Prospects show sales resistance by pointing out real or imagined obstacles, and by voicing objections, sincere or insincere. In analyzing sales resistance, the salesperson needs skill for accurate and rapid appraisal of people and their motivations. A prospect’s expressed sales resistance is either an obstacle or an objection. An obstacle is real or unreal; an objection is sincere or insincere.
Obstacles to sales. Obstacles are real or apparent reasons that the prospect has for not buying. If the obstacle is real, it precludes the consummation of the sale. But if it is apparent, there are ways to circumvent it. A prospect says a temporary shortage of cash prevents buying—an obstacle, not an objection— and the salesperson helps the prospect to circumvent it by explaining a method for financing the purchase. Some obstacles can be circumvented, others cannot. When an obstacle arises, the salesperson determines whether or not there is a way to get around it. If the salesperson recognizes the specific obstacle and knows a way to circumvent it, the next move is to present the solution to the prospect.
Sales objections. Objections are never good reasons for failing to complete the sale, but they nearly always divert the salesperson’s presentation from its main course. At best, an objection requires a satisfactory answer; at worst, it blocks the sale. Adroitness in handling objections is a difference between effective and ineffective salespeople.
Sincere objections trace to incompleteness, inaccuracy, or vagueness in the sales presentation. Prospects may not recognize the nature of their needs, or they may have doubts about the appropriateness of the product to fulfill those needs. Prospects may be confused in some respect, or may react unfavorably to the salesperson’s personality. Except when personality conflict cannot be resolved (a real obstacle, not an objection), sincere objections are overcome by patient and thorough explanations.
Prospects raise insincere objections to discourage salespersons, to get rid of them, to test their competence, and as false excuses for not buying. When salespersons sense that an objection is insincere, they seek to regain the offensive as soon as possible. They do not permit an insincere objection to provoke an argument—one of the surest ways to lose a sale.
Some sales executives say that every objection, no matter how insincere, should be treated with the utmost courtesy. Others say that insincere objections should be ignored. The best defensive strategy often is the strong counter-attack, and the salesperson should seek to regain the initiative as soon as he or she can gracefully do so.
Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.