As I walked past a Brookstone in an airport one Sunday afternoon several years ago, a guy was clearly teaching his associates how to sell their remote-controlled helicopters.
“The key is to fly them,” he said as the associates stood off to the side smiling and rolling their eyes. From the concourse, I watched intrigued as the helicopter zipped overheated massage chairs and around air purifiers. I had to walk in.
The trainer asked me a couple of questions to build rapport and then showed me how easy the toy was to use. I objected, “It doesn’t look like something I’d do on my own; I’ll pass.” The trainer quickly said, “Well that’s why you should get two so you have someone to play with. I’m sure you know someone who would enjoy this as much as you.”
I purchased two. He had dealt with my objection to get the sale.
I recently watched a Brookstone associate milling around the store while several shoppers picked up gadgets and tried them as he impassively looked on. That guy didn’t care to engage a shopper or sell the merchandise. He figured - wrongly - the merchandise could sell itself.
I thought about those two different interactions when Brookstone announced they were closing their mall stores to concentrate on their 30 airport locations.
What Brookstone didn’t understand is they are in the wants business, not the needs business.
Wants take a lot more work...
Many of your products are wants too.
That means you must have a retail sales process that engages a shopper sufficiently to lower their guard to consider the upgraded model, the extravagant gift, the full outfit.
Consumers guard themselves and crow about how smart they are they didn’t pay full price for something or how they saw something on sale and grabbed it.
But price is not what sells wants; people do.
When you have untrained employees or ones who were subjected to outdated sales materials, they panic when a shopper brings up an objection.
Here are five ways to defuse shopper objections and get the sale:
1. They say, “It costs too much.” Convince them it doesn’t. A young woman told me recently she wouldn’t buy a special dress for $100 because she might only wear it twice. She saw it as essentially costing her $50 each time. Once we understood her reasoning we helped her find one she could wear more often, one she could wear from daytime into nighttime. By changing our dialogue, we emphasized how smart she would feel about her purchase. The key is you have to understand exactly what they are looking for, why they are looking for it, and why they might object to the price of what they are looking at that moment. Then you have to creatively overcome it.
2. They say, “You don’t have the one I’m looking for.” Challenge them. Sometimes associates try to shoehorn on a shopper with an option that doesn't doenough. If they came in for an air fryer that they want, and you don’t have that model, ask them, “Why are you looking at air fryers?” Once you understand, you can show them another model of air fryer or an all-in-one model that also serves as an instant pot and a rice cooker. Once you know all the things the shopper wants to use the item for, then you can close a sale with another product that will do even better.
3. They say, “I have to ask someone.” Turn that remark on its head and ask, “What if that person says do it? Would you do it? And what if they do say No, would you fight them on it?” I had a woman on the fence about buying a pair of exotic cowboy boots. She told her sales associate she had to ask her husband. I simply asked her, “I’m sure you have plenty of expensive items in your closet. What would he tell you?” She paused, laughed, and said, “Take off the tags, I’m wearing them out!” Once you challenge them on it you’ll find their objection was simply a smokescreen, and you won’t believe how easily they convert and you get the sale.
4. They say, “I’m not sure it’s right for me.” Appeal to their ego. “It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure.” They come in wanting the purple one (insert any bright color here) but as they’re about to buy it, they shy away. They second-guess themselves as a million voices go through their head telling them their choice is wrong - that it’s too bold or too attention-grabbing. Contrast a safer choice of a beige one by appealing to their ego. By remembering what they told you and looking at what they are wearing, make comments that bolster their ego; tell them they deserve this item, it is perfect for them. This only works if you've built rapport - otherwise, you come off a phony. The shopper’s ego needs bolstering. Price is never the objection in cases like these. You just need to help them quiet the negative voices in their head so they can do what they truly wanted to do.
5. They say,“You’re out of the one I want.” Many retailers think telling the shopper you can ship it to them is the best way to handle an objection but as a consumer, this can be a letdown. They fear what condition it will arrive in, whether it will fit, or if they’ll still want it. Those may be valid objections but you still have to overcome them. Tell the shopper you can ship it to their home and they can return the item for any reason and with free shipping if they decide they don’t want it. And remember a proactive salesperson doesn’t oversell something they do not have readily available. Customers want to take merchandise home with them that day.
The shopper standing in front of you came into your store wanting to buy something when they left their house to make a special trip. When they voice an objection, don’t take it as an absolute No but rather as a No, I won’t buy it unless…
Let’s be brutally honest here, oftentimes shoppers surface objections at the end of a presentation because the salesperson was too lazy to do their job.
Objections at the end of the sale often mean the employee didn’t bother to fully connect with the shopper to understand what they came to buy and therefore didn’t highlight the relevant benefits during their presentation.
A good sales professional knows to poke holes in the common objections during the sales process. At the same time, they also can poke holes in bad online reviews or misconceptions about a product.
They are overcoming objections before they even happen.
Your team can too.
You can build your team’s confidence and objection handling skills by having them write down any objections they hear about your more expensive products. You’re bound to hear:
What I have now works fine.
This might not be the best one for me.
I need to ask (husband, wife, friend)
Then during your downtime, brainstorm how to proactively deal with those objections using specific products on your sales floor.
Connecting to a shopper takes more than asking “What are you looking for?” or “Do you have a budget?” It takes a sales process like SalesRX.
While some retailers like Brookstone decry declining mall traffic, foot traffic isn’t declining everywhere.
Traffic alone doesn’t determine your success; success is determined by how you and your crew proactively remove common objections during the buying process.
It’s not pushy; dealing with objections helps shoppers purchase what they wanted rather than leave disappointed. Your goal must be to make the sale every time.
More often than not shoppers are looking to purchase something they want, not something they need. That takes more skill, more persistence, and more training.
Instead of looking for one killer closing technique, look for a killer sales process that makes your associates focus on opening their hearts to another human being and understanding why that shopper made the trek to your store in the first place.
Anything less and you’re a gadget store hoping someone finds their own reasons to buy.