Responding to sales objections — “phantom objections”


Phantom objections: Sometimes a sales objection seems to  relate to one issue, but in fact that issue is cover for a deeper, "phantom" objection.

For example, a sales objection might seem to focus on price, but  in reality is a phantom objection, disguising the fact that the Prospect does not feel any strong need for what you offer. 

Or it could be a cover story because the person with whom you have been meeting is embarrassed to admit that he or she really doesn't have the level of buying authority they led you to believe. (This is something that you should have explored earlier, but sometimes you don't get the truth, or the whole truth about authority and places in organizational pecking — and decision-making — order.)

How to deal with this?  Sometimes, the simplest approach is to get the prospect talking about what is preventing the sale from taking place. Some methods:

"Tell me, what would it take to make this sale happen?"

— Or, "What could be change to make it more helpful to you?"

— Or, "I'd appreciate your input: If you were in my position, what modifications would you make to the product (pricing, etc.) to make it more useful to an organization like yours?"

Key point: When you encounter what seem to be phantom objections, listen not just to the stated words of the response, but listen through it as well to what the prospect is telling you about the selling points you have failed to make, clearly enough.

It could be that your product already provides something equivalent to the "modifications" he suggests. If so, that points you to an area to develop in more detail–either with this or future prospects.

Or, explore, in a subtle way, whether this phantom sales objection is a cover for the reality that this person does not have authority or budget to make this decision.  One way is to ask, "Is there anyone else who needs to be involved in this decision?" Or, "Who else or what other departments need to be brought into this decision?"  

(Again, those are questions you should have asked earlier, but maybe you did and didn't get  a straight answer then, so ask again if you suspect this person is hiding lack of authority to buy behind some phantom sales objection.)



The content in this post has been adapted from my books, How to Sell Face to Face: Survival Guide, and  Selling 101.    They are available in various e-book and paper editions; see below:

Survival Guide: Order paperback edition via Amazon

Survival Guide: Order e-book as Amazon Kindle (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)

Selling 101 (third edition):  Order e-book as Amazon Kindle   (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)

Order as e-book via Smashwords, available in various formats including PDF, E-pub, and others.