Friday, March 16, 2012

Combatting 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 four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.


  1. Your March 22nd, 2012, Post on "Objections" has NO Comment Box.
    But on March 16th, the Comment Box is here to employ.
    One must go back to January to find the Comment Box, despite about 10 intervening Posts, and no way to comment.

    I never saw a Blog without a Comment Box, or it becomes "Do What I Say" instead of asking audience participation on the Common Denominators of Success" in sales.

    Sales is like a Resume.
    The very resume that leads to employment at one spot, could easily be the same Resume that cost you the job at the prior 100 attempts for work. It ISN'T YOU; customers have different needs.
    The same YOU, must meet ALL of those various needs or perish in sales.

    I read the Objection post, and I object.
    There is no magic formula to meeting objections.

    People may not like or need your product, and like an ugly date, do not wish to tell you the truth.

    A well researched and tailored presentation MINIMIZES objections, as the listeners see you have done your homework on them (like a good job interview).

    Failing to Close is a bigger loss to all sales than objections.
    Indeed, objections lead to a close if done well.

    Here is the Reader's Digest Cliff Notes to sales:

    "Everybody out there is buying every product they need to do business.
    They have a supplier for all needs and their needs are met.
    How do you know this? The business is still in business.

    Along comes YOU. Your mission is to convince the buyer, with solid evidence, that every decision he/she is making in purchasing, etc. is WRONG...for one reason.

    They have failed to buy from YOU"

    It is no small task.

    Forgiveness is the aroma of the violet, on the heel that crushed it.

    So too with sales. You must crush the prior decisions to buy elsewhere (rather than from you) but in such a way, as to leave a pleasing aroma, and be welcomed back as a highlight in the buyer's day....EVERY time they see you.

    Or get the hell out of Sales,.... and destroying the reputation of professionals.

    I get your email. I read it. I read the Blog less often.
    Open the Comment Box in every post and use the input of your audience. Do we not always expect input of our customers to succeed?

    Fix this.
    It is like your fly is unzipped and folks are too kind to tell you of your dilemma.