Monday, December 27, 2010

How To Respond To Smokescreens & Stalls


It's rare to talk with a prospect and not get an initial statement that includes pushback for one reason or another. A smokescreen is an immediate objection for protection from being sold. The smokescreen isn't legitimate, but it may indicate a legitimate objection later in the sales process. Example: "We don't have any budget." That may be true and you will have to overcome that later in the call OR they may just want to get rid of you.

A stall is an unstated objection that prevents them from buying today. The reason is unknown -- you have to dig to find out the true objection and if it can be overcome. It can be a symptom of a deeper attitude (objection, skepticism, etc.).

In order to make a sale, you must be able to separate the true objections from the smokescreens and stalls. Then you have to isolate and overcome those true objections.

How To Respond To Smokescreens
You have two options when confronted with smokescreens:
1. Ignore and keep going.
2. Treat it as a real objection.

To ignore and keep going, you would (a) restate the smokescreen to show you're listening, (b) put them at ease, and (c) keep going down the path of your call. Example: "You don't have any budget left. That's OK. I don't expect you to buy anything right now but would like to learn more about your company so when you start your new planning, we're familiar with each other."

When treating it as a real objection, you (a) probe to understand it, and then (b) isolate and overcome it if possible. If you can't, you'll have to ignore it and keep going.

How To Respond To A Stall
Since a stall is a put-off without a stated reason, the goal is to get the reason (true objection). Cut to the chase -- ask them directly. Example: "It seems like you are hesitant to make a decision on this. What exactly is keeping you from doing this?"

You can also ask what has to happen to get to a decision. If you still don't get a reason, you most likely will need to talk to someone else -- a decision-maker -- in the decision-making loop.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.

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