The dreaded objection, the worst part of the sales call. When I was selling for One Horn, I hated the part when the prospect came up with reasons why he or she might not use my company to ship its freight. But objections are a fact of life in the day-to-day dealings of the sales professional, so we all have to deal with them. I got over the fact that it was nothing personal, they were not rejecting me, just some a perception about my company’s services. I had to develop a thick skin. But I also had to develop an intelligent way of responding to counter their objections and turn them around so that I could win the shipper’s business. And by now you know, I researched and read books to educate myself so that I could overcome this challenging area of sales, so my company would grow and succeed. I am happy to share with you some of the best ideas I found.

As some of you may know, I love positivity, and always try to look at things from the optimistic point of view. So I was very happy when I read that “A genuine objection is usually a sign that the person is thinking seriously about buying from us,” in J. Oliver Crom and Michael Crom’s Dale Carnegie Associates book entitled The Sales Advantage*. Taken from this standpoint, if you get to the point of the objection, then the shipper is looking for more information to make a decision. So if you truly listen so the person feels heard, and respond calmly and intelligently, there is a good chance you will convince them to let you transport their products. The Croms say that we can reframe objections and instead of fearing them, look at them as opportunities to communicate with our prospects in a way that will help them feel good about deciding to work with us.

In my last blog, I promised to delve more deeply into the two types of objections described by Renvoisé and Morin in Neuromarketing Objections Resulting from Misunderstandings and Valid Objections. When an objection results from a misunderstanding, it can be handled on a rational level and the prospect usually requires more information. In this case, Renvoisé and Morin recommend the following steps:

    • Step 1: Restate the Objection. Paraphrase the prospects comment and then clearly ask, “Is that your concern?”
    • Step 2: Step into the Objection. The old brain senses fear, so if this is a face-to-face meeting, your body language is important here. By moving toward the person who is making the objection, you are sending the old brain the message that you are not afraid of the objection.
    • Step 3: Hear Your Prospect Out. In this step you need to practice good listening so that you get a thorough understanding of the objection and figure out how to overcome it. Your shipper might think brokers have less communication with drivers.
    • Step 4: Deliver the Proof. Calmly demonstrate your point of view with tangible proof like a story, a testimonial, or facts about your company’s performance. Offer this proof without discrediting the prospect, “We get the cell phone numbers of the drivers just like carrier dispatchers, and we have a service that tracks the driver’s cell phone location. This way we have both active and passive knowledge of where the truck really is.” Then ask, “Did that help resolve your concern?”

Valid objections are triggered by the shipper’s old brain, because he or she is afraid of making the wrong decision and your proof of gain was not strong enough to convince him or her. The best way to handle a valid objection, like a cost concern, is to reframe it. Start with the same first three steps above, then use the following alternative steps:

    • Alternative Step 4: State Your Personal Opinion. As the old brain is self-centered, you make an old brain to old brain connection by using the power of your credibility to get the prospect to see your point of view. In a confident but friendly manner, state, “I understand your concern about rates, Leslie. Personally I think our prices are very competitive, given the value we offer in taking the headaches away from having to deal with the drivers and ensuring if a truck breaks down, another one will be seamlessly provided.”
    • Alternative Step 5: Present a Positive Side to the Objection. Find the positive side to a valid objection, like higher prices mean more reliable service. Then appeal to the old brain with a story that highlights the importance of that positive side. “I once had a friend who needed to get to the airport for an important flight. He had a choice between two car services, one for $30, more of a taxi than a limo, with a driver and a car that were unkempt and who didn’t prepare alternative routes, and another for $45 with a well-polished driver who had checked traffic and planned for the contingency of alternate routes. Which one do you think he chose? Although you might say that as a broker, our rates may be a bit higher than a carrier, remember the headaches we eliminate and the reliability we ensure. When your customer wants your products on time, and you’re too busy to chase after trucks and drivers, where would your time and money be best spent?”

    Both books also advocate listing common objections and memorizing your responses so they flow naturally and smoothly every time.

    In my next blog, I will write about what to do when a load goes wrong.

    – By Cheryl Biron, President

    *Click through for full references on books that inspired us: