In selling, asking is everything: you have to ask for what you want, directly, assertively and repeatedly. Passive and insecure behavior only serves to encourage greater resistance.
Asking with confidence is one of the most difficult things to do, because when you do it you instantly make yourself vulnerable, you give your side to one of the deepest human fears: the fear of rejection. It is the most treacherous and disruptive emotion for a seller.
The point is that there are no shortcuts to obtain unconditional “yes”, there is no magic dust that can make the refusal disappear, there are no perfect words, valid in all circumstances, to transform “no” to “yes” . The only way to get rid of waste is to never ask for anything.
Three keys to find out how to ask to get what you want
To reduce the resistance and get what you want you have to ask with confidence, concisely and without hesitation. If you look scared, you will transfer fear to the prospect (the potential customer) and create resistance where it did not previously exist. People tend to respond in tone, one of the characteristics of human behavior is the “emotional contagion”, which leads us to reflect the behaviors and emotions of those around us.
The three keys to ask:
- The assertive request: ask with confidence and think of getting what you want. Your positive expectation will manifest itself in body language. Your emotions influence the emotions of those around you, if you exude trust, this trust is transferred to customers inducing them to satisfy your requests.You must develop and exercise techniques to show enthusiasm and trust even when you don’t try them. Start by managing your non-verbal communication: tone of voice (deep), inflection (relaxed and friendly) and rhythm (slow and with the right pauses); use calm gestures, maintain an upright and relaxed posture, smile, offer a secure handshake, maintain eye contact.
- Shut up, don’t be intimidated by silence: after making your request you have to learn to shut up. Often for fear of refusal, the sellers, after making their request, no longer stop talking, transferring their insecurity to the customer.
- Be ready to face objections and negotiate: you must be prepared for objections, in this way you will have the necessary confidence and courage to wait for the customer’s response.
Four objections encountered during an agreement to successfully overcome them
Objections are manifested in different forms and at different times during the sales process, tackling these blocks and overcoming them at the right time is the key to shorten the process, avoid the stalls and close the sale.
There are 4 types of objections:
1) Prospecting Objections: (simple prospecting objections): simple reflex answers, people have little time and don’t want to lose it with sellers. They occur at the beginning of the process, are the most frequent, are fast and are very hard.
2) Red Herrings: (lett. Red herring, that is false tracks): they are irrelevant topics that are introduced into the conversation by the potential customer and that divert attention from the main topic.
3) Objections to micro-commitments: during the sales process you will ask the customer for micro-commitments, small steps and actions to bring him closer to the finish line, you must never leave a conversation with a stakeholder (interested party) without setting the next step. Objections of this type are the least severe, the steps required are risk-free for the customer.
4) Objections to the purchase: when you ask people to make a purchase decision you will always get objections. Objections on price, timing, competition, etc.
Psychological reactance: A way to counter it
You are at the end of the sales process, after weeks of research, meetings, demos and presentations the customer says he needs more time to reflect. What are you doing? It seems dysfunctional that a client hesitates in making a change that is right for him, the fact is that it is not an intentional behavior, but an unconscious one.
You cannot hope to convince the customer that he is wrong, the more you insist the more he will resist. This behavior is called psychological reactance or the tendency to rebel when we are deprived of the freedom to choose, when we feel controlled. Despite the logic of your arguments, facts and data, the people you want to convince will step on their feet and rebel.
When you trigger the ballast, move the customer away from you instead of approaching him. For this reason, debating, refuting, fighting does not work.
Science has shown that decision-making processes, including objections, are driven by emotions and not by logic. If you try to solve them with logic you will hit a wall.
The brain uses heuristic decisions to make decisions quickly. These are shortcuts, the so-called cognitive biases that allow the brain to save time and make decisions quickly. The bias of the status quo, for example, is what makes your client ask for more time to reflect even if the logic says that it is right to change and move forward.
Change makes us anxious. The safety bias is what makes us remember negative events more vividly than positive ones and which makes us tend towards safer choices.
Buying is an emotional experience full of stress. Buyers are inundated with options, misinformation and constant requests from many sellers, the penalty for bad choice can be severe. Even in the face of the urgent need to solve a problem, people will procrastinate to avoid conflict, change, risk, uncertainty.
They will need time to reflect, consider other options, involve other people, they will avoid you. It is important that you take note of the fact that you are dealing with people guided by their unconscious cognitive biases.
Objections are not waste but are perceived by sellers as such
Objections are not waste, they are signs of confusion, of aversion to risk, of fear of change. They are a natural part of any decision making process. Objections, questions and negotiations, in most cases, are a sign that the prospect is still involved.
The anticipation of a refusal and the erroneous perception of the objections as of the waste trigger a wave of disruptive emotions in the sellers, a neuropsychological response similar to that of a real refusal.
Fear of rejection is a survival mechanism, an evolutionary mechanism: in the time of the caves it was impossible to survive separated from the rest of the tribe, therefore we developed this sensitivity, vital for survival.
The fear of rejection is an alarm bell, if you don’t want to be ostracized you have to change your behavior, adapt, learn to live in society.
The importance of being able to control your emotions in the sale
As humans, we are hardwired to feel pain when we are rejected. This pain triggers fear, which can be: anticipated, perceived or real. On an evolutionary level, sensitivity towards rejection is a trait that has been rewarded.
