based on speculation of what the other person is holding, which is
knowledge gleaned from your brief interview.
Don’t get me wrong: the objection of lack of belief will appear in many
different forms like the devil in the Bible. He can pop up from the get-go if you
ask a closed-ended “yes or no” question. He can show up if you try to give a less
than compelling sales pitch. Even the best will face the dark lord. In fact, a call
without an objection is one of the biggest rarities in the world. Those are pure
gift where no sales prowess is involved. Those are the ones that even the weak
links can pick off. If you want to be the best, you have to learn to annihilate the
A lot of salespeople and a lot of customers are afraid of “the close”
because it is too often used as a blunt instrument. Do not bludgeon your
customer over the head. We discussed how to introduce the close with a gentle
subtlety and finesse and, in that vein, overcoming objections and “re-closing” are
similar feats. At this point, you are basically playing that old board game
Operation; the slightest false move one direction or the other will spell disaster.
Be gentle; even soften your voice a little. They do not want to feel like they are
being sold and you have to make it a completely painless, logical next step in the
One common mistake of overcoming is the same of calls in general:
belief that throwing every piece of information you know and hoping, wishing,
praying they will latch on and say “yes” is the way to go. It is far from. Find the
objection, hone in on it and literally, you will need to find, in some cases, five
different ways to illustrate the exact same point until it sinks in. Not every
customer will buy. But if you hammer home that point – the magical one that
illustrates how you cure their weakness – you give yourself the best shot possible.
And that is the only chance you’ve got.
No customer – or person, for that matter – tunes in or listens to things
that do not interest or concern them. You tune out or skip past commercials.
Customers will try to circumvent your flow by saying, “Fine, let’s cut to the
chase; how much is it?” They often have a one track mind and short attention
span on issues that involve opening their wallets. Because of this, the most
important function of your interview is to ascertain the customer’s sensitive spot.
Once you have uncovered something you can do better or something that puts
them in a position of weakness you have your bargaining chip. From there, the
call requires having the patience to wait on mounting your attack until just the
right moment.
The whole call is laying groundwork; we have talked about that. Once
you deliver your closing question, the customer will dictate where you have to go
from there. At this point, it is all about prudent and timely reaction on your part.
In addition, you cannot falter. Another great line in Cocktail: “Never show
surprise; never lose your cool.” You have to make it appear you have anticipated
their every answer and every move.
This is where my two favorite words on a sales call come into play. As I
mentioned in Chapter 2, the words “perfect” and “exactly” can go a long way in
disarming any objection your customer unfurls on you. Think about it this way;
in the back-and-forth game of sales, your customer has probably delivered a lot
of knockdown punches like, “I can’t afford it” that caused the salesperson to
back off. They expect that to work on you as well. Truth be told, if they could
not afford what you were peddling they would not last a day of electricity costs.
They do not believe what you are selling will work for them, which is why they
are trying to get rid of you. You have not inspired them or conjured up any
dreamy potential outcomes for them. Better luck next time.
Here is an example of how to head off a standard objection:
“Yeah, no thanks, I can’t afford it. It’s not in the budget.”
“Exactly, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I can appreciate that your initial reaction
is saying you cannot afford this. Let’s face facts; you already told me that you are
doing something that we discovered does not work as effectively as the option I
presented. That said, how can you afford not to do this? If you believed this
was going to work for you, you would jump all over it. For what specific reason
do you believe this will not work?”
First, you disarm their objection by showing that you anticipated it.
Let’s face it; after a day, week or years of selling, you certainly should and do
anticipate a little pushback, right? You hear most of the same objections so none
should throw you that far off your game. You also have to sidestep the objection
by turning it into something else and using the customer’s own words to do it.
Using their words to show weakness in their current platform and strength in
yours makes it law. They do not believe anything or anyone above their own
ideals, principles and words, and utilization of those things to cement your case
makes it even easier to get the job done.
Furthermore, you have to turn the tides and make the objection about
lack of belief. For, that is what the objection really is. If you believed you would
get a desired outcome, you would spend the money, whatever the cost. That
very principle is why insider trading is illegal!
“Mr./Mrs. Customer, I hear what you’re saying, but earlier you told me,”
is how you begin pretty much any attempt at overcoming an objection. Let’s say
you are selling furniture and they balk at cost. You determined earlier their kids
are going to use it so you once again hammer home your point about the stainresistant
upholstery. Let’s say you are selling advertising and they balk at cost,
saying their current advertising is cheaper. “Certainly, and of course it is, because
look at what you are getting,” and then you outline what they are paying for now,
how it puts them in a position of weakness, and the way your method trumps it.
Once you have acknowledged their objection, put it in its place,
dismissed it and moved forward with your lack of belief question, you have
accomplished the sequence necessary to overcome objections. Then it is time to
“re-close” with another attempt at asking for the sale and ending with a question.
