We encounter them all the time: Customer objections. The customer has a point of view that differs from that we wish they would have. Perhaps, they aren’t as interested in the things we want them to be interested in. Perhaps they don’t respond in the way we hope they respond. Perhaps they are asking questions we prefer they didn’t. Perhaps they seem to favor something other than what we would like. Perhaps they simply don’t care.
The customer has “objections.” Millions are spent every year on “objection handling techniques.” We learn how to avoid “objections,” how to “handle” them, how to use the right words to respond, how to manipulate the customer—trying to eliminate the “objection” to get the customer to have the point of view we want.
The word “objection,” is an adversarial word. We watch TV and movies and see lawyers in court “objecting.” “Leading the witness!", "Asked and answered ... Facts not in evidence ... Prejudicial ... ” Lawyers battle with each other, trying to control and shape what the court and jurors hear.
Every scenario—legal, political, social— includes the concept of an 'objection' as an adversarial relationship.
And that extends to our thinking about customer objections. While unstated, we think of them in a way that is adversarial, pitting us against the customer. And this carries over to much of our behavior with/toward customers.
What if we just thought of them as questions the customer might have? What if we encouraged customers to ask lots of questions? What if we recognized that while they may be making a statement or expressing an opinion, that it’s really just a question they have about an issue?
Perhaps they don’t understand; perhaps they simply don’t know; maybe they have heard some other things from other people. Maybe they have a different point of view.
What if rather than trying to manage/overcome objections, we started trying to understand the questions a customer may have? Maybe we would probe for clarity, maybe we might ask why they have a certain opinion or point of view. Our questions may help the customer in their thinking. Or they help us better understand the customer.
Better understanding the customer, why they feel a certain way, where they may be confused enables us to answer those questions in ways that are more meaningful to the customer. Imagine what those conversations look like: They become conversations, rather than verbal ping-pong games. Imagine engaging the customer, collaboratively learning and understanding.
The words and shorthand we use as sellers betray our mindsets and shape our interactions with customers, even unconsciously. Perhaps we should think less about sparring with their objections, and rather having more collaborative discussions.