The Green Sheet Online Edition
July 24, 2017 • Issue 17:07:02
Ask, don't argue
Objections are a fact of life for salespeople worldwide, including merchant level salespeople (MLSs). Lessons on how to overcome them are integral to training programs. Books devoted to dealing with the most common objections abound on Amazon. Articles and blog posts are dedicated to the topic, as well. It is true that over the years, sales professionals have acquired and shared much information on how to succeed at this important aspect of the sales process.
Yet some hard-working MLSs forget one basic best practice: when a prospect voices an objection at any point during a presentation, do not argue. For some, defensiveness clicks in when merchants insist they have no need of what is being offered; they attempt to correct the merchant, whom they feel doesn't grasp what their offering can do for them. For others, enthusiasm for their products gets in the way and causes them to negate the prospect's statements and push forward with their products' benefits too soon.
"If you've been in this position before, you know that disagreeing doesn't get you anywhere," wrote Paul H. Green in Good Selling!SM: The Basics. "The merchant will just 'stick to her guns' and/or become defensive."
Ask first, then listen
Green proposed an alternative: ask questions. As an example, he described a situation in which a merchant believes selectively accepting checks is the best solution for handling check payments. Instead of telling the merchant he or she is wrong, Green suggested asking such questions as, "How is selectively accepting checks working for you? Have you ever had to turn down a check you were uncertain of? How did you handle that situation? Did you convert the sale to another payment type, or did you lose the sale?"
These kinds of questions "can lead to a real conversation about the multiple payment options you offer," Green said. This is because it:
- Gives the merchant a chance to talk
- Opens up a way for the merchant to come over to your side, without embarrassment
- Gives the MLS a chance to listen and acquire information to use later in the presentation
Asking the right questions is critical to an MLS's ability to successfully overcome objections. And conducting research on both the merchant's vertical and individual business will help ensure the questions will be on target. Listening well and being flexible are also critical.
Sometimes, however, a merchant will not be swayed no matter how skilled an MLS is. Being able to ascertain when you've reached this point and need to move on is another ability top salespeople have.
"When asked what the most important action a salesperson in any profession can take, I always say, 'Know when to walk away,'" wrote Jeff Fortney in "Race to the Top," The Green Sheet, Sept.8, 2014, issue 14:09:01. "As much as you may want to sign everyone, sometimes a steep learning curve, unreasonable merchant demands or the effort required make it prudent to choose not to sign an account. Before walking in the door, or even talking to a prospect, you must be mentally prepared to walk away."
Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.