This psychological tug-of-war we call sales is a wobbly balance; it can be
won or lost with the slightest tweak here or there. When you fail to acknowledge
that, you lose. If you fail to view objections as anything more or less than lack of
belief, you lose. When you realize that your customers have all heard it all
before, that is the big lesson to learn in not sounding like everybody else.
No business would turn down customers. No person would turn down
an opportunity to save money in their homes. So why are they turning you
down? It is because they do not believe. Economy schmonomy; now is the
perfect time for a business to establish that they are in this for the long haul.
Being dominant during the hard times is what causes a business to stay the
course. So why is someone tightening their purse strings rather than opening
them for you? It’s called fear.
Overcoming objections is better described as dismantling customer
fears. A lot of people are scared of objections and this is where their call flow
falls apart. A weak salesperson will start throwing gimmicks, freebies and
discounts out there too soon, will respond to a cost objection by trading down to
the cheapest program possible without defending their stance or will just bail out.
The effective salesperson will stand their ground and react based on what they
have learned and what they know. Sales is a formula, a road map and a recipe.
Objections are illusions. Sell past them.
I want to spend more time on the “cost objection” because it seems to
be the one that knocks people out most often. You have to understand that an
objection to cost is rarely an objection to cost. I acknowledge there are some
people who cannot afford a complete overhaul to the way they live or do
business. However, you have to acknowledge that if you are selling something of
value, you have figured out how it can effectively fit in this customer’s life and
you have done a bang-up job of presenting that, it should be difficult to sell you
on why they are sending you packing.
Our gut reaction is often to trade down to something else, but there is a
reason you offered your first pitch first, right? Hopefully you put together that
recommendation because something the customer said triggered that response.
Stick to your guns. Tell them, “Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand your gut
reaction is to question this price. However, the reason I made this
recommendation is this gives you the best chance at winning. This is the best
value for you and gives you the best probability at success. Sure, I could have
given you a less effective program or bundle, but I don’t want you calling me in
two months asking why somebody else is getting better results than you or why
your program doesn’t work. Besides, let’s face it, if you believed this was going
to work out favorably, you’d jump all over it. Why specifically do you not
believe that?”
Any trade down you provide the customer will give them lesser results.
A $1,000 per month advertising program certainly gives the customer a better
probability at return on investment than a $50 per month program. They simply
do not believe they will make their money back, which is why they are reluctant
to make the seemingly larger or riskier purchase. You may or may not have
illustrated how easy it is for them to do so. Either way, you have to do it again.
You have to challenge that lack of belief. You have to ask them for specific
reasons they do not believe they will get that return. Only by doing that will you
oust the “underlying objection.”
The underlying objection is the one the customer is guarding. In
Superman II, a staff member was hiding the President from menacing General
Zod for his own protection. Some probing on Zod’s part revealed the real
President. You have to do the same. Lack of belief is often hiding behind other
disguises like “cost” and “my partner.” Some objections are lurking in the dark
and you must bait and lure them into the light. If you fail to find the “real
objection” you will succumb to their excuses and never close them.
Put the customer more at ease, “Mr./Mrs. Customer – clearly you see
how this program would benefit you and we have gone through how you will
make a return on investment; what could possibly still be holding you back?
Why do you not think this will work for you? I do not feel comfortable moving
forward unless you are completely comfortable. Let’s get all the cards out on the
table. Shoot straight with me – is it price?” Your customer will respect you
more and you will have forced any remaining objections to the surface so you
can overcome them. People buy from people they respect and they respect
people that respect them.
If you immediately back down or trade down, you show you have no
belief in your product or pitch. Why would you offer something only to jettison
it at the first sign of trouble? Be faithful to your pitch and it will be faithful to
you. Just find a million different ways of diverting your customer from their
scheme of getting rid of you.
“Expensive? Actually, if you consider what you are getting for the cost,
it is a phenomenal rate. Let’s look at what you said you are doing right now.
You get X for $X. Now, what I’m talking about gives you X, X and X for $X.
Fact of the matter is, if you truly believed this would work for you, you would do
it. Why don’t you believe this gives you the better outcome?”
“I understand you have a set budget and I do not want you to look at
this as some additional expenditure. This is an investment; like putting a
billboard in front of everyone that is driving down your street and ten others,
just to make sure they know to go to you. I have the people that will make this
worth your while, but how will they find you if they don’t know about you?”
Putting your customer on the defensive is one of the most important
parts of overcoming their objections.
“These customers are ready to buy right now and every month you wait
is a missed opportunity. They will just go to your competitors. What is going to
change between now and a few months from now with your financial situation?
What does waiting another day do to the playing field despite more missed
opportunities flocking to your competition because they can’t find you?”
Customers will tell you to call back later, check back with them in a few
months or follow up after some time has passed. Hogwash, I say. You, as a
sales wizard in the making, must realize this customer is only attempting to
getting rid of you. Do not allow the customer to leave you twisting in the wind.
Get an answer, even if it is not the one you prefer.
