Sixth and final in a series of meeting outlines to help you train your sales staff. Here we focus on the difficult subject of overcoming objections
Sometimes the sales process including your closing techniquesÊÊgoes off without a hitch (see "Staff Meeting #5," Professional Jeweler, November 2000, p. 98). Other times, customers don't react positively when you try to close. Instead of answering "charge" when we ask "cash or charge?" they raise an objection. That's when it's time for the Isolate and Answer portions of the "Listen-Isolate-Answer-Move On" formula we introduced last month.
Objections are not as often "no" as they are "maybe"; they're less often dead-ends than detours. Often the customer simply needs more information, and all you need to do is deal with it promptly, politely and positively.
Overcoming objections may be the most important lesson in this series. If you can impress upon sales associates how easily they can overcome objections, you can increase their closing percentages and your business significantly. Remember, keep this training session brief, positive, motivational, personalized and interactive. If need be, split it into two meetings.
The aim of this lesson is to understand how to overcome objections.
Don't ignore objections: they won't go away by themselves.
Don't feel defeated either; most often, the customer simply needs a question answered, a moment to think or a certain comfort level achieved before buying.
Each time you overcome an objection, ask for the sale again. You may have to ask for the sale three, four, even five times before you succeed. These repeated attempts will put you over the top.
I. Be Prepared to React to Every Objection
A. Be empathetic not sympathetic. (You want them to know you understand how they feel, not that you feel the same way.)
1. "I understand, Mrs. Brown. "One thousand dollars is a lot of money ..."
2. "I know what you mean, Mr. Green. Many of our clients like to get their spouse's opinion first."
B. Be positive, not argumentative or defensive.
1. "You're right, Mrs. White. A smart shopper does look around first."
C. Project confidence.
1. "What you say makes sense, Mrs. Black. Let me show you how you can make this purchase for only a few dollars per week.
II. The Most Common Objections
(This is an excellent opportunity to elicit participation and interaction from your sales associates. Instead of telling them how to overcome specific objections, give them the objection and let them tell you and their colleagues how they might handle it.)
A. "I want to think about it."
1. Most common objection.
2. Usually a smokescreen for a specific objection.
3. Sales associate must try to filter out the true issue.
a. "I understand you want to think about it, Rose. It's a big decision. What questions can I answer to help you with the decision?"
B. "It's too much money."
1. Does the customer think the item is overpriced or is it beyond his or her budget?
a. If she thinks it's overpriced, reiterate your quality story. "I understand you might think you saw the same ring at a lower price elsewhere, Daisy. Let's review the clarity and color information."
b. If budget is the issue, talk credit options, amortize the price over the 20 years she'll wear it or, if all else fails, show a lesser-quality or lighter-weight piece and talk about future trade-ups.
1. "I understand $2,000 is a lot of money, Violet. In the 20 years you'll wear and enjoy this bracelet, it would cost only $2 a week."
2. "I can set you up with an account that will allow you to pay over the next three years."
3. "Let's look at the half-carat studs instead. They're a great starter pair she'll love, and you can trade them in the next year for the 1-ct. studs."
C. "I want to shop around."
1. You respond: "A smart shopper does compare, Iris. I can save you some time, though, because I've shopped the competition in town. No one has a bigger selection (or lower price, higher quality or better warranty whatever applies) than we do."
2. Why not buy the ring and take it with you to compare. I'm confident you'll be thrilled with your decision after you've seen what else is out there."
D. "I never buy anything without my wife seeing it first."
1. "I agree that's a smart way to shop, Mr. Pansy. I'll tell you what, though. If I knew my husband had taken the time out of his busy schedule to pick out something special and surprise me with it, I'd be thrilled as I'm sure Mrs. Pansy will be. Let me gift-wrap this for you."
This outline and the five preceding it will give you the foundation for a series of ongoing training sessions designed to keep your sales staff sharp and performing well. If you have a meeting every few weeks and cover one of these subjects, don't stop after completing #6. Go back to #1 and begin again. Ongoing training incorporating role-playing and other forms of interaction and testing is vital to keep your sales staff at peak performance.
Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson are well-known sales trainers in the jewelry industry.