One of the best ways to make sales is not by slamming on the accelerator, but by getting your prospect to take their foot off the brakes…

That’s a lesson covered in yesterday’s essay talking about human desires, and it’s a familiar topic if you’re a long-time reader of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

Today, we’ll look at 10 specific reasons your potential clients may be holding their foot down on the brakes, and not hiring you.

This applies in a service business, especially.  However, if you sell products, you’ll find that there’s a ton of overlap here, if you put a tiny bit of thought into it.

And, as a note, I have to give credit to reader and BTMSinsiders member Gary Cooper for my choice to write about this today.

Late last month, I wrote about the three types of service businesses, as covered in the highly-recommended Managing the Professional Services Firm, by David Maister.

Gary acted on my recommendation to buy the book, and, as usual, acting on my recommendations paid off…  😉

When Gary read the book, he got really excited about a Table on page 113 titled “What It Feels Like to Be a Buyer.”

With a strong recommendation you go to the source and buy Maister’s book, I’m going to reproduce his comments here — a list of 10 common objections — with thoughts about how to address each and make more money in your client business.

(Maister’s original text is in bold, followed by my insights and perspectives for each.)

  1. I’m feeling insecure. I’m not sure I know how to detect which of the finalists is the genius, and which is just good. I’ve exhausted my abilities to make technical distinction.

How can you turn this around and get on the prospect’s side?  How can you help them make a good buying decision?  What do they need to know so that they can feel comfortable and secure in whatever buying decision they evenutally make?

I’ve written many times (and taught, in BTMSinsiders, especially the Value-First Funnel Strategy) about how you use education-based marketing to establish buying criteria, and then point those in your favor for qualified prospects.

That’s exactly what you need to do here to quell their insecurity.  Help them make that technical distinction between their options.

  1. I’m feeling threatened. This is my area of responsibility, and even though intellectually I know I need outside expertise, emotionally it’s not comfortable to put my affairs in the hands of others.

Imagine for a moment, a rectangular table.  This table has four chairs, two on one side, and two facing them.

Your prospect is sitting in one of those chairs.  That leaