I Object! - Handling Customer Objections
Furniture World Magazine
By Cathy Finney
If They Didn't Care... They Wouldn't Do It!
Everything is going along so-o- smoothly. She is excited! You are answering her questions and assisting her with this decision. You're on a roll. LIFE IS GOOD! When out of the blue, the world as you know it comes to a crashing halt! She starts throwing out objections like they were hand grenades during a military training maneuver.
AN OBJECTION - A PROCESS - NOT AN EVENT!
An objection is nothing more than part of the buying process some consumers must go through! It's just the way they are. Today, more than ever before, they need to know that they are receiving a quality product at a good value.
When we, in the world of retail hear an objection, our first reaction is to panic! We treat objections like momentous events! We react to them by crumbling right before their eyes!
Don't do-o-o that! the next time you get an objection, get excited! It means your customer is interested. They want to buy or they wouldn't be objecting!
THE "O" IN OBJECTION means OPPORTUNITY!
Have you ever tried to assist someone who wasn't talking. They weren't speaking, objecting, or even breathing at regular intervals? That's tough to deal with, isn't it? When your customers object or express a concern, you can get a handle on what they are thinking. Answer their questions and keep going.
THE BIG "O" - PRICE!
What about you when you've been shopping and you just can't find anything. If there is nothing there that you would ever want to own, do you care what the price is? Of course not! If you wouldn't own it, it doesn't matter how much it cost!
Customer: "$1,200.00 for a sofa!@#*@*#! Are you nuts? I'm not spending $1,200.00 for a sofa!@*#@!"
Oh no, there it is the BIG "O!" So now what do you do? You launch back into your presentation explaining features and benefits and whatever else you can pry loose from your brain reserve. In other words, you start dancing as fast as you can! Don't get me wrong, you may need to expound upon those features - they're important. But, before you do that you must Find Out Who The Enemy Is Fast!!
WHAT do they mean by TOO MUCH? (How much are we off here?)
Salesperson: "$1200 is too much? Tell me, how much were you planning on investing in your new sofa? In other words, what I need to assist you is some type of "price range."
We've discussed the words Invest and Price Range before in the February 1998 issue of FURNITURE WORLD (If you lost your copy, check the Sales Skill Article Index on www. furninfo.com). They must give you two figures.
Customer: "Well I only wanted to spend $800-$1,000." Good for you! You just picked up $200. Now you are no longer justifying $1,200. How much are you justifying? That's right! You got it! If you establish that they were planning to spend $1,000, you only have to justify an additional $200. They spent the $1,000 already!
FIND OUT WHAT THEY MEAN BY "TOO MUCH"
Some trainers teach you to announce the price and then ask, "How does that sound?"
That question is good, except it doesn't give you the answers that you really need. Most consumers will tell you that the price is "fine," which is totally obscure and tells you nothing. Fine - What?
Are you in the ballpark or aren't you? The word "fine" is "consumer code" for "are you nuts, I'm not spending that much money!" - or - "I can't afford this price, but I'm not telling you that!"
Or they may say, "that's just too much." But - you still don't know what they mean by too much?
It is much better to say, "How does that sound? Is that in the price range you were planning on investing?"
Now - you're getting somewhere and it's where you want to go! If they're uncomfortable sharing this information with you, then take it one step further by saying, "We have so many options available. My job is to assist you and stay within the range that you have in mind."
You are letting them know in a very nice way that you do not intend to be nosy, you just want to assist them with this important decision.
It all comes down to telling them "why" you're doing "what" you're doing. "Why" you're asking "what" you're asking. Tell them "the rules!" You're letting them know that you are a professional analyzing their needs. You are not a "clerk" who is just trying to sell them something.
SPECIAL NOTE ON QUOTING PRICES:
Don't quote percentage off -- 40% OFF! What does that mean?
Percentage off pricing sounds like you "played with the numbers." Tell them in dollar amounts how much they are saving. They can identify with this. This they care about.
When you tell them,"This is a savings for you of $500.00," you are speaking Their Language.
At the risk of gender bias here, most women will see the $500 going toward the end tables or lamps. Men, on the other hand, will see that money going right back into the bank. "Where it belongs."
A wonderful analogy to use with men who are purchasing furniture is their car.
I had a client who was recently divorced and came in looking for a new living room. He told me he had never done this before and to "just put it together." I did. It came to $9,000.00.
After I retrieved him from the floor he sputtered, "Cathy you have been very nice and extremely helpful. However, if you think that I am paying $9,000 for a living room you are out of your mind!"
So I said, "Sam, can I ask you a question? How much did you pay for your car out there?"
That's right! He bought the living room. I just had to put it in the proper perspective for him. You tell me. What's the better investment? A car that depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot, or furniture that you're going to live with for a long time in your home?
Not only is furniture a better investment, it is extremely low maintenance. You don't have to put gas in it, get it inspected every year, have its tires rotated, or pay to have it registered with the state on an annual basis!
A sofa? Vacuum it, turn the cushions, curl up, and get comfortable!
YOUR VALUES or their values?
You can't "help them" out of your own pocket or stated another way, "thou shalt not inflict thy value system on the "buying public!"This means that you should not decide how much they could, should, would, or will spend. People want what they want. Help them to own the selection of their choice!
I discuss this topic on a regular basis at my seminars, and light bulbs go off all over the place. Many new sales consultants can identify with this situation immediately.
When I started, I was the world's worst. I'd total up rooms, break out in a cold sweat, and think, "wow, I couldn't afford to pay that much! Wow! No way! That's so much! That's too much!" So I would show them something they didn't want to try to help them save money! Not only did I not help them, I made them even more confused then when they came in! "Creating confusion" is not part of your job description!
Then one day my "own" light bulb went on. It finally hit me. "I wasn't buying this! They were!" Who was I to decide for them how much they were going to spend.
Don't decide for them how much they should invest! When you decide to arbitrarily try to save your customers money, flashing lights and fire works start to explode! Bells and alarms are sounding!
- You just insulted them.
- You are saying that they really do look like this is all they can afford!
- You are telling them that you are saving them money because they look like they belong at this price level!
This list could go on and on! But, you get the idea. This is not a pretty picture we are painting!
Next month We will expand our discussion of price objections... including what to do if they want a"deal."
Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Her latest audio tape series on follow-up is called "The Marketing of "Me, Inc." -Taking Your Company Into the Next Millennium--10 audio tapes plus a comprehensive "how-to" manual that helps your people turn all the customers into "clients!" Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at email@example.com.
Cathy Finney, effervescent sales educator, motivator and management consultant was a longtime contributing editor to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine. Cathy helped retail furniture store sales and design associates to turn customers (she called them Fred and Ethel) into clients. An enthusiastic mentor and friend to up-and-coming salespeople, she told them to remember that they are skilled professionals and that “Ethel” needs them to get the best possible result for her room or project.
Finney got her start in the furniture business with Ethan Allen where she worked closely with Furniture Hall of Fame member Nathan Ancell. Her company, Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T" resulted from that close relationship. She passed away at 59 years of age after a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. For more information about Cathy and here work email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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