Obliterating Objections

October 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Essentials

Obliterating Objections

Don't be intimidated and don't give up

by Christine Anzell & Jack Levenson

As our fictional novice sales associate waits to see how veteran employee Julie overcomes a customer's last-minute objection (the infamous "I'd like to think about it"), let's take a moment to review the possibilities.

Our novice has decided objections are signs of interest and, as such, should not be feared. She also learned that "I want to think about it" is often a smoke screen that covers up the true issue. The real issue probably falls into one of these categories:

  • Financial – "It's overpriced" or "I can't afford it."
  • Quality – "How can I be sure I'm getting the best?"
  • Competitive – "I want to look at one more place."
  • Spousal – "I never buy anything like this without my wife seeing it first."

We're going to give our sales associate this month off and use her space to discuss how to answer specific objections – perhaps the biggest opportunity we have to improve our sales performance.

First, try not to seem "thrown" by the objection; listen with great interest to the customer and then respond empathetically: "I understand, Mrs. Green." "I know just how you feel, Mr. Brown." "You're right, Mrs. Gray." "I agree, Mr. White, $1,000 is a lot of money. Let me explain the value of this piece."

Second, don't become defensive. Answer the objection confidently and convincingly, giving the customer a reason to buy. Remember that customers with objections are not refusing to buy; they're simply looking for more information. If handled properly, an objection will lead to a closed sale and a customer who feels he wasn't sold something he really didn't want.

Here are some of the most common objections and some thoughts on how to handle each one.

"$1,000 seems like a lot of money for this"
"I understand, Mrs. Green – $1,000 is a lot of money. Let me explain why this magnificent piece is worth the price." At this point, briefly reiterate your quality story. Remind the customer about the romance – the joy the item will bring its recipient for many years to come.

"$1,000 is more than I can afford"
"I understand, Mr. Brown – $1,000 is a lot of money. There are several ways we can handle this for you. By opening an account with us, you can pay for the item over the next 36 months. Or if you prefer, you can put it on your bank credit card."

"I just can't see spending that kind of money for a ring"
"I agree; $1,000 does seem like a lot. Think about it this way: you came in prepared to spend between $500 and $600. We can always go back to the less-expensive piece I showed you earlier, but you really seem to prefer this one. No doubt your wife will enjoy this piece for the next 20 years. The difference between the two items being $480, you're looking at a mere $2 a month difference over the life of the ring to be able to give her the one you think she'll really like. Now, will that be going on your account or will you be paying cash today?"

"I'm not sure I'm happy with the quality"
"I understand your concern, Mrs. Gray; many of our customers prefer this promotional quality because of the value. Let me show you a comparable style in a finer quality." On the surface, this objection seems like an easy one to resolve. Often though, the customer wants a particular look or diamond weight but can't afford that look or weight in the finer quality.

If it is an issue of affordability, determine the customer's preference. If quality is more important, go to a smaller piece of better quality. If she wants all the look she can get for her budget, remind her she can buy it now and trade up later. "I know how you feel, Mrs. Gray. These diamond studs are an excellent 'starter' pair. Wear them and enjoy them for a while; when you feel you'd like to spend a little more, we'll be happy to take them back from you in exchange for a pair of higher quality (or heavier weight.)"

"I want to look at one more place"
Everyone seems to want to shop at "one more place." But if you can give your customer a reason to buy – an explanation he can offer to friends who question why he didn't visit other stores – you will have satisfied his need to look elsewhere.

"I understand, Mr. White. A smart shopper does compare. Let me save you some time and energy. I've shopped 'One More Place;' they do have some lower prices, but many of their pieces are 10k gold – the item you're considering is 14k." Or "Our 8mm omega weighs considerably more than most and should give you many years of pleasure." Or "Our bracelet has a barrel clasp; less-expensive ones often have a spring ring instead." You get the idea; give customers a reason to stay in your store and buy it from you; most often, they will.

By the way, don't waste time knocking your competition; it's always more professional to sell from your own strengths rather than their weaknesses.

"I never buy anything like this without my wife seeing it first"
"I know how you feel, Mr. Black. I'd want my husband to be pleased with anything I chose for him too. But if I were your wife and I knew you took the time out of your busy day to come in and choose a special gift for me, I'd be ecstatic. And bear in mind, if she's not completely delighted with this gorgeous piece, you may feel free to bring her in and we'll gladly exchange it for something she likes better." You're simply telling this thoughtful but insecure customer he's not "painting himself into a corner" with this decision; that's probably all he needs to hear to reassure himself that he's doing the right thing.

The most successful sales associates tell us the key to success is answering each objection one by one and asking for the sale each time. This is not high pressure; it's customer service at its best. Once you've answered all objections, the customer will be comfortable with the decision to buy.

To be continued ...

Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson are sales trainers in the fine jewelry industry. For information about their copyright Training Manual or jewelry-specific Client Record Keeping Books and Client-Retention Program, call them at (800) 887-8902.




Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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