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By Frances McGuckin

No matter how powerful, successful and strategic your marketing efforts are, if you can’t close a sale with a customer, then all that marketing effort is for nothing. You will always have customers who present a variety of problems to you. Yet it is surprising how many salespeople struggle to prevent their customers from voicing their problems or concerns.

You need customers to voice their problems before you complete the sale. It is your job to ensure that all problems or objections are satisfactorily answered before you try the closing process. Objections are those reasons why customers feel that they should not buy your product.

As a prospective buyer, if you mention to a salesperson that a vacuum cleaner is too expensive, yet they can demonstrate how it can save you money over the years, is it still too expensive? Was this really your objection, or was there another underlying problem that you didn’t mention?

Clarify the objection
Objections voiced by customers often don’t truly express the real problem. Clarify and have suitable answers. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. How do you achieve this? Quite simply, be prepared. Before you can address an objection, you must fully understand it, so ask the prospect.

After your wonderful presentation to a customer who wants to purchase a vehicle, he or she answers you with: “I’ll think about it.” Ask them: “Why? Is there anything I have missed or that you are not sure of?” If the prospect answers, you can be sure there is something holding them back. Your job is to now work with them to identify that objection. Once identified and dealt with, you are in a position to close the sale.

If the customer doesn’t answer your question or reiterates the first answer, you probably failed in your first attempt to complete the “Five Ws of Selling” (who is buying, what do they need or want, why, where and when do they need it). If he or she is the decision-maker, wants and needs a reliable vehicle immediately, and your suggested vehicle fills this need, plus you addressed other problems, the customer should purchase the vehicle, providing he or she has the financial ability.

If finances were the only reason that the customer is hesitating and you offer a suitable financial arrangement, then the sale will be finalized. Sometimes people just want to browse. In the “Five Ws,” you should have identified this and geared your presentation to suit. By helping now, you will encourage the customer to return when he or she is ready.

If the purpose of your presentation was to bring them to the point of making a buying decision, you must now handle all the objections. You need to show them why they should buy from you.

Use the “Feel, Felt, Found” technique
There are many ways to handle objections, including the “Feel, Felt, Found” and “Averting” techniques. The “Feel, Found, Felt” technique is helpful when you are dealing with an emotional customer. People like to know that you have been listening to them and that you empathize with them. The “Feel, Felt, Found” technique demonstrates that other customers have expressed similar concerns with satisfying end results.

As an example, your customer is at the point of making a buying decision, but mentions that the vacuum cleaner she likes is too expensive. Reply using the “Feel, Felt, Found” technique, only with the utmost sincerity. If the prospect feels that you are not sincere, this method will backfire and you could lose not only the sale, but the customer. It’s very effective when used correctly. Try empathizing with your customer using something like the following:

“I can understand why you feel this way, as many of our long-term customers felt the same way when they first shopped here. What they have found is that by buying our top-quality vacuums, they have lasted and been maintenance-free for twice as long as our nearest competitor. It really depends on what you want.” (This should have been identified during the “Five Ws” stage.)

Use the “Averting” technique
This second technique is more pre-emptive, to be used before an objection is even raised. When your salesperson repeatedly hears the same objection, incorporate your response into the presentation, thus completely averting the objection. If you sell computers, you might use the following:

“…even if the speed of computers doubles in the next six months, this computer allows you to use this installed software for many years to come. If an upgrade is necessary, we can easily do that for you, it’s no trouble at all and we can do it free of charge when you buy the unit.”

By using the “Averting” technique, you have circumvented this common objection about the speed of technological change while allowing the customer to focus on the features and benefits. A competent salesperson can time the averted objection to minimize its effect and maximize the benefits, then continuing on to stress how this software will help to solve the customer’s problem.

Listen to your customers, focus on their needs, solve their problems using the above techniques and you will turn a problem into a positive sale.

Frances McGuckin is regularly rated as Google's No. 1 "small business expert" and "small business author", a motivational business speaker, columnist and best-selling author of Business for Beginners , (US and Canadian), Big Ideas for Growing Your Small Business (Canadian) and Taking Your Business to the Next Level: An essential step-by-step success plan (U.S. edition) with her books now being published in seven countries . She can be reached at 1-888-771-2771, e-mail at .

This column is available for syndication. For information, contact Frances McGuckin at

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