The basic communication model includes a sender, a receiver, a message and a situation. But things are really much more complicated than that. Every sender has a particular background, specific values, abilities and all sorts of other influencers on the message they send. And sometimes that message comes out wrong. Likewise, the receiver’s various components influence how the sender’s message is interpreted. None of this even takes into consideration the environmental noise that complicates text-messaging and tweeting. It’s no small wonder that people communicate effectively with each other at all; that a seller can successfully rebut a potential buyer’s objections is even more difficult to fathom.
The good news is that “accsellerating” your sales doesn’t mean you have to mire yourself in communication complexities. The following are ideas intended to help you better communicate with buyers:
1. Intrinsic Extrinsic Congruity
Yep, because I like to be obscure. While speaking with one motorcycle dealership sales manager, I asked him which motorcycle he rode. “Oh, I don’t ride motorcycles,” he replied. “They’re overpriced and dangerous.” Yikes! Put more simply, if you want to be convincing you have to be convinced.
2. Understand the Power of Persuasive Psychology
Ellen Langer, a tenured professor of psychology at Harvard, has accomplished decades of fascinating work studying why people act as they do (often without thinking). In one of her most-cited studies, called “The Copy Machine,” Langer asked people to either “cut” in line at a copy machine on campus or interrupt a person who already was making copies. As reported by Philips Hilts in his New York Times article Scientist at Work: Ellen Langer; A Scholar of the Absent Mind, he describes the experiment.
When an individual would attempt to make copies, one of Langer’s research assistants would approach the person and ask something such as, “May I use the copy machine, because I’m in a major rush?” 95 percent of the time, the person allowed the research assistant to make copies.
In the next phase of the experiment, the research assistants who interrupted asked only, “May I use the copy machine?” This resulted in only a 60 percent successful interruption rate. In the experiment’s third and final phase, members of Langer’s staff approached the unwitting copy-machine user and inquired, “May I use the copy machine, because I have to make some copies?” What was the result of this couldn’t-be-less-compelling reason? Well, 93 percent of the intruding research assistants were allowed to “cut” and make their copies.
To convince someone to acquiesce to your request, simply give them a reason. And, as evidenced by the third phase of Langer’s copy-machine research, that reason doesn’t even have to be a good one. You, on the other hand, have great reasons why buyers should take your advice. So tell them! The other compelling piece of Langer’s research is use of the word “because.” What does a 4-year-old child incessantly ask? “Why?” After entertaining hundreds of these inquiries, and trying to reasonably answer them to the best of their ability, frustrated parents almost always resort to a one-word answer: “Because.” Psychologists suggest that the use of this single term is so powerfully ingrained in our psyche that, even as adults, when we hear that word, whatever reason follows it is a satisfactory one. So when you’re explaining to your buyer why acting now will benefit him, be sure to incorporate the word “because.” Why? Because it will improve your chances.
3. Ask Permission
Another language suggestion useful for rebutting objections is the incorporation of permission questions. These can be rhetorical or actual questions; either way, they soften your response, give you time to think and usually are greeted in the affirmative. These types of questions include:
• May I ask you a question?
• May I speak candidly?
• May I make a recommendation?
Compare: “I’ll call you on the 12th …” with “Is it OK to call you on the 12th?”
4. Use Provocative Questions
The real work of negotiating an objection curve is done prior to taking the curve. As the driver, you must position your vehicle, mentally establish the “line” you are going to take, and then decide when to make your move into the turn. Rebutting objections requires a similar process. The more information you have, and the more positive image the buyer has of you, the better. So, how do acquire more information and become more interesting? Try asking provocative questions: What’s different about your business now versus five years ago?
Do you consider this to be a positive trend or a negative trend?
What’s different about your financial perspective now compared to five years ago? (Note the use of “perspective” over “condition”).
Questions like these will furnish you with insight other sales professionals won’t have. And because they aren’t the typical “What’s keeping you up at night?” inquiries, they will make you more compelling to your buyer. Differentiation is crucial.
5. Use Echoing
One of my favorite techniques is called echoing. This is when you take the final or last couple of words your buyer says, and repeat them with an up inflection to form a question. Then, the power of a pregnant pause elicits more information from the buyer.
Prospect: “I want to make sure I get a good deal,”
You: “Good deal?”
Prospect: “Well, yeah, I want to be treated well.”
You: “Treated well?”
Prospect: “Sure. I know cheapest isn’t always the best; I just know we don’t want to overpay. But I also know you guys bring a lot to the table. We have to be taken care of; that’s what is most important.”
You said four words and this buyer is talking himself right out of a price objection! Often, listening is the best tactic when it comes to handling objections, and the echo effect can help.
6. Reduce Your Use of Absolutes
When you use such terms as “every,” “all” and “most,” you are making an absolute statement:
• Every credit union requires you to have a checking account and a savings account.
• All consulting firms bill in six-minute increments.
• Most salespeople are unethical.
As you read those statements, you probably squawked, “That’s not true!” That’s exactly how your prospective customer will respond, too. Given the different types of buyers out there, it’s entirely possible that you might encounter an analytical type waiting to trip you up with a misstatement, often caused by the inaccurate use of an absolute. So avoid this trap by incorporating fewer absolutes into your presentation style. Don’t stop speaking with authority and conviction; just start using more words like “many,” “often” and “some”.
7. Leverage Emotion through Ingratiation
Remember, logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act. The trick is making your prospective buyer feel emotion. The clichéd example involves a waiter in a fine restaurant. A guest orders the salmon, to which the waiter immediately confirms that guest’s good judgment with an “excellent selection” comment. Now, you and I both know that he is more than likely saying the same thing to every person in the restaurant that evening, regardless of what each individual orders. Yet, the waiter’s behavior elicits a very human response. The moment he says, “Excellent selection,” somewhere deep inside, that dinner guest smiles, as his inner voice confirms, it is a great selection.
As humans, we love to receive compliments, an act psychologists often refer to as ingratiation. Because we like to be complimented, we can’t help but feel warmly about the person who is paying the compliment, so when your buyer raises an objection based on price, need, or timing, you can now leverage the principle of ingratiation by responding, “Great point!” or “Terrific question!” or “Now, that is a first-rate insight.” This accomplishes two things for you: First, your buyer will agree with you (either inwardly or outwardly) and feel good about the compliment. Second, such comments will enable you to stay in control of the conversation and give you time to think ahead. Neurons in your brain travel at an estimated 250 miles per hour, so while you’re complimenting your buyer, you’re also allowing yourself time to build a better sales response.
Leverage these seven communication tactics in your objection responses and watch how fast you win buyers over.