Remember in Back to the Future Part II where Marty located a sports
almanac detailing the outcome of every sporting event from 1950 until 2000?
Going back to his time would have resulted in him being able to bet on those
contests and be guaranteed a win every time. That is what the customer wants –
a guaranteed win. We have to get the customer to realize that, while neither we
nor anyone else can provide that guarantee, we provide the next best thing. If
you convince them they will have that probability, they will sign up, however if
you do a poor job, good luck finding a flying DeLorean to help you erase that
missed opportunity of a sales call.
When your customer says they are not a believer, you have to act
dumbfounded. It all continues the game and the show. Truth be told, this act
looks a lot better if you set yourself up for victory with a solid foundation to
your call. Failure to do so will just make you look dumb. Not dumbfounded.
There is a big difference.
Some customers try to keep it general to guard their misgivings from
you. You must bring them around using specifics. Just telling you they are “not
interested” without the courtesy of elaboration is like the great and powerful Oz
hiding in the smoke and mirrors; you must direct all your attention to the
objection hiding behind the curtain.
For example:
“Yeah, I’m just not interested.”
“Wow, really? Honestly, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I have appointments lined
up all day every day to set up programs for customers that work. I am not
comfortable moving forward unless you are; my reputation is done no favors if
this pans out badly for you. That said, what specifically about what we have
discussed are you not interested in?”
Notice how I keep talking about specifics; it is key to obtain specific
reasons from customers why they are not interested so that you can attack each
one individually. Leave no stone unturned and no objection unaddressed.
Failure to tackle an objection will lead to just that: failure. You don’t leave
athletes unguarded in any sport lest you get burned when that pass falls into their
open arms. The customer who just says they are not interested is holding
something back. Call them out.
Let them hang up on you. You knocked them out of the ring and they
did not come back. Something you have to let go of is the fear of losing
something you do not even have. So many salespeople are terrified that a live
customer will walk away from them, so much so they start doing all kinds of acts
of desperation to keep them engaged. When a relationship is over, it’s over. No
amounts of flowers, cards, apologies or sweet gestures can resuscitate a
relationship on its deathbed. This is because one or both of the parties have
thrown in the towel and there is no comeback from that. Showering the
customer with desperate actions to keep him or her on the phone will lead only
to a more embarrassing breakup and loss of dignity. Stay strong, stay defiant and
keep them engaged with legitimate belief in yourself and your product.
Keeping an unhealthy relationship alive while deluding yourself into
thinking it will pan out in a positive fashion is something we as human beings are
far too prone to do. Cut the cord, folks. He or she is not going to marry you.
This customer is not going to buy from you. Most purchasing decisions are
pretty simple; are they in or out? What do they need to see in order to make up
their minds? Every second, minute and day that passes will make them forget
your allegedly award-winning sales presentation, so why run that risk? Get an
answer from the customer by asking the right questions when they object. If you
did an effective presentation and it still does not instill the desire to come over to
your camp, cut bait and let it go.
Acknowledge their need and be sure they understand you can provide
for it, all while making sure they know you are not comfortable moving forward
if they are not comfortable. You have shown you care, you respect their needs
and you will stick with them until the end. Chicken soup when they are sick
doesn’t hurt, either. This is also the trick to a long and healthy, loving marriage
(so I hear; I have never been accused of having a good relationship). Thank me
Always acknowledge their objection, put it in its place, deflect it and ask
another question.
“I don’t need it; I have too much business already.”
“Oh, perfect, and I applaud you for the incredible business decisions
you must have made to put yourself in that desirable situation. However, what I
am offering is the opportunity to pick and choose from a more lucrative client
base. What are some high-end jobs you do that we can send you to pick and
choose from? Is there an additional product line of services you market that we
can attract customers to?”
“If I called you right now as a customer, would you actually turn me
Yes, some customers may have an established client base or product line
so get creative; find something you can do for them they have not already
thought of or are not already putting out there to the public eye. Applaud your
customer for the good fortune they are currently in, but how long can that
pipeline of business last? Statistics say it will turn over within 10 years. What
potential audience or benefit can we put them in front of they are not currently
thinking about? What work can we provide that would not take up any
manpower? Do they have an additional offshoot product line that is not being
marketed? What are some high-end jobs you can give them so they can pick and
choose their work from expensive gigs rather than handling low-end as well?
Find some way for your product or service to fit and suit them. Chances are
there is something you can do for the customer. If not, move on to someone
else and relish the numbers’ game.
The customer may tell you that they do not use what you offer as their
preferred means of satisfying that need. “Exactly, Mr./Mrs. Customer, it sounds
like you have a fantastic plan right now for getting the results you want.
However, why would you discriminate against the type of results I have just
because they came from a different source?” Trust me, no one wants to
discriminate. Using words with emotional connotation can get people into the
“Your current plan of attack has gaps and it is imperative that we
address them immediately so it stops costing you money and customers. Why do
you feel it would harm your business to put yourself where people are looking
for you?”
