Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Know When to Keep Your Mouth Shut

As good salespeople we should always anticipate objections that our customers might have to our product or service. By anticipating objections, we can be prepared and offer intelligent, well reasoned responses to these objections. The trick is to know when to keep your mouth shut.

A number of years ago I was travelling with a new salesperson. You may recall when WHMIS was the big buzz word in the industry, and our customers were busy trying to collect Material Safety Data Sheets for every hazardous material in their plant. Our company had put together a collection of thousands of MSDS in a set of 6 binders, and we were selling the set for two thousand dollars. This was quite a bit of money at the time, and a number of prospects had objected to the price. We had learned to anticipate the price objection, and had formulated a good response.

Sure, two thousand dollars is a lot of money, but our collection contained the vast majority of data sheets that our customers were likely to need. By purchasing the set, our customers could save hundreds of hours of work, worth much more than two thousand dollars. And we really couldn’t sell the set for less, since we had put thousands of man hours into the set, and just producing the sets of binders was costly and time consuming.

So there we were, meeting a new customer to discuss the product, and of course he asked, “how much?” We tell him, “two thousand dollars”, and her replies, “that seems like a fair price!” My novice colleague jumps in and says, “many customers think that two thousand dollars is a high price”, and proceeds to offer our prepared response to the price objection.

Back in the car we discussed how the sales call went, and I told him, that I thought it was great that he had prepared a well reasoned response to the price objection, but, “you need to know when to keep your mouth shut!” Just because he had a prepared response didn’t mean he had to use it. By answering an unvoiced objection, he may have planted a seed of doubt in the customers mind that otherwise might never have germinated.

So yes, please prepare to answer objections, but for heaven’s sake, don’t answer objections that your customer doesn’t raise!