The year has started off in a whirlwind. We’ve had the NCAA National Football Championship, Super Bowl LIV, political unrest in an election year, and it seems winter weather has not showed up yet in most areas of the country. In my travels and phone/video coaching sessions recently, a lot of salespeople feel as though customers are putting off making buying decisions, sitting on the fence, or simply stalling.
As with any objection, you cannot overcome it. Only the person with an objection can resolve their objection. However, you can better understand it and help the customer reframe their perspective by sharing additional information to facilitate advancing the buying process by asking a series of questions to break down the objection and determine the nature of its roots.
The last thing you want to do is simply drop back and punt with a weak and pathetic offer to follow-up by saying, "Okay, when can I call you back to follow-up?"
Scheduling a follow-up visit or phone call is of little use if the prospect is not interested. Their agreement to a date is simply a polite way to dismiss you. Whatever day or time the prospect gives you is the next time they'll stall, give you the brush off, or avoid you altogether.
When confronted with any objection, your first move is not to concede, but rather commence a dialogue regarding the issue. You can do this by asking clarifying questions and follow-up questions that advance the process.
In the case of an objection that stalls the process such as “I/We want to think it over,” “We are going to wait until next year” or, “We are going to wait until our current system breaks,” say: "Okay. I can certainly understand your wanting to take your time. That lets me know how important it is to you to get your decision right, and I agree with you 100% since it’s a large investment and long-term commitment. To help people get the best possible outcome most of our customers like you ask themselves a question that provides clarity and certainty: Money aside and based on everything we’ve discussed, would you agree that the solutions you’ve selected are a good value and will fully address your concerns, make sense and be handled by someone you can rely on to do the right thing?"
This step is critical and confirms that the prospect is not just blowing smoke. There is no use wasting your valuable time getting caught in voicemail jail, endless emails, text tornadoes or having your follow-up calls avoided or met with put-offs. In other words, if the prospect is going to say ‘No,’ better to get it now rather than to be strung along and waste both your time and theirs when their effort to be polite is really anything but their inability or cowardice to say ‘No.’
Don’t make the mistake of attempting to create urgency for the prospect to act by offering a discount, a deal to fill an installation slot, the impending event of your promotion expiring or some other gimmick that will destroy the position of trust you have established. You will only validate their fears of you being pushy or pressuring them.
Since your prospect has confirmed that they have a genuine and sincere interest in your offering, then understanding their timeframe becomes useful. State:
"We know educated customers make for happy customers, so we want you to take all the time you need to make an informed and intelligent decision to get the best possible outcome for you, your family, your home and your bank account for the next 20+ years or however long you plan on staying in your home. We want you to be happy with whatever direction you go as long as you do so knowingly. We also realize you won’t really know if you are happy until the system is installed and running over the range of seasons. That’s why we give our customers a two-year unconditional happiness or your money back guarantee. This gives you a two-year trial rather than a short-term test drive with no recourse. Live with it for two years and if you are not happy, give us an opportunity to make things right or we’ll buy it back. No games, gimmicks, excuses, compromises, or surprises. There’s no risk. You can’t lose!”
Take note. Use phraseology that has the prospect acting and removes and reverses all the risk. Providing such assurances typically gives the customer clarity and peace of mind to take a leap of faith with certainty. Simply asking to callback, visit or follow-up only requests permission to call or visit again and does not advance the process.
Remove money from being an issue by ALWAYS quoting small monthly payments before energy and repair cost savings, confirm with them the reasons they are interested and then ask questions that get them to agree that the monthly investment makes sense and will help them to avoid missing out by waiting any longer to remedy the situation. In fact, it may cost more.
When a future price increase looms, energy savings would be foregone, or the additional repairs may occur, help the prospect quantify real dollars possibly lost. For example, “By waiting until next year you are probably going to incur a 10-12% price increase and meanwhile you still have to maintain and repair your current system that is going to cost $450 more to operate if energy costs remain stable, wouldn’t you agree?”
Ultimately, if you conclude the prospect has a valid reason for waiting, and they agree that they want to work with you, gain a firm commitment now to advance the process to closure. For example, “I will call you as we’ve noted in our calendars, however if any questions arise or anything changes between now and then, please don’t hastate to contact me, okay?” Or, "Great, then the next time we speak we can discuss how you want to proceed. We can then arrange to take care of the paperwork and pick an installation date, or if for any reason you don’t want to move forward you can let me know that, too. Either way is okay with me as long as you make a decision you and your family are happy with. Fair enough?"
The key to getting closure on sales leads when there is no sense of urgency is to get upfront mutual commitments as to how to proceed that always let the customer know that they can pull the plug on the process at any time and that, if they make a commitment, there is zero risk and 100% recourse. People want to know that you understand the burden they feel to make a good choice and not regret it or lose, and want to know that you’ve got their back when they spend a ton of money with someone they don’t know, representing a company they don’t know, for a product/service and provider they may not feel qualified to select properly for such a long-term commitment. You’re a consumer, how would you feel in this position? Act accordingly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Drew Cameron, America’s Most Sought After Sales & Marketing Strategy Adviser to Home Services Contractors, is president of HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc.; the premier alliance providing industry-leading marketing planning, budgeting, content and support; sales recruiting, education, coaching, consulting and performance enhancement for Home Services Contractors; and design and economic analysis sales software for HVAC and Home Performance companies. Drew’s 40 years of experience in all facets of running a residential contracting business helps contractors implement effective lead development strategies and build multi-million-dollar profit-generating home services companies. Drew is a renowned author, educator, coach, consultant, inspirational/educational/”irritational” speaker, software developer, industry philanthropist, and a Tom McCart International Consultant Award Winner as well as a Board member, a Foundation Board Trustee, and a Contractor University Founder & Faculty member for Electric & Gas industries Association (EGIA); a Service Roundtable Consult & Coach Partner & Preferred Vendor; and an Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) member.