How you handle sales objections determines whether you close the deal or walk away empty-handed. Although some salespeople instinctively try to negate the clients’ concerns, taking a defensive position creates an additional barrier. A more effective approach involves turning sales objections on their heads so that they invite discussion rather than halt it. The S.A.L.E. technique, which reminds you to Stop, Acknowledge, Listen and offer an Example, is an excellent tool for mastering that approach.
A few-second pause after a client voices a sales objection reduces the chance that you'll react defensively. That little bit of time gives you a moment to step back and compose an appropriate response, and it builds anticipation as the client waits to hear what you have to say.
Trust your instinct to know how long a pause is enough. Leave enough time to contemplate what the client has said, but not so much that the silence puts the client on edge.
Acknowledging a client's sales objection suggests an ability and willingness to put yourself in the client's shoes. Not only does that open-mindedness demonstrate a desire to understand the client's needs; it also shows that you're empathetic to the client's frustrations, and it thus positions you as an ally.
The key component to this aspect of the S.A.L.E. technique is that you acknowledge how the client feels without suggesting that you share the same concerns. Statements such as “That is something we need to consider” or “thank you for making that point” validate the client’s concerns without empathizing to the point that you talk the client out of sale.
Objections are often rooted in a perceived risk that clients have difficulty communicating. Listening to your client — staying present in the conversation and hearing what the client is telling you rather than thinking ahead to what you want to say next — helps you understand and address the real issues at hand. In the process, you position yourself as a problem-solver with a solution to the client's concerns.
Careful listening also paves the way for you to ask questions and keep the dialog going. It has been said that, given enough time, clients will tell you want they want and essentially sell themselves.
Real-world examples of how you handled situations similar to your client's establishes your authority and expertise. The examples you give should demonstrate how and why a past client with the same sales objections overcame them and ultimately had an excellent experience.
This technique works because it adds an element of surprise to your conversations with clients. Many people have been programmed to expect their sales objections to be met with aggressive, hard-sell retorts. When they feel validated rather than vilified, they're far more open to hearing what you have to say.
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