The point is that if you are a professional salesman you are obliged to ask, when you ask you will get objections, which will trigger a flow of destructive emotions, an unconscious fight-or-flight response (fight or flee). There is nothing that requires a higher level of emotional control than asking for something and having to face the objections that will necessarily follow.
All this leads us to the most important lesson of this book: in every sales process, those who manage to control their emotions the most have the highest chance of obtaining the desired result.
Become a rejection-proof seller
Disruptive emotions are manifested in behaviors that cause misunderstandings, clouding of concentration, situational awareness and erosion of trust.
They are: fear, despair, insecurity, need to feel important and accepted, attachment, impatience, concern.
Learning to manage these emotions is the primary ability for a seller, the one that will allow you to influence the emotions of other people at the decisive moment, when the “no” comes into play.
The first step is self-awareness, recognizing emotion, allowing the rational part of your brain to choose the appropriate behavior and response.
To become rejection proof:
- You must be ready and open to learning and to obtain resilience by going through the crucible of adversity and pain.
- You must choose to intentionally deal with your fear: obstacle immunity is a choice.
- You must actively seek rejection by continuing to ask for what you want.
- You must overcome a state of cognitive dissonance in which you will have to face the emotional pain resulting from perceived, potential and real objections and fight the desire to return to your old state of comfort.
It is important that customers make objections
Avoiding objections is not a sales strategy. Choosing illusion over reality means lying to yourself and lowering your standards. The truth must be put on the table early and often.
We must encourage potential customers to reveal their objections early in the sales process for the following reasons:
- To understand if the stakeholder is seriously willing to move forward in the agreement.
- To invest your time with a better prospect when there are no opportunities.
- It is much easier to deal with objections, questions and concerns early in the sales process than when trying to close the deal.
- When you have all the potential obstacles out in the open, it is easier to develop a proposal and message that minimizes these concerns.
- Objections are a part of the decision making process; speak promptly their concerns helps the stakeholders to overcome the bias and safety statu s quo bias.
- He deepens the relationship because it shows that you are willing to be open and collaborative.
Three secrets to overcome the objections that raise prospecting activities
Among all the objections these are the most severe, they are harsh and cold, often they are real waste. Prospecting activities (by phone, email or in person) are annoying because they are interruptions and nobody likes to be interrupted.
When prospecting you can receive three types of objections: reflex responses, brush-offs (responses with which you are turned away) and true objections. They must be addressed with a structure in 3 steps:
- Ledge (ledge) : we have seen that a refusal triggers an emotional reaction (the fight-or-flight mode) that prevents you from thinking rationally, a ledge is an automatic response that gives your rational brain time to regain control on negative emotions.
- Upset : the secret to overcoming refusal is to do something different from your competitors, something your potential customer doesn’t expect.
- Ask : in the end you have to ask again. What you never have to do is fight.
Structuring a sales conversation to avoid objections
A false track is something that the stakeholder does, says or asks by distracting you from your focus and diverts your attention from the goal of the sales conversation.
They are walls that customers erect at the beginning of the sales process for fear of being manipulated. Overcoming this type of objection requires a lot of emotional control.
Following a predetermined structure in a sales conversation will help you stay in control and avoid objections of this type:
- Open the conversation using a relaxed and professional tone, showing respect and confirming the time allotted for the meeting.
- Define the goal of the call and prepare your stakeholder to take the next step.
- Check if the stakeholder has something to add, recognize the false tracks but do not follow them.
- Frame and take control of the conversation by asking open questions that encourage the client to speak.
Before closing a meeting, fix the next step
Each small step makes the next one easier. Micro-commitments are crucial for the success of the agreement, they leverage the investment effect (if you pay a price for something, be it money or time, this will have more value).
Each micro-commitment increases the investment and makes the possibility of going back more difficult. For this reason you must never leave a sales meeting without first setting the next step.
Objections of this type are rarely waste, they are phrases of the type: “At the moment I am very busy, call me back next week”. The key to overcoming these objections is to demonstrate the value inherent in planning the next step.
To do this you need:
- Using a ledge , an automatic phrase that gives your rational brain time to take control over emotions, something like “it all makes sense”, “that’s exactly what I asked”.
- Explain the value of the next step for the customer, what the customer gains.
- Ask again . Don’t wait for the customer to do the job for you. Do not hesitate.
How to overcome the final objections and close the sale
There are no shortcuts, closing an agreement is not an easy process. When you ask for the purchase and get an objection, negative emotions hit you hard, the brain turns off, you lose control.
It is easy at this point to see the client as an opponent or try to prevail in the discussion, the result however revolves around your ability to regain control, guide the conversation and influence the client’s emotions.
All this is achieved if you follow this model in 5 stages:
- Recognize the objection, relate to the customer and his point of view.
- Ask questions to isolate the real objection, problem or concern. Clarify the objection before addressing it, never assume you know what the customer means, ask open questions so that the customer can express his / her intentions.
- Minimize : remind the customer of his problems, desires, needs together with the opportunities and yes that you have already collected, show him a brighter future.
- Ask again.
- Fall back : offer an alternative that has a lower perceived risk, a smaller purchase, a trial period.