Dealing with Third-party Objections
I frequently write articles on fairly broad business topics. This can be quite helpful when looking at the big picture but sometimes it is better to talk about one subject and focus on training in that specific area. I am going to dedicate this article to overcoming third-party objections.
What is a third-party objection? It is a situation where a person who appears to make the decision is someone you cannot talk with. A husband, wife, boss, architect, property owner or some other person in a position of authority is involved in the decision. Most of us want to be nice guys and do not want to appear pushy. This can get in the way of our effectively dealing with this type of decision.
I would like to emphasize that selling is an acquired skill, not a God-given talent. Selling is an issue of communication. You have something to offer, and as a professional, it is your job to do the best you can to communicate that information. No one asked you to be a contractor. Just like a doctor, your profession is not just about fixing the problem but also about communicating what is best for your patient. Third-party objections are merely a little bump in the road of communication, not a dead end.
You are sitting in Mrs. Jones’ living room. The presentation has gone fairly well. In fact, the two of you were chit-chatting and she was even flirting with you pretty aggressively. You think you have the sale in the bag and are actually more worried about escaping her advances. When it comes time to close the deal, Mrs. Jones suddenly says she must check with her husband. This same lady who was playing footsie with you under the table now has a husband. What is this all about?
Maybe you have been talking with the property manager and he seems delighted with the proposal you put together. He likes your product, approach and details. The property manager openly confesses that you have done a much better job of identifying job problems and what is needed to take care of things. He likes how you are willing to work within his schedule and time frame. Everything looks great. You present the proposal, price and all. Suddenly the project manager says that he must talk to the building owner because he is not in a position to make the decision. Up until now, he was your buddy and seemed to have all the power in the world.
Test the ObjectionBoth of these situations are classic examples of third-party objections. Most of us want to be polite, respect the person we have been talking with and not be pushy. So letting them talk with the person in charge seems like the right thing to do, but is it?
There are two kinds of objections: true and false. False objections are little white lies or convenient ways of not getting into what the real issues are. Third-party objections can be false issues with the deal killer hiding behind this third-party smokescreen. There is no way to know the truth unless you test the objection for validity.
Mrs. Jones says, “I have to talk to my husband.” What do you do next? First, understand that until this point, Mrs. Jones is happy with you. This situation is not nearly as frightening as it appears. Mrs. Jones wants you to do the job. You know you will do a good job, so what is wrong with pursing things? Maybe helping Mrs. Jones out will be a good thing.
Don’t run. Rather, put your game face on and try to assist Mrs. Jones in making sure you get the job. Gently lean forward and talk with her. Start by testing to see if she has any other concerns. A simple statement like, “Mrs. Jones, I can appreciate that you would like to talk with your husband. In a situation like this, I would probably want to talk to my wife. Let me ask you this: Up until this point, I have not met your husband and it seems like the two of us will be working together. I want to make sure everything we have discussed is all right with you. At this point, if it were up to you, would you use our company to do the job?”
The above approach is not pushy. You are simply flushing out the real problem. Mrs. Jones might say she would like you to do the work and now you have a chance to help her sell her husband on your services. Or she might say something like, “What was your price again?” or “Have you done a similar job?” Both of these are examples of how a real objection can come out. At this point, you would discuss these points until she is comfortable and then bring the conversation to a close again. She may still want to talk with her husband but you will have a much greater chance of getting the job. Don’t pressure people but make sure you flush out what the real issues are.
You can take a similar approach with almost any third party. Remember: If the person wants you to do the job, you are helping them. If they do not want you to get the job, they are misleading you anyway, so you should not feel so guilty about asking more questions. Either way, what you are doing is all right. You are merely trying to do a better job of communicating and solving your customers’ problems. Don’t wimp out. Hang in there and make sure you are dealing with the real objection and doing the best job you can to communicate with your customers.