If a customer says they do not get customers from the radio, the
newspaper, the Internet, or wherever you are trying to put them – of course
they’re not! They do not appear there! Those customers are going to their
competition! You have to point that out. Then hark back to what they said they
were doing and show them they are being one-dimensional relying on one or two
means to lure new clients while you can open up a whole new world of business
for them. If you entice them through any combination of playing to their fear of
loss, greed or ego, you are well on your way to a successful close.
In case you have not noticed, a lot of overcoming objections is hitting
the customer with a question they will have difficulty answering without falling
into your trap. The analogy has been made that you are a prosecuting attorney
and, that said, you are asking questions that are designed to elicit the responses
you desire. You are painting a picture, building a case and putting the finishing
touches on a masterpiece; you are leading the customer to water. You cannot
make them drink but if you get them close enough a lot of them will fall right in.
All through your fact-finding you were asking questions looking for facts and for
the customer to say just enough that you can utilize against them later.
Referencing the customer’s own words, facts and figures make it an open-andshut-
Some people just say, “No, I’m not interested.” Your questions in that
scenario will be designed to force out the reason they are not interested so you
can fit them into some other objection category. Others give you a reason and
your questions are designed to keep the conversation flowing and find your
Some have tried your product before and did not like it. You are not
going to win a former lover back without repenting and promising that this time
will be different. You are also not ever going to win them back if you do not
address the specific concerns that led to the downfall in the first place.
“Yeah, I tried it before and it didn’t work.”
“Certainly, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand completely how you feel.
Obviously you saw the value in this to begin with so where did the situation go
wrong? What specifically did not work about the program?” What did the
customer have? Can you figure out why it did not work the first time? Once
you figure that out, you can show the customer why it did not work at first and
why this time it will not fail. Remember, they saw a benefit to doing this at one
point. You have to reignite that flame to rekindle the romance.
An objection that can rear its head for those selling over the phone is
that the customer does not make transactions over the phone. Again, do not
feed into these things! If somebody called you and said they were going to mail
you a check for a million dollars and just needed your address, would you do that
transaction over the phone? Your pitch may not be as compelling, but if you
instill belief, they will buy.
“I understand your skepticism, Mr./Mrs. Customer and, quite frankly,
neither do I unless I’m doing business with someone reputable. In this case, you
are doing business with a company that has been doing this for quite some time
and has produced thousands of very satisfied customers. I can and will send you
copies of everything along the way and will be your personal contact if you have
any questions on the program. We make many transactions in life like paying
bills, paying taxes and making appointments without ever seeing a face.
Fortunately, this transaction is one that will actually benefit you. Truth be told, if
you believed this was going to work for you in a positive fashion, you would
jump all over it. That said, why don’t you believe in that positive outcome?”
Every objection can be woven back into the only objection: lack of
belief. You have to figure out how to do that with each and every scenario
presented to you. Once you accomplish that, you will be a star.
You will also encounter those who tell you they have to talk to a partner
or spouse. These can ultimately turn out to be dealbreakers, but that does not
mean you abruptly lay down or even accept these at face value. The follow-up
approaches and questions from this point are all designed to push the envelope
as far as you can without upsetting your prey but you cannot and should not rely
on this customer to sell that partner or spouse. Selling is your job, not theirs.
“Sure, sounds good. I need to talk to my partner about it and we’ll get
back to you.”
“Hey, that’s perfect. What is your partner’s name?”
Believe it or not, some partners are a figment of the imagination. Asking
this and seeing how they respond will gauge how real this person is.
“John Doe.”
“Fantastic. However, I don’t want to put you in the awkward position
of having to sell John on all of these benefits. I want to be able to help answer
his questions. How about we get him on the phone with us right now?”
Remember, if you let Decision-Maker #1 “talk” to Decision-Maker #2
about your solution for their business or lifestyle, that conversation is going to go
a little like this: “Hey, Vincent Scott called me today about Scott Marketing.”
“Yeah, we can’t afford it.” “Yeah, that’s what I told him.” Then, you are
history. Do not allow that to happen.
“Well, he’s not available right now. I’ll talk to him tonight and we’ll get
back to you.”
“Perfect. Let’s set up a time tomorrow we can all three sit down to talk.
How is 9 AM?” By asking that question, you keep the timeframe close and you
also try to force all decision makers to be in the same place at the same time.
Again, the partner or spouse objection can lead to a dealbreaker but that does
not mean you sit back and let it steamroll you.
I have never had a rep or manager give me an objection I could not
overcome. Unfortunately, I cannot speak specifically to you or set up a 1-800
objection hotline to address specific ones you may have encountered. (Well,
maybe that will be my next business venture…) However, the best advice I can
give when it comes to overcoming objections is journal your experiences. The
next customer you talk to has no clue about the miscues you made on the call
before. There is no better momentum-building activity than learning from your
Write down what a customer said and did to get you off the phone or
out of their office. Analyze it later and come up with the “what you should have
said” response so you can use it later.
