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Dealing with Sales Objections

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When shop owners seek out training at Elite Worldwide, sales and leadership trainer Jennifer Monclus says, typically, the No. 1 need is overcoming sales objections. The reason, Monclus says, is because advisors don’t follow a sales cycle that involves clear communication, building a rapport, fact finding and creating value. When an objection then occurs, the advisor fears failure, gets defensive and hits a wall, ultimately resulting in the loss of a sale. “It’s just unfamiliar territory. They don’t know how to create a dialogue after that point,” she says. “And they stop, they roll over and they don’t take it much further after that.”

Even the best service advisors run into sales objections from time to time, which is why it’s imperative to know how to respond when they occur. Monclus walks through a five-step process to deal with sales objections and create a productive conversation.

Superstars start selling when the customer says “no.” You first need to understand the mindset of handling the sales objection. They’ve got to look at every customer, ethically, just like a family member. If your mom tried to pass on a safety-related repair, you would have a conversation with her because you care about her safety. That same mentality needs to start with every customer. First and foremost, when an objection occurs, it has to be a dialogue.

The first step is that when the objection comes out of the customer’s mouth, all the advisor needs to do is hear the objection out. Send the right body language, make eye contact, listen and let them vent with no interruptions. When they get that objection, empathetic listening, being sympathetic and understanding where the customer is coming from is paramount.

Next, you need to feed the objection back to the customer in a caring way. You’re going to regurgitate what that customer just said to you so you can get clarity. What I notice is that advisors just assume. If a customer says, “That’s a lot of money,” that could mean a few different things. If they feed it back to the customer, they could ask them to elaborate and get some clarification to get to the root of the problem. They might not understand why there’s a need for a water pump or they might feel that this is more expensive than the last repair they did on a completely different vehicle. They’ve got to figure out the core root of the concern or hesitation.

The third step is answering the objection. Handle the objection while it’s still in a dialogue form and get the customer involved. The rule of thumb is figure out what the core root is first before you handle the objection. Someone can come in and say, “That’s too expensive, I want to install my own parts.” You have to handle that completely differently than someone who says, “This car is too old and I’m not going to drop $3,000. I’m going to trade it in.”

Let me illustrate the distinction: Typically, the trade-it-in discussion is going to be the longest dialogue because that’s a big decision. You have to do more fact finding. Really good service advisors are good detectives, so you want to ask questions. What kind of vehicle are you looking for? Depending on the year, make and model and what’s wrong with the vehicle today, you can talk about vehicle longevity, cost justifying and the higher trade-in value they might get if they fix the vehicle today. You don’t want to be defensive and make the customer feel that you’re just after the sale. Learn more and provide different options. Typically, customers will do a little shopping, realize it’s a headache and decide to fix it.

The fourth step is to confirm the answer. What that means is making sure the customer is on the same page and that it makes sense to them. “Do you see how, regarding price, it’s really about the value you get delivered, which sounds like that’s something that’s important to you?” During that part, make sure that there are some yeses or minor closes.

Then, and only then, can you ask for the sale. You’re asking for the decision again. That means you’ve had a dialogue with them, you’ve given them more information so they can reconsider the choice. Ask for the sale and then move on. You want to change the subject and get that customer back to his or her busy life.

One final caveat is to know when to quit. If you sense that the customer is becoming frustrated in the least bit, quit. If you sense that you’re becoming frustrated in the least bit, quit. You never want that frustration to show through to the customer. And lastly, if you feel the customer fully understands everything that has been recommended, when you’ve answered all of their concerns in a professional way, and they have still decided to pass on the recommendations, quit. At that point, you’ll just be going in circles and it won’t go any further.

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