The Secret Sauce to Handling Objections
As entrepreneurs, dealing with objections can be really tough. Clients or prospects challenge us with: ‘Why are your fees so high?’ or ‘I don’t like these payment terms.’ We want to maintain our boundaries, but we don’t want to lose their business either! Empathy is called a ‘soft skill’ but it has huge impact.
Case in point:
There’s a cute gift shop in my neighbourhood that I used to visit to buy something or other, nearly every month.
Now as every Canadian knows, on the back of books, cards and all printed materials that come from the States, there are two prices. One for buyers in the US and one for Canadians. The Canadian price is about 30% higher. None of us minded until the dollar hit par.
Flash back three years. I was at the counter buying a few cards from the owner of the gift shop.
Me: Hey, the Canadian price is still 30% higher on the back of these cards.
Shop Owner: Yup.
Me: But our dollar is at par.
Shop Owner: Uh-huh.
Me: Okay, I’d like to pay the American price then.
Shop Owner: Can’t do that.
Me: Well what if I came back with American cash?
Shop Owner: Nope, you’d still have to pay the Canadian price.
Me: That hardly seems fair.
Shop Owner: It’s my shop and I can charge what I want.
I was so shocked that I was rendered speechless.
I’d spent 20 minutes picking out the cards, so I bought them and left. But in the three years since, I’ve shopped there only once, instead of the 30 or 40 times I would have gone. That’s a lot of lost business!
Had he responded with empathy, he’d still have those sales. He could have said:
‘I know, that is frustrating, especially with the dollar at par. It’s really tough for retailers, too. We get dinged at the border with a hefty Duty charge so there’s not much difference in the price for us. We want to keep you happy! I can’t change the price, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your business, and I hope you keep shopping here.’
Reacting defensively is a hard-wired biological response when we’re under attack. And that’s what an objection can feel like, when it’s about our livelihood. Go easy on yourself when you don’t respond in the best way. Empathy is a muscle that gets stronger with practice.
Make a list of your clients’ three most common objections and write out some empathetic responses. Say them out loud a few times. For great results, work with a friend or a coach who will lob those objections at you as a no-risk way to practice and hone your skills.
A little empathy goes a long way to increasing loyalty and sales.
Empathy is a bottom-line skill!