Many sales trainers accentuate the necessity of knowing when to shut up. However, the one time that silence can end the selling process is immediately after a prospect expresses an objection. A blank stare is not an acceptable answer.

There are only three basic ways that a prospect can respond to what you're conveying: acceptance, objection, or indifference.

While a “canned pitch” isn't my cup of tea, there are only so many objections you'll encounter when selling service agreements. By responding without a glitch, you'll remain authoritative in your prospect's eyes.

I've been asked numerous times to list objections and corresponding responses. So here you go.

OBJECTION: “Your offices are in the Northern suburbs. Company “A” is just down the street from our building.”

ANSWERS: 1. “Our technicians, just like Company “A's”, work all over the city. We're always close to your facility.”

2. “Our dispatchers are trained to send the right technician with the right inventory, so we can get you on line as soon as possible. Isn't that what you're really looking for?”

3. “Perhaps you're accustomed to needing someone close. Our planned and comprehensive maintenance programs are designed to remove that need.”

OBJECTION: “Our air conditioning equipment is only five years old. I feel that we should wait a few years and then consider a program.”

ANSWERS: 1. “Five years is actually one third of the equipment's expected life. The attention given now will pay dividends both short and long term.

2. “You can see from our pictures that many situations have already developed. Dirty coils are presently wasting energy dollars as well as increasing equipment run-time. Ultimately, this results in premature replacement.”

OBJECTION: “How do we know that when we really need your service, five or 10 years down the road, you won't cancel us or raise the price to where it's cost prohibitive?

ANSWERS: 1. “I understand your concern, but ours is a long-term commitment. Every year we invest in your mechanical systems. Every year that investment increases. We certainly don't want to lose our investment.”

2. “Let's change the scenerio: In any given year, we could spend far more than we receive in reparations or replacements. Would you cancel our agreement at that time?”

3. “Our agreement forms allow you to fill in how long the agreement is for. Just write in the number of years you would like us to commit to, and we'll honor it. After all, for the first time, your service provider sits on the same side of the desk as you do.”

OBJECTION: “We've never been a proponent of service agreements. Couldn't you perform the same tasks on a time and material basis?”

ANSWERS: 1. “Absolutely. That would remove us from all risks. However, our planned program is totally administered by us. Without a mutual agreement, that responsibility becomes yours.”

2. “An agreement between you and our company allows us to plan our scheduling. This means less down time and non-billable labor. That savings is passed on to customers who are willing to mutually commit.”

OBJECTION: “Your price is almost three times what we are currently spending.”

ANSWERS: 1. “Yes, but not what it's currently costing. When we consider the energy savings, costs for consumables, trouble calls, lost tenants, and the life extension of your mechanical systems, the cost is actually reduced by 30%. Other dividends include more comfort, reduced breakdowns, tenant satisfaction, and the peace of mind of knowing that the preventive maintenance is being done regularly.”

OBJECTION: “You've clearly pointed out, through the pictures, that our present maintenance program has not been the best. How can we be sure that you'll be any different?”

ANSWERS: 1. “With our program, we share ownership of the mechanical systems. If a $50 contactor is overlooked and results in an $8,000 compressor replacement, the cost burden is ours. That's our incentive to assure every task is covered.”

2. “Our computerized tasking is tailored to each customer's building. In turn, the task lists accompany our technicians to the site during each inspection. The task list is signed by the technician affirming that he has completed each one.”

In overcoming objections, your answers must be learned, practiced, and given fluidly. Video taped role plays are a huge help in developing a professional sales staff. In future articles, we'll talk more on objection handling.

Earl King is vice president of Houston-based Way Service Ltd., a 91-year-old Design/Build mechanical contracting firm located in four cities and serving the entire state of Texas. Learn more by visiting wayservice.com. King is also the founder of King Productions International. Questions or comments can be directed to: profithvac@aol.com or call 515-321-2426.