What Your Prospect Says Is More Than Just A Distraction
How do you handle cold calls when you get them at home or the office? Although I haven’t bought anything from anyone who initiated their contact with me through a cold call in years and years, I accept almost every cold call that comes into my office. No, I have no intention of purchasing whatever the product or service they are selling is, but I’m curious to find out how the seller on the phone is going to try to gain my attention and what they will do with it once they have it.
One of the things I’ve noticed is how many sellers seem to be unable to distinguish between a question, an objection, and a statement ending the conversation.
My observation from dealing with hundreds of sellers on the phone—and please don’t assume this is a cold caller issue alone as a great many sellers make these mistakes whether on the phone or in-person although they seem to be more prevalent in phone conversations—is they cannot distinguish between a straightforward question about their product or service, an objection to purchasing, and a direct statement ending the conversation.
This doesn’t mean that all sellers handle these situations in the same manner, but there does seem to be two primary schools of thought—two primary reactions—in how to deal with questions, objections, and conversation ending statements.
The “OK, I’m outta here” school: The first method of handling these situations seems to be to simply fold up the selling tent and end the sales interview immediately upon getting what is perceived to be any resistance what-so-ever.
Ask a couple of honest questions about the product or service and the seller seems to become discouraged and simply gives up. State an objection to purchasing and they are ready to get off the phone. Make a direct statement indicating you want to end the conversation and they can’t get off the phone fast enough.
They do not differentiate between probing questions to discover more information about their offering, an objection to making a purchase that could possibly be dealt with, and a desire to end the sales interview. To them, they all indicate resistance and resistance means “no sale.”
The “I can’t hear you” school: The opposite method of handling these situations is to also treat them all the same, but this time instead of rolling over and giving up, the seller presses on, ignoring the questions, ignoring the statements, forcing the prospect to either acquiesce to the sale or to finally hang up on the caller.
These are the sellers who have been trained that a ‘no’ never means no. An objection is something to be ignored because it is nothing but a delaying tactic. A statement seeking to end the conversation is nothing but an objection and objections are to be ignored because they are nothing but delaying tactics. If you’re a really a good salesperson, you ‘lead’ the prospect to make the decision that is right for them, which is, of course, to make the purchase.
Why are these sellers so oblivious to the obvious differences between a question an objection and a desire to end the conversation? Why do some see everything as resistance and others never see resistance?
Certainly, a great deal of this has to do with the sales training—or lack thereof—these sellers have received.
Those who give up easily have probably had little or no sales training. Product training, maybe; but I doubt they’ve had much training in how to sell.
Those who push forward no matter what have been trained very well—trained to ignore, to push, to bully, to demand until the prospect either buys or finds a way to end the conversation which probably means resorting to cussing out the seller or hanging up on them. These sellers have been taught well in the sense that their trainers have instilled the desired behavior in them, but they certainly haven’t been taught to be professional sellers.
I think both of these groups of sellers suffer from more than just their training or lack thereof. I think there are a number of sellers that suffer from a serious lack of communication skills. They don’t listen. They can’t assimilate what the prospect is communicating. They really don’t know how to respond to what they perceive to be unwelcome or unexpected responses. Their focus is only on getting the sale which means for some what they say is the only thing of importance, what the prospect says is nothing but a distraction; while for others once they’ve made their case, they have nowhere else to go.
Communication has always been at the heart of selling and is becoming ever more critical as our prospects have more and more alternatives to acquire the information and guidance they need to analyze their problems and issues and to develop solutions to those problems and issues. Our prospects now have as much information at their fingertips as we sellers can ever provide them. An increasing number are deciding they don’t need a salesperson at all—ever.
If we sellers want to be relevant to prospects, we better learn the communication skills that have always been one of the hallmarks of the top sellers.