Everyone has been in a squabble with a significant other over
something. Of course, you come up with the best zingers hours later – the
things you wished you had said to have really socked it to them. In the dating
world, it can be a while until you get the next chance to use a zippy comeback
line like that. In the sales world, the next opportunity to dazzle is right around
the corner. Journal what they said and keep reminders of what you want to say
back under these circumstances when history repeats itself.
Keeping these reminders around as triggers to your conversation is a
great idea. When I was a rep I had note cards decorating the framework of my
computer monitor for just such occasions. When I was going into my pitch or
faced with a common objection, I needed only glance at these notes to make my
brain take me where I needed to take the customer. Do it several hundred times
and it becomes second nature. Your current customer has not heard anything
your last customer heard and you cannot build the foundation for a sale without
every vital brick.
There are lots of situations when you see what works and what does not.
The beauty is that you can find many different ways to accomplish the desired
result. You will find your way of doing it. Granted, you may fall flat on your
face with something you thought was a good idea. Even still, that may not mean
it was not a good idea. But if you follow the map, no matter what side roads you
take, you can still reach the intended destination of closing the sale.
You cannot under any circumstances leave the office or get off the
phone with the customer until you know the specific reason why they did not
purchase. In looking back on any individual attempt, can you identify that?
Them just saying, “I’m not interested” or “I hate your company” is not a specific
reason. However, if you go toe to toe with them, address all of their concerns
but figure out that they are flat out afraid it will not pan out and cannot afford to
take the risk, there is your answer. You can show them every which way but
loose how this will work and can minimize the perception of risk, but you are
not going to close them all. However, if you can answer the question of why
specifically they did not purchase, congratulations – you did your job.
This also applies to those sly customers who try to get rid of you with
the “just send me something” or “leave me your information and I’ll call you
when I want to do business” lines. Do not fall for them.
“Absolutely, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I can send you whatever you want to
see. What specifically do you need to see that will help you make your decision?”
You want to make it sound like you are going to comply with their
wishes only to continue your sales flow when they answer your question. They
likely have no idea what they would need to see to guide their decision, meaning
once they stutter and give you some other blowoff nonsense, you accomplished
your goal. You hit them with a response and a question they did not see coming.
In turn, you furthered your cause because they walked directly into your next
question and attempt to close them.
“Well, I just like to see the facts so I can make a decision.”
“Perfect, Mr./Mrs. Customer, take out a pen and paper so I can tell you
what you need and it will be right there in front of you. Let me know when you
are ready.” This disarms the objection; if they need to see facts, perfect – let
them write them down. No better collateral piece than their own scribble in the
comfort of their own hands. “The only thing you need to see is dollar signs and
I am showing them to you. Let’s face it, if you believed this was going to work
you would be all over it. What specifically is holding you back?” Make it about
something else because it always is.
Some customers give you the “send me something” objection right up
front. In fact, there is a whole another objection called the “initial objection”
and it is just what its name implies: the objection a customer gives you in the
beginning to get you off the phone and out of their lives. You want to get the
customer asking you, “OK, let’s cut to the chase. How much does it cost?”
When they ask that, they are interested. No ifs, ands or buts. How you handle
that question is delicate and will determine your success, but if they say this line,
they are interested in what you have to offer.
The customer’s prime directive is to shake you off your game and yours
is to shake them from theirs. Both of you are selling. You are selling yourself
and a good or service. They are selling you as to why they do not need it. The
initial objection is dropped from the start of the race; as soon as you announce
yourself some of them try to knock you out of the park. That is precisely why
when we discussed the introduction we minimized the opportunity for that initial
objection by stating our business and going directly into fact-finding. If you get
the customer talking about their baby, they are less likely to dropkick you.
At the onset, you get past the initial objection by doing the same thing
you do to an objection, just in slightly different fashion. You are still
acknowledging it, putting it in its place and moving on with a question, but you
are doing it from a different vantage point.
“Hi, this is Vincent Scott with Scott Marketing Group. The reason I am
calling is because I have a lot of potential customers looking for what you do and
at present cannot find you. How are you currently marketing your business?”
“I hate your company and everything about you.”
“Sure, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand your gut reaction is to dismiss
me but I’m better than the average bear. The reason it is important we speak is
because right now these people have no choice but to go to your competitors.
How are you currently marketing your business?”
“Look, pal, I don’t have time. Just send me something.”
“Absolutely, I would love to. In order to do so, I just need to know a
little bit about you. From what geographic region can you attract potential
This is a thinly disguised fact-finding question designed solely to get the
customer to open up. Of course, once they tell you where they do business, you
are NOT going to leave and just send something. You are going to continue
your call as if they showed no resistance. Please remember that just because a
customer says they do not have time for you, this does not mean their datebook
will not open up when you say something interesting.
“Look, buddy, let’s cut to the chase. How much does it cost?”
