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Common job issues and solutions in Workplace Communication Skills

“Why wouldn’t you buy our product?”



Learn to counter-balance a customer’s concerns. Don’t confront them.

It was an unusual sales approach. At a county fair, a lady on a solar energy booth grabbed me as I walked past, and without introduction, popped the question:


“Why wouldn’t you invest in solar to reduce your home energy bills?”


My mind then promptly produced several excellent reasons for precisely why I wouldn’t buy solar to reduce my energy bills, and these reasons all came to me despite my notorious passion for inflicting all sort of green gizmos on our long-suffering home.


Whether you are selling or presenting, it’s a good idea to plan for how you can zap customer objections as soon as possible, and there are several ways to do this. Coming straight out and asking the customer to justify those objections however, isn’t one of them!


For presentations and sales meetings, the advice is similar. Put yourself into the customer’s shoes, and ask yourself what likely worries about your product or message the individual might have in their mind.


Think of these early stage objections as being similar to the glowing embers that you find at the heart of a camp-fire, the morning after a mammoth marshmallow roasting session. Go out to that pile of ashes, poke around with a stick, and you’ll find those tiny hot-spots hidden deep down at the center. Add some dried leaves or grass and before you know it, you’ve got a blazing fire.


Sales objections work in the same way. The customer might not want to smack you with an objection, but if you add the wrong fuel (or statement!) in just the right spot, then whoosh, up go those flames.


Given this pile of ashes with an ember in the middle, what’s the most effective way to absolutely ensure that no flame ever takes hold?


It’s to dump a large bucket of cold water all over it. Drench that pile of ashes so thoroughly that no flame of objection is ever going to emerge!


Here are some ideas for how to simulate a deep drenching deluge of water. The most important step for each of them is to first of all take a moment to anticipate what objections are most likely to occur, and then.....


For Sales Meetings

Every possible objection has an antidote. Imagine for example that you are selling laptop computers. Your competitor’s product has a screen that’s bigger and brighter than yours. 


To overcome potential objections about your dimensionally challenged display, consider the downsides of those bigger and brighter panels:


  • They increase the physical foot-print of the laptop

  • The make it chunkier to carry around

  • They take more power and reduce the battery life


Take time to explore with the customer how important these antidote aspects are to them: the laptop’s size, weight, and battery life. 

  • How mobile does the customer expect to be with the laptop? 

  • How long will they want to work away from mains power? 

  • How important are weight and size to them?

  • Will they ever try to use it on an airline tray-table?


Now imagine a balance. You’ve got all those antidotes on one side of the balance, and the bigger, brighter panel on the other side. Do a good enough job, and your antidotes will ever so gently counter-balance the objection. 


Let’s compare this to our lady at the state fair. She did it exactly the opposite way around. By starting out with asking me to justify my objections, she effectively asked me to build all the weight onto the objection side of the balance. And because these were reasons that I had come up with all by myself, then to my mind they were damned good reasons.


Learn to counter-balance a customer’s concerns. Don’t confront them.


For Presentations

The approach is slightly different here, because in a presentation you don’t have so much freedom to ask the audience questions.


Here we take more of a direct approach. There are two ways to do it: Nice ‘n subtle, or smack ‘em in the face!


To illustrate both approaches, we’ll use a scenario. Imagine that you are about to present to a room full of college students, and it’s the annual career fair. Your goal is to persuade the best and the brightest of them that your company is the ideal place to work. You’ve got lots of things in your favor, but going against you is the widely held belief that your organization just isn’t green enough. In fact some folks think that you’re a bit of a polluter.


Nice n’ subtle:

With the likely objection being your environmental record, you can gently pour the bucket of water over the ember by having a section early in the presentation where you directly address the environmental initiatives that your company makes. Everything from recycling bins in the rest areas, through to encouraging employees to bike to work, through to the reserve for distressed elderly penguins that you’ve been sponsoring in the Arctic.


It’s not so much a deluge of water as a gentle sideways wash to soothe out the objection before it arises.


The Smack in the Face

You might however want to be more direct about it, and here’s where a powerful statement comes in useful. 


Before you deliver your environmental accolades, raise the subject of environmentalism in front of the audience’s eyes like a red-rag in front of a bull:


“Some people claim that we don’t have a good record on the environment. I’m happy to reassure you all that this is not the case, because....”


Having hoisted the objection publicly up onto the stage, you are now free to demolish it with all those counter-arguments you prepared. Because it was you yourself who raised the objection, it’s you yourself that gets to knock it down. Having done so, you are now effectively defying anybody else in the audience to raise that objection again, and usually, they won’t!


Objections, whether in sales meetings or presentations, need to be planned for. If planned for they can be countered. If countered, they go away.


Always take your bucket of water and know how you’re going to use it. And whatever you do..... never ask either the customer or the audience why they wouldn’t want to buy your product.



{#/pub/images/PeterWatts.jpg}Written by Peter Watts, writer, coach, and trainer guiding presenters to be at their best when on the stage. Following a 15 year career within the technology sector that included 11 years working for Dell, Peter became a consultant specializing in training and coaching business presenters. Today he works with teams around America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to help multinational organizations to bring their message to their customers through the spoken word.Peter is based in the UK. In addition to training under his own Speak2All brand and as an Associate Trainer, he also writes a weekly blog of ideas for presenters, and can be followed daily on Twitter.



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