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Have you ever landed a sale with no objections? I mean, not one “no”—or even an “I’m uncomfortable with this or that?” That’s not selling; that’s just taking an order. You might as well ask, “Do you want fries with that?” Objections are a critical part of your sales process. Objections mean your customer is interested. Hooray!

The problem is many salespeople cower when they hear no. They haven’t been coached on methods to handle the No’s.

So here’s Four Techniques You Can Use Right Away

#1: Listen fully before you respond. Don’t become defensive. I am always amused at salespeople who apologize or criticize customers when they disagree. Breathe. Let the customer finish their train of thought. Now ask yourself: is this a deal killer? Many objections are valid—the customer just needs more information. Some test you to gauge if you will answer their concerns truthfully.

When I hear an objection in the sales process, I listen fully. I validate the concern by saying “I can absolutely see why you’d feel that way,” or “That’s a valid concern.” I may even state their objection more strongly. “You certainly don’t want to invest in a product that doesn’t work for you. It sounds like you have enough on your plate.” Then I wait for agreement. When I hear it, I’ll confirm: “This is good. We’re on the same page.”

You can’t bring someone to your side of reasoning if you won’t first move to theirs! Now, you can share more information, ideas, and an awesome rebuttal.

#2: Answer a question with a question. Listen fully and clarify the customer’s “no” with a question. This is an extremely effective way to reduce ambiguity—just be careful not to overuse this technique. Here’s an example of how a salesperson at a staffing agency used this technique:

Buyer: Why don’t you have a money-back guarantee?
Seller: Have you had problems before?
Buyer: Yes. Last month we brought in an Executive Assistant and in less than two weeks we knew she wouldn’t work out.
Seller: Do you have any other concerns?
Buyer: Yes. I want to make certain you’re vetting your employees appropriately.

Instead of getting defensive about the lack of guarantee, the seller tried to identify the real issue, or the root cause of his concerns. Once you know the customer’s real issues, you can address them.

#3: Remember that questions are often objections in disguise. One of my business school students worked for an aircraft-part manufacturer attempting to close a major deal with the government. The customer asked, “How much testing did you do?”

My student was taught to ask himself: What’s the real concern here? What’s the ‘no’ or the barrier underneath the question? By doing so, he discovered that what the customer was really asking was: Is this model safe? Do we need to launch additional testing before bringing it to market?

Again, think before you act. No never means no. Which means you should never bulldoze your way through with a rebuttal. Instead: listen, analyze, and respond to the concerns the customers express—and the concerns they may not even know to express.

#4: Know when to isolate a “no.” You’ve had it happen before: Customers that rattle off question after question, concern after concern. It sounds like an endless sea of “no’s.” Don’t give up. Instead, ask a question that isolates the customer’s concern and listen carefully for the response.

A hotel company who books large events and weddings was working with a very upscale client. One of their top salespeople, Natasha, had answered about 10 questions when the customer asked, “Do you allow pets?”

Instead of answering yes or no, she isolated the concern by asking, “Would that be important to you in your decision to secure a venue?”

The customer thought a moment and said it would be nice, but not essential.

Some questions aren’t a “no” at all—you just need to isolate the deal breakers from the chatter.

Getting thorough the “no’s” in your life takes courage. But keep in mind: the word “courage” originates from the root “cor”—the Latin word for heart. When you care enough about your product, your customers, and yourself, your heart will outweigh your fear.

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