It was an average, run of the mill evening in my family home. I checked the clock, 7:00pm, it was time to start putting the kids to bed (an arduous task in most households).
It’s our youngest son we put to bed latest, because he’s the most rambunctious and if we can get his sister to sleep first than the rest generally falls into place smoothly.
“Ok Ava, time to get ready for bed”, I called out.
My daughter looked across at me sternly and delivered one of her firmest objections yet.
“Daddy, I’m older than my brother so I should go to bed later than him”
“She’s improving”, I thought to myself, before realizing this was suddenly a negotiation and as someone who has made their career in sales I am already embarrassed to admit how many of these I lose to a two and a four year old. I respond with the ARC.
“Sweetheart, I understand how that might make you feel to have your brother stay up later than you when he’s the younger one, but what if I told that you more sleep actually gave you more superpowers? Powers that would let you run faster to pop more bubbles than your brother and jump higher so you could make bigger splashes in puddles. I’m sure you wouldn’t want Logan to gain more superpowers than you, so why don’t we start getting ready for bed now ok?”
It worked and, sleep is scientifically proven to be an advantage in athletic endeavors, so it’s not like I was lying to her.
So what do my children and bedtime have to do with objection handling?
Well, we face objections all over our lives. Objections from our friends who don’t want to go to the movie or the restaurant we wish to. Objections from our partners over what to have for dinner. Objections from our clients or prospects. Objections from our bosses. Objections are everywhere.
Objections are simply a reason given to not move forward with a proposal.
But, objections are also a gift, and as I shared previously, they need to be earned.
Once you have earned that objection, you then need to identify if you’re dealing with a smoke-screen or a root objection. A smoke-screen objection is simply when someone tells you something to get out of what is an uncomfortable situation for them, or when perhaps they are trying not to upset you with the truth.
There is absolutely no surefire way to make it through every objection, but having a framework that you utilize will allow you to depend on muscle memory when you face them. Just like an athlete trains over and over again so that they do not need to think about their actions in the moment of truth, so should sales people and anyone else trying to improve their response to objections.
The method I leverage is called the ARC method, and using it can lead you through the smoke-screens and to the root objections.
Acknowledge that your customers feelings or thoughts are valid, so that you can reposition from a position of empathy.
Reposition the objection back toward the value and or benefits that you want the focus to be on,
Confirm that the reposition is understood and that there is not something else that’s causing the objection.
Let’s ARC a few examples that we face regularly.
Early on in a sales cycle, we often are asked to provide our pricing. We know that sharing pricing before we’ve had time to establish value will eventually lead to prospects spreadsheet shopping. Entering our rate sheet in Column A, our competitors in line from left to right.
The objection might sound a bit like this:
“I just want pricing, I don’t really have time to connect, can’t you just share your rates?”
I can understand, pricing is a critical factor in these decisions and this is why I’m hopeful I can have a few minutes of your time.
Our pricing ranges from $X to $X and it’s based on a number of factors which I want to make sure are taken into consideration when I provide you a price rather than just quote you our cheapest.
If it took one short call for me to get you a price that accurately reflected your priorities would that not be more worthwhile than an arbitrary number pulled off a shelf?
Here are a few more regulars that pop-up:
“Why don’t you reach out to me next quarter?”
Totally understandable, I’m sure you’re really busy right now.
If in 2 minutes I can share enough with you to ensure it’s worth our time to talk next quarter,
could I give it a try now?
“I just don’t have the budget, it’s too expensive”
though if this is where we’re landing than I should apologize for perhaps not being clearer earlier because during my time here I have seen time after time that our customers actually see an increase in top line revenue and an overall reduction in cost when using our services,
wouldn’t more revenue and reduced costs offset those budget concerns?
Think of an objection and give it a try. Write them out on a paper, practice them with your peers. Objection handling is a skill that needs to be tuned and refined and tuned and refined. Try the ARC method in your next session and see how it feels.
Just like with my daughter, having a method ready, practiced and on-hand ensure you have a response when you need it. Trust me, if you’ve ever seen two tired children under four years old after they had a poor sleep the night before, you’d be practice objection handling daily too.