Answering Objections


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Answering objections and resistance from customers requires a new mindset from distributor reps.

How do I overcome objections? How do I handle “NO”? How do I deal with difficult people? At the beginning of my sales leadership sessions, when I ask animal health professionals what they would like to accomplish by the end of the session, these are by far the most popular responses. Many people seem programmed to think if they can overcome, handle or minimize their customer’s negative points of view, their customer will drop their resistance, and the goals set for this call will be achieved. In other words, the belief seems to be “If I prove my point, you will you drop yours.”

Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State under President Kennedy, exposed the futility of that logic when he said, “To me, the silliest argument in the world is, ‘If you knew what I know, you would agree with me.’”

So, how do you manage resistance and answer objections?

You can meet resistance with resistance, but the winner only gets a loser who remembers it forever.

What your client is really saying

Given that the objective of leadership is to obtain wholehearted followers for a given course of action, you need to create a whole new mindset when it comes to managing resistance and answering objections.

Start by thinking of resistance as your client saying, “I cannot catch up with your confidence. This (the point of resistance) is standing in the way. Can you help me?” Any resistance now is seen as the client asking for your help, and that should change your entire approach.

Think of this in the context of the options for addressing online competition. In a past life, veterinarians controlled both the product and services associated with a client visit. In the current life, veterinarians have lost one-third of the product share they formally enjoyed. In the immediate future life, the next third is at risk.

Recent studies have shown well-developed wellness programs can stop the bleeding and even recapture some of the market share. As this clinic’s distributor rep, you attempt to suggest this route to the decision-maker who responds with these three objections:

“Too complex, too hard to implement, too difficult to manage.”

Instead of immediately jumping in and trying to handle or overcome those objections, try slowing down:

“So, the ideal wellness program needs to be simple to understand, implement, and manage? What else would be important?”

Until you discover the client’s point of view regarding wellness programs, you cannot begin to explore the program that will work best for them.

“We tried that years ago and could not get our clients interested.”

Pause again and remember to acknowledge first, and gather more information like so:

“Tell me more about that. What was the biggest stumbling block in talking to your clients?”

Once you understand their point of view, you can present aligned solutions that will establish the appropriate priorities, offer help, reduce risk, prevent future problems, and/or provide the appropriate proof.

“I’ve heard the only customers that sign up are already buying all their products from us.”

Acknowledge and probe:

“So, cannibalizing your ‘A’ clients is not an option. What else is of concern?’

Interestingly, the more you help your clients manage the problems preventing them from reaching confidence, the more you will be a trusted adviser and less of just another distributor sales representative.

By the way, in most operations, trusted advisors usually end up with most distribution purchases, while vendors are relegated to secondary or tertiary positions. So, the trusted advisor role is good for both your psyche and your pocketbook.

Remember, first change your mindset – see resistance or objections as your customer saying, “I cannot reach confidence; can you help me?” Then change your approach by acknowledging and probing to understand the situation from your customer’s perspective.

Many times, the NIQCL probing sequence will aid you in asking the right questions:

  • Need
  • Importance
  • Quantify
  • Consequences
  • Look/listen

However, remember to continue to acknowledge the answers before asking the next question so that you create a conversation and not an interrogation. Aligning comes next, and you will be surprised to see the resistance and objection dissolve right before your eyes.

BONUS: If you are facing a particularly difficult objection, send it to me with context, and I’ll try to send some optional responses to move the conversation forward.

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