Learning how to properly respond to customer objections is an important part of any well structured sales process. In order to understand why customers object, you need to be clear and honest about your methods of selling. Then, you will know how customers perceive you and why they present objections during the sales presentation.
For many decades, the car business was perceived as an ‘us against them’ industry. Instead of seeing customers as the most important factor in our business, we often viewed them as objects to be manipulated and controlled. Most sales training taught methods designed to pressure the customer into making an immediate decision no matter what it took. Since the average customer knew very little about how our business worked, they were convinced we were making huge profits on every deal, giving them too little for their trades and charging them more for our products than we should.
Many sales people believed the old adage that “all buyers are liars.” Most customers still say they would rather go to a dentist than to a dealership to buy a car. That alone says a lot about the friction that kept customers on the defensive and often made selling a car a combative experience.
This brings us to the first reason why customers object when they come to a dealership: They fear they will make a mistake or be taken advantage of and sold something that is not what they really want or need. When they come to a dealership, they are often in a defensive mode because they fully expect to be abused by the salesperson or the management.
Why do they fear this happening? It may be that they had a past car buying experience that didn’t go well. They may have been prepped by family or friends who told them things to look out for and gave them tips of what to avoid. Perhaps, they have spent hours on the Internet doing their shopping preparations, yet still feel they are no match for a professional salesperson. Often, it can be something as simple as someone telling them, “No matter what you do, don’t let them pressure you into buying today.”
If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that there are some people in this business who can give customers a real reason to be afraid of getting a bad deal. With the vast resources that are available on the Internet today, even those who used to sell that way are finding it unwise to follow that practice. The smart salesperson is not just looking to sell a car; he knows that earning a customer for life is far better. The best way to do that is to first make a genuine effort to eliminate the customer’s fear and defensiveness. When you can do this, your chances of overcoming their objections are much higher.
Secondly, customers object because they are looking for more information to help them with their decision making process. It may be an impulsive reaction because they don’t see the value in the product you are trying to sell them. That is a very reasonable cause for objecting and any salesperson who wants to avoid giving the customer the information they are seeking has their own fears to deal with: fear of losing the sale. You must earn a customer’s business not assume it. What better way to do that than to professionally and honestly respond to their objections in a way that gives them assurance and eases their concerns?
The third reason is that most people are trained to object and do it impulsively. Just recently, I went in to buy a pair of shoes the other day and knew exactly what I wanted. My goal was to be in and out of there in 10 minutes or less. Yet when the salesperson approached me and asked if they could help me, I stated, “I’m just looking.” It was just an impulsive response.
When you take the time to reasonably and intelligently respond to a customer’s objections, it sets you apart and makes you unique. Most other salespeople they speak with will not do that. You distinguish yourselves from the competition when you do. Remember, they are not only looking for the right product. They are also looking for the right salesperson and the right dealership.
The customer who is seriously looking for information before making a purchase is not likely to yield to pressure tactics and will probably return to the person who offered them the most help when they do decide to buy. Statistically, that will typically happen within fourteen days. Of course you want to sell them a car today. However, if they don’t plan to buy today, selling them in two weeks is still better than not selling at all.
The fourth and final reason customers object is in an effort to stall the process and maintain control of their decision making. This is often a tactic used to get the salesperson to lower the price in an attempt to make the sale. Sometimes this is just an unwillingness to cooperate with our process and regain any control they feel they may have lost.
Whatever the reason for their objections, it is critical that you are well prepared and at ease with an immediate and effective response. By avoiding a combative stance with the customer, you stand a good chance of reducing their objections and giving them a reason to buy.
There are four primary steps to overcoming customer objections:
Acknowledge their Objection ― Customers already expect us to act in a certain way because they are familiar with the old school method of selling. When you respond with the exact opposite of what they expect, you catch them pleasantly off guard. This immediately begins to lower their defenses. They were expecting an attack on their objection, but instead you empathize with them and show that you understand how they feel and have felt that way yourselves. By avoiding the typical combative response you eliminate the customers need to push back with another objection.
Counter the Objection ― Once you have lowered their defenses by being positive and empathetic in your response, you are now in the position to give the customer other thoughts to consider with less pushback coming from them in return. It is critical that you now give them logical and intelligent information to consider. By doing so, you bring them back into your sales process and eliminate their natural defensive resistance impulses. The goal of the counter step is to make a statement, tell a story or present a scenario that will give the customer a reason to have second thoughts about the objection they are making.
Seek Acknowledgement ― This step is designed to discover whether or not the customer has accepted your explanation so that we can move forward to the close. If they do not accept your counter, you cannot proceed to the close at this point. A typical statement to seek acknowledgement might be something like, “Now that makes logical sense, doesn’t it?” If the customer agrees with you then you can proceed to the close. If not, you must return to the previous step and present another counter to their objection.
The Close ― No matter where you are in the process, unless you have accomplished three things in your presentation, you are not ready to close. When the customer has been sold on the product, the salesperson, and the value of purchasing from your dealership, then you are ready to close. When this has been accomplished, you have earned the right to ask for their business. Every time you finish your response, you must close and ask for the sale.
As you have probably noticed, I never once mentioned price. Why? Because getting involved in a price situation is the last thing you want to do. You want to keep negotiating the price to the very end. You will need it if you are unable to close the deal using logical objection responses.
When you can successfully overcome customer objections, you validate the value of your process and yourself as a professional as well. Customers want to buy a vehicle or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. Your job is to give them a good reason to purchase what you have to offer and to buy it from you and from your dealership. Once this has been accomplished, you have every reason to expect a positive response when you ask for the sale.
But again, don’t forget to ask for the sale! You might be surprised to find out how many salespeople do a great job overcoming the customers objections, but forget to ask for the sale when all is said and done. Whatever you do, if you have done a good job earning their business, make sure you ask them to purchase. If you don’t, you may find yourself back at square one trying to figure out how you got there.