Objections are a natural part of the selling process. They come in many forms: challenges, opportunities, problems, requests for more information, cries for value building, stalling, and more. They can also be annoying as heck and make you want to drive your car off a cliff.

Yet mostly, they're simply the manner in which prospects communicate their status in the buying process. Thus, they're crucial to understand. Yet, most salespeople struggle to overcome them, leaving the prospect to mumble that they'll "get back to you," "need to think about it," or "do some checking around." None of those are fun to hear, and don't pay very well either.

The high performance salesperson recognizes and appreciates objections. If there are no objections, it could mean that the prospect is apathetic. But when there are objections, the key to overcoming them is to turn a negative into a positive.

This is how the objection sequence works:

  1. Listen to the objection. Hear the prospect out completely. Don't anticipate what they're saying and finish the sentence for them. Don't interrupt. If appropriate, close your book to take the tension off them.
  2. Explain the objection as you understand it for clarity — "I can appreciate that, so what you are saying is (objection)." Isolate the objection and lock it down.
  3. Or, question the objection — "That's very interesting. Just for my own information, why do you feel (objection)?" Again, isolate and lock down the objection.
  4. Confirm that you have answered the objection — "I guess we've made that clear?" or, "Does that make sense now?" or, "I'm glad you brought up that point, because our most informed customers always become our most satisfied customers. Are you comfortable that we have addressed that 100% to your satisfaction?" Get past it before moving on!
  5. Go toward the close. This must only be done after answering each objection this prospect raises.

Handling the No. 1 Objection: Price
A prospect can present any number of objections, but the most common is "your price is too high." Don't let it end there. For you, the price is always right — because you understand the value. You just have to get your prospect to get to that same understanding. There are several ways you can do that:

Payment versus price. Tell the prospect, "I am glad you mentioned price. That's really the best part about buying from us. We'll put the purchase price into small installment payments, so your actual investment per month will probably be lower than what you spend in energy and repairs!"

Quality versus cheapness. Ask the prospect, "Have you ever figured the price of not having high quality? The price of breakdowns, the cost of wasted time, the phone calls, the headaches, and the repair bills. You see the high quality actually saves you money in the end. When would be the best time to start saving that money?"

Initial Price and Value Elevation. Begin by quoting a price that is very high and then gradually build your value to match or exceed that price. Then your actual price sounds far more reasonable.

For example, you can cay, "Your new system — outfitted the way you want it — will probably run to $6,000 or a little more." Then as you continue expounding upon each item of value, the customer is beginning to see how it might well go past $6,000.

When you present the proposal, you say, "Well, with everything figured in and the way I saw we could wisely save you some money, your system total is just $5,280." Your high initial price will "raise" their thinking about price and will cause them to value the item more highly. When you present it as within their reach, it becomes almost irresistible.

Emphasize benefits. Sales master Charlie Greer says that when customers reject your offer based on price, they're only taking money into consideration. There's a lot more to the purchase, and you've got to make that clear for the customer. You've got to believe in your own mind "For what we do, we're the cheapest in town." Be able to spell out the benefits of doing business with your company. By doing so, you're helping your customer organize his thoughts so he can make the right decision.

Make it look difficult. If customers balk at the high price, explain that this is the price at which you have been selling the item for some time, and anything lower would be the rare exception and very difficult.

You may even quote neighborhood houses that have similarly priced systems! (This may put a little guilt into their "cheapness gene"). This is for those times when you're pretty sure that the balk was staged or just a little "smoke" from the customer to see if you'd negotiate. Staying firm is the tactic to use here.

Speak only in terms of "difference." Don't ever speak of the full price of your system versus their own view of the most they'll pay; only refer to the difference. For example, if your system is $6,000 and he only wants to pay $5,200, you never mention "six thousand dollars" again. Instead, you say, "We're only $800 apart." Then begin to focus on increasing the value by more than the difference, or by taking out things to equal the difference.

Reduce to minimal terms. Using the above example, "Your payment on the $800 is less than $17 a month. You'll save more in energy than that."

Or, "You'd spend more than that on repairs to your old, energy-wasting system. But your new system comes with our five-year parts and labor warranty, so any and all repairs are free."

Or, "Over the 10-year system life, this $800 is just over $6 a month, which is about 21 cents a day. Isn't it worth getting what you want for 21 cents a day?"

Use visual aids. Place your right hand about a foot in front of you at eye level, palm down. Call that the fair market value of what you're offering. Then place your left hand about six inches below your right. Say, "If you offer me this, and I try to get you up here (move your left hand up so that it is now six inches above your right hand), shame on me."

Return your left hand to its original position and say, "But if you offer me this and I bring us closer to an even playing field (move your left hand so that it is even with the right), does this sound fair?" This builds credibility and moves you ahead dramatically in the negotiation process.

If you can learn to overcome objections, you overcome resistance to the sales process. Follow these tips to close more sales, more often, at higher prices.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. Call 800/489-9099 to request the free 16-page report "How to Double Your HVAC Sales in 90 Days". For a free marketing newsletter, contractors can fax their letterhead with the request to 334/262-1115 or email freestuff@hudsonink.com. Check out www.hudsonink.com for other free marketing articles and reports.