The lesser salesperson will answer with a price. Please, under no
circumstances destroy your presentation by doing such a thing. Do not be
intimidated or feel like you are under pressure because the customer put you on
the spot like this. Anticipate it and meet it with the right response. Some people
are tempted to give a low price they think the customer will accept just because
they just gave you the ultimate buying sign but do not succumb to this
temptation. Even if you do sell something this way, it is not the way to go. You
can turn a bunt into a base hit but that does not mean you square to bunt with
two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded in Game 7 of the World Series.
Answering the cost question is just another part of your flow on the
road to the sale. Acknowledge it, put it in its place and move on to your next
“Great question, Mr./Mrs. Customer, and that’s the beauty of it. The
cost is completely up to you, based on what fits your needs best. What
geographical area do you want to draw customers from?”
You deflected their intent by taking them to the next leg of the call.
Granted, sometimes this works and sometimes it does not. Just remember that
everything is selling and right now you have to sell them on why they should
answer your questions.
“Look, I just want a price.”
You cannot allow yourself to be rushed into a price. A contractor needs
to know if he is building the Sears Tower or a treehouse in someone’s back yard.
Tell your customer that. Shut down their obstacle and get back on your agenda.
“Sure, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I get it, you are completely bottom line
focused and I can appreciate that. But this isn’t just some one size fits all
situation. You don’t just set up the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker
with the exact same program, now do you? I just need to know a couple things
about your business so I give you the program that gives you the best chance at
return on investment. What geographical areas do you want to target?”
Many of you are wondering if I really talk to customers like this and use
these phrases. Yes I do. Never forget that you want to sound like the complete
opposite of everyone else who failed before on a call with this customer. I am
going to be unique to get that unique outcome. Someone once told me that if
you get a customer to laugh you have them hooked, and I would say that is a fair
When the customer tries to signal your death knell at the onset of the
call, do not lose your cool. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Acknowledge, put it in its place, dismiss and move on.
It is imperative that you turn any and all of their negatives into positives.
Acknowledge their objection and weave it into a sentence that turns around the
nature of the factor at play. “Perfect – I understand you get a lot of referral
business; clearly you are doing an amazing job with your clients! We can offer
you an even bigger well for referral business. What geography are you capable of
covering?” By doing this we have acknowledged the objection, overcome it and
transitioned directly into another fact-finding question, meaning we obtained
more information about the business but did not enable the customer to get a
word in edgewise. When I talk about this, especially when I preach a steamroller
of an introduction, I hear the voice of Burgess Meredith’s lovable Mickey from
Rocky advising the champ in his first fight with Apollo, “Don’t let that bastard
Another of my favorite words on a call is “courtesy.” Nearly everything
I do for my customers is “as a courtesy” and this is yet another way of buttering
them up and making them feel special as you guide them to making the decision
you want them to make. I cited earlier that people utilize gimmicks, freebies and
promotions far too early in the call. Lots of people throw them out in the pitch
itself, which is a waste and selling on gimmicks does not work. Besides, if you
tell someone you are giving them a 25% discount on something while you are
pitching it, you make it sound like what you are selling is crap. Why do you have
to discount it? Do people not want it so you are having a fire sale? Remember,
this whole charade is psychology, nothing more.
Discounts are best used as a closing technique after the customer has
already given you some pushback. They are simply icing on the cake; they
should not be and are not the cake mix.
“Well, I just don’t know; I mean, it sounds good but I need to think
about it.”
“Fair enough, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I totally understand. The direction
of your business is a very important thing. As a courtesy to you for making this
decision today, I will even give you a 25% discount that our new preferred
customers can enjoy. I will tack that on to the invoice and we will get you set up
with this program at a reduced rate. To what address should we mail the bill?”
If you have no bullets left in your gun at critical parts of the fight you
have no choice but to run. Pull the discount out as a last resort and make the
customer believe you are doing them a favor because you like them. Come on,
how many times have you been told by someone or some business that you are a
preferred customer? How many “preferred” customers do they have and how
did you get so lucky? Believe me, you are in a tie for first with thousands of
As you have noticed, every response to an objection is designed to move
right back towards the close. The close is that ultimate apex of sales moments;
it’s when you ask the significant other to marry you and you wait those heartwrenching
seconds until you get the answer. Your fate lies in the balance.
It is terrifying for so many because people fear losing it even if they are
nowhere near it. Few things provide the adrenaline rush that “the close” offers;
it probably ranks in the top five emotions or highs in the world. It is like hitting
a home run in baseball; granted it is something that happens frequently but still
gives a thrill and is not always easy to do. Some people are better than others at
it, some improve through hard work and some are not ready for the major
leagues. Possibly the biggest difference is that steroid use has never been linked
to sales prowess.
The reason the close scares so many salespeople is because many have
no idea how to drop that hammer on someone. People plan a lot of elaborate
marriage proposals because they do not get a second chance to make that lasting
impression. The close is no different; it is a delicate part of the operation that, if
bobbled, is worse than the baseball trickling between Buckner’s legs in Game 6
of the 1986 World Series. Game over.
The fix is this: take the fear out of it for both parties. Yes, you are going
to have to take that flying cannonball leap into the deep end of the pool and
throw out the closing question. Yes, you are going to have to put it all on the
line at some point in the call and get the customer to say yes or no. Yes, you are
likely going to have to attempt to close the customer multiple times. But the
more you focus on removing the element of fear for either of you, the better the
chances at having a happy ending. The potential pain removed, the attempt
becomes easier, and the customer is less timid when responding.
Rather than slamming them over the head like a mallet with your close,
you want to make it sound like walking through a dewy meadow hand-in-hand.
You want it to be as gentle as can be, but to the point, which you can achieve
through a yes or no question.
“Mr./Mrs. Customer, based on what you told me, it is clear your
marketing strategy is on the right track, however, I want to put you in a better
position of strength. Having said that, my recommendation for you is our
Superior Package. With the Superior Package you get additional customers
looking at you from segments you are not currently exposed to. As we already
established, an average customer spends $200 with you and I am putting you in
front of 1,000 potential new customers per month. The price of this program is
$1,000 per month meaning your 6th customer out of those 1,000 turns your
profit. How would you like to put down your first installment today?”
That is what is called “assuming the sale” – you laid it all out there and
asked a question that the customer must answer. That was a close. I know I am
making it sound easy but trust me, do that one thousand times in your life and it
gets pretty painless. You want your close to be perceived like it is walking down
the Yellow Brick Road to see the Wizard. A quick, easy, to-the-point and
completely painless close forces the customer to answer. You will still get
objections, but that is where all of the aforementioned strategies come into play.
“No, no, I’m just not able to do it today. That is way too much money.”
“OK, certainly, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand your hesitation.
However, you do understand the concept that you just need six customers in
order to make that return every month, correct?” Getting them to acknowledge
they understand that concept may seem redundant or unnecessary, but is quite
the contrary; it is the lifeblood of what you are trying to accomplish with this line
of questioning.
“Sure, I get that, it’s just that I can’t afford that kind of program right
“Sure, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I completely understand your reaction to the
cost. However, with those 1,000 new customers potentially looking at you, how
do you not get the six customers you need for a return on investment?”
Then you must stop talking. A huge part of working sales is knowing
when to talk and when not to. Kenny Rogers’ classic song “The Gambler”
might as well have been written about selling as you do need to know when to
hold ‘em ,when to fold ‘em; when to walk away and when to run.
“Right, I understand everything, but I just can’t afford to take that kind
of risk right now.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is where you trade down. Not before or
after. The customer acknowledged they understand the return on investment
model. They have also been listening for probably ten or more minutes and are
interested. Price is often not a legitimate excuse, but if you have gone through
this line of questioning, you have determined this customer truly means it.
Another thing you must realize when overcoming objections and
negotiating a sale is that people do not walk into the car dealership to pay sticker
price. People want to feel like they are getting a deal. They want to feel like they
negotiated something or got something out of you that others could not. That
said, you have to be flexible enough to meet some of these customers halfway.
In your mind, you always want to have about three pitches ready for any given
customer. Start with your dominant one while having a competitive one waiting
in the wings and a last resort if worse comes to worst. Do not trade down
beyond that because at that point it would just be desperation.
One thing that scares salespeople about trading down is fear of losing
credibility. In fact, I have pretty much broken down fear as the reason for every
sales miscue. Just like attacking any other breakdown in the sales process,
analyze why you feel that way and how you can avoid losing that credibility.
Sure, you pitched a great program; how do you go to something else without
sounding like a fool? How do you switch gears after getting yourself and your
customer all excited about the benefits of Pitch #1?
“Absolutely, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand you feel you cannot
afford this. It is also clear you are an intelligent business owner as you
understand the concept of how this makes a return for your investment. If you
are not ready to be the big fish in the pond just yet, no worries. Let’s just dip our
toes in the pool first and get you set up on our starter package for new
businesses. We can always upgrade at a later time. This starter package will still
get you exposure to 500 new customers per month, involve you as a featured
business in our mediums, and it is just $500 per month. Now you would only
need three customers before pure profit kicks in. What is the address we should
send the invoice to?”
This accomplishes several things; you have met the customer halfway,
you yielded to their objection while still pitching a respectable program, and you
may also goad them into buying Pitch #1 after all. Who wants to be told they
are not a big fish? Probably not too many people. However, you softened the
blow for them, used information they have provided you and showed them yet
again how they will make their money back and then some. Finally, you did the
most important thing: you ended the statement with a close that was designed to
elicit a response. Whether it is yes or no, you go from there continuing to apply
the same principles. That’s sales.
Some may find sage Kenny Rogers’ greatest song to be “Lady,” and on a
more sentimental evening I might agree. However, I invoked the fable “The
Gambler” earlier, so when do you walk away and when do you run? I have
always operated on a three-strike rule. While there is not an objection I cannot
overcome, the truth of the matter is there does come a point when the realization
hits that this customer is not going to buy. Some of them cannot understand or
see your line of thinking; others have an unrealistic price expectation that would
cause you to sacrifice any value in your program to give them what they think
they want. For some, believe it or not, what you are selling really may not be a
fit. Give these customers’ objections hell; however, realize in the end you may
be better off drumming up some new business elsewhere rather than kicking the
dead horse.
As outlined earlier, you have three pitches in your mind that you are
willing to sell. Stick to those while following the trade down strategy and you
should be all set. If the customer does not buy at that point, the likelihood is
that they never will.
Many statements I have made do center on the fact I believe firmly in
the “one call close.” While you do want to do everything you can to make that
one call close a reality, there are absolutely times when you can accept a callback
scenario. Not every customer can be closed on the first visit, and you have to get
good enough to figure out which customers and which objections are real and
which ones are just allowing you to twist in the wind. I have seen many reps
chase customers for weeks that never panned out. Of course, I have also seen
reps call customers ten or more times resulting in a close. Again, could they have
called nine new customers in that span and closed a couple of them instead of
just getting that one sale? Decisions, decisions.
Remember that one call closes are fun and sexy, but the customer will
never beg you to sign them up. Test the waters to try to force that close on the
first call, but with experience you will learn which ones are worth waiting for.
Before you settle for that callback, make sure they are legitimate and
serious; there is nothing wrong with commanding some reverence for your time
if they expect you to allot more of it to them.
“Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand you are not ready to move forward
right this instant. I would be more than happy to call you back if you are serious.
Let’s face it, we are both extremely busy people; I spend all day every day signing
up customers for programs that work. What time tomorrow should I call you
back so we can get the ball rolling?”
Try to gauge their level of seriousness while keeping the distance
between now and the next call as short as possible.
“You won’t hurt my feelings if this is not really something you are
interested in. I am extremely busy and I know you are too. Are you legitimately
interested or should we just part ways?”
Everything comes back to selling and closing. If you are not going to
close the sale, close the next date and time of contact. You already know that the
longer you allow this customer to dangle the less likely you are going to sell
them. That in mind, keep the date and time of follow up as close to the vest as
you can.
“Look, seriously, I am interested in this, but I absolutely have to review
the budget and figure out how we are going to make it work.”
“Absolutely, Mr./Mrs. Customer, I truly understand and I admire your
devotion to your business. It is inspiring. Definitely review the budget and I’ll
touch base with you later. What time this afternoon should I call you back?”
The customer may deflect you for a day or week, but you do not want to
automatically throw out a futuristic date and time. I have actually seen reps
negotiate scheduling a callback for a week or month down the road when the
customer gave no indication the decision-making process would take that long.
Keep the next call close. Let the customer make it a longer interval if that is
what it takes.
If you have someone on the fence, not ready to commit, or claims to be
too busy to do business with you, acknowledge that their time is valuable but
force the issue. However, do not allow them to ride the fence for too long.
“Mr./Mrs. Customer, I understand your time is valuable and you don’t
think you have the time right now to do this. However, for starters, you and I
both know you would not still be talking to me if you weren’t remotely interested
and didn’t see where this service will be good for you. Second, my time is also
very valuable; I spend all day every day setting up solutions for customers that
work. What time later today should I call you back to iron out the details?”
Force a response; close a callback for that day so they don’t swim too far
“Once we lock this in, your part is finished. I go to work for you.”
Lines like this reinforce your stance and make the decision-making action itself
feel really easy for the customer. Putting them at ease is one of the best ways to
get them to make the decision you want them to make.
After all, you cannot close a sale unless the customer makes the decision
to be closed based on what you have said and done.
If a customer is stringing you along, you cannot lack the gumption to
call them on it. Be respectful, up front and honest, and command respect.
Remember, customers are not going to beg you to make them another
notch on your sales board; you will have to provide the push that edges them
closer to falling from the ledge of inactivity. Never forget that you cannot close
them all; all you can do is push them as close to the edge of the cliff as possible.
Some fall, some will not, but if you did everything you could you will get the
preponderance to fall and you will find success.
People are far too scared of the word “no.” Some take it personally,
some take it to heart, but few realize that “no” is actually your friend. “No” does
not mean “no,” it means you need to press a little farther to determine what
needs to be said to elicit a “yes.” It means, “I need more information.”
“No” is nothing more than a two-letter word; we cannot allow it to
become the single most debilitating word in the English language. The word can
come at the beginning, the middle, the climax or the end, but wherever you hear
it you need only be prepared to rebound and bounce back from each utterance.
And to master the selling game, your handling of the pitch and the close
are what turn a game of chance for some into a surefire checkmate for the best.

Much more at


About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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