3 Steps to Deal with Knee Jerk Objections: How to Keep Your Call from Floundering
by Jim Domanski
Knee jerk objections are nasty little things that wreck a call before it has barely begun. Knowing how to deal with it will reduce your frustration and increase your sale rate, so pay heed.
A knee jerk is an objection that occurs at the beginning of your tele-sales call barely after you've completed your opening statement. You know the kind I am talking about: 'I am happy with my present supplier," "I'm in a meeting," "Don't need anything right now," "Call me in a month," and the list goes on.
Why Knee Jerks Occur
Knee jerk objections occur for two reasons. First, you are an interruption. The prospect wasn't expecting your call and you're taking him away from the task at hand. Second, the prospect is worried about being "sold." He knows you're probably selling something and even if a need exists there is a tendency to put up a defensive shield.
Consequently, the prospect tosses out an objection. It's purely reflexive in nature not unlike when a doctor taps your knee with a little hammer. Your knee flicks up involuntarily. So too with clients and objections. But what's important here is that the odds are high that the objection is probably not true. It's a hasty remark designed to get rid of you. Rather insidiously, it works. The majority reps give up in defeat when faced with the knee jerk.
The 3 Steps to Handling Knee Jerk Objections: E I A
There are three steps to nipping this objection in the bud.
Empathize. The first step is to empathize. Respond by saying, "I understand completely..." or " I hear you..." This does two things. It acknowledges the clients remark and it buys you some time so that you can formulate your response.
Ignore. The second step is actually a "non step." You simply ignore the objection. Don't try to overcome it. In 98% of the cases, the objection is false. Remember, it is a reflex response aimed at getting rid of you. Responding to a false objection is a waste of time.
Ask. The third step is to calmly ask a question that is designed to get the client talking. Like a real knee jerk, your knee comes down after the tap. So too with a false objections Once uttered, the client usually settles down.
One Quick Question
Here is a really effective technique to get the prospect talking and engaged. It's called "one quick question" and here's how it works:
Client: "I am busy right now."
Rep: "I understand completely. Mr. Stewart, one quick question before I let you go ... (and ask your first question)
The positively brilliant thing about this technique is that once the client answers one question, she typically is receptive to more. Reacting to your empathy statement , the calm tone of your voice and the 'one quick question' technique the prospect almost inevitably relaxes and loosens up.
You can apply this technique to almost every knee jerk objection because the stated objection was false in the first place. The client knows this. In the rare case where the objection is real (e.g., the prospect firmly re-states that she is in a meeting) simply apologize and explain you'll call later.
The EIA process doesn't work all the time but it works some of the time. And that gives you a selling edge. Try it and you'll see.