the hidden source of sales
If you’ve got an offer out there in the wild, odds are you’ve encountered objections.
And when you’re not expecting them (like when someone randomly replies to an autoresponder with a surprisingly personal message), they can be a bit discouraging or overwhelming.
But I actually REALLY love objections.
On my teams, I’ve got an “objection buster” reputation… and it’s not uncommon for the customer service team to bring me a challenging email to see if I can turn it around.
Probably 8 or 9 times out of 10, I can… and here’s why:
Objections are sales in disguise.
So are complaints… and for a similar reason.
Think about it… if someone really doesn’t care about your offer, doesn’t vibe with it, doesn’t want it, most of them aren’t going to bother to reach out to you.
Of course there are some batshit crazy exceptions to the rule (and a more than a few folks with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do than fire off “I’m gonna show you” emails).
But for the most part, if someone’s taking the time to reach out, it’s because they actually ARE into you. They’re just not entirely sold.
Maybe they’re concerned about the price, or the time commitment.
Maybe they’ve been burned by someone before who made them believe and then sold them a load of shit.
Someone who reaches out to you, by and large, wants reassurance that they’re in the right place. And you could ignore it, you could fight it, or you could do what I do and win them over.
Personally, I like to make a bit of a game out of it… especially if they’re really upset about something. That’s not to say that I think being legitimately upset is a game to be won.
By “game” I mean, I want to figure out how I can deliver a ton of value, solve the problem, and take them from “who the hell does she think she is?” to “I think I love this chick” by the time our conversation is over.
I REALLY enjoy this level of problem solving. It’s almost like putting together a puzzle or figuring out a brain teaser.
I’ll share an example from my own experience:
Awhile back, I wrote a promotion for a big live event. Think Tony Robbins style, with a pretty sizable crowd and a lot of passionate, enthusiastic people together in one place.
Someone reached out to customer service to ask if he should come to the event if he hasn’t yet achieved X.
Customer service replied with how our events include a ton of people, at all different skill levels. How he’ll get a ton of value and clarity and focus, and it’s alright if he hasn’t yet achieved X.
He wrote back wanting to know if we were going to dedicate time to talking about X at the event, and mentioned that if we weren’t, he didn’t know if he should attend.
Enter the “Objection Buster”.
I helped customer service with a reply, and I’m paraphrasing here:
We keep the agenda close to the vest, and I can’t promise you that we’re covering X. What I CAN tell you is that we’ve had people just like you who have attended the event before they felt ready, before they did X… who came out feeling ready to conquer the world. I get that it may be uncomfortable, but how uncomfortable would it be to put this off for another year or two until you feel ready? So we can’t tell you if it’s the right time to come – only you can tell if now is your time. But whether it’s this year, or next, or two years from now… we’ll be happy to have you.
Let’s break it down:
- He wants to know the agenda (so he knows his concern will be addressed). We don’t have an agenda we can share, but I don’t want to ignore his question and pretend like he didn’t ask it. So I answer it directly and give a strong reason why – in this case, it’s that the presenter likes to be open to ideas and stories coming in to change up the flow, even at the last minute. That’s because he wants to provide the best possible experience for his attendees.
- He wants to know if he’ll fit in if he hasn’t done X (because who likes feeling left out or like they’re not on everyone else’s level?). So I let him know he’s not alone. He’s likely not going to be the rawest newbie there, and it’s likely (based on our attendees’ testimonies) that he’ll move forward much faster than he thinks he will… even if he doesn’t figure out X.
- He wants permission to come or to put it off, and validation he’s making the right choice. And here’s the tricky part – where most people screw it up. Most people will go for the hard sell here and say ABSOLUTELY yes, you should be here… and about half the time that will encourage someone to jump in. And the rest of the time it’ll scare them off and give them an “icky” feeling.
We let the choice be his, and told him either way we supported him. And here’s WHY I chose that route – he’s more likely to come and be highly glad he did if it is his choice. He’s more likely to come and be looking at everything extra critically if he feels coerced. That’s not a great experience for him, or for the company. We want raving fans and people who love sharing their experience with others.
So I don’t know how it’ll turn out, if he’ll feel comfortable or not. If he’ll make the leap of faith or not.
For some folks it takes awhile to work up that courage, and that’s alright.
When talking to customers with objections, you’ve got to remember… your business isn’t going to disappear tomorrow if you don’t close that one sale. If it is, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about.
Ideally you’ve set yourself up with the long-haul in mind. Because when you’re thinking in terms of longevity, it’s not just about that one sale you can make today.
It’s about how you create a relationship with someone.
Because creating a relationship (based on trust) is the only real way to transform them from prospect into raving, lifelong fan.
If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.
Great post Angie. This is NEXT LEVEL stuff when it comes to getting marketing right. Because customer service IS marketing.
You can tell when a company or individual is worth spending your moolah with based on their responses to objections. If they give enough of a hoo-ha to either employ an Angie-style objection buster, or have the savvy to do what you’ve described here, then you’re in good hands.
Personally I’ve been ‘sold’ by a thoughtful, non-pushy, non-templated response to a Q like your example above on several occasions, and never regretted a cent spent. If I received an answer like the one you quoted here, I’d feel comfortable taking the plunge.
It’s also so damn EASY to do this at least half-way well – and the only reason more companies don’t is when they don’t feel it’s worthwhile spending their time and/or money that way… and let’s face it, that in itself gives a pretty clear answer to any question a prospect might have.
You nailed it Pete – it took maybe 5-10 minutes extra to loop me in, and for me to sit down and think through the objections and how to reframe them. And it’s not a unique superpower that only people named Angie have – it’s a skill that can be taught. And super efficient teams can develop templates and decision trees to help them get really good at this.
Most objections are based around the same few core human fears – being left behind, being left out, not being able to get through it, not being able to afford it, not having enough time, having been burned in the past… if you take the time to think through those in advance, it makes it that much easier to answer the one-offs that come through that you couldn’t possibly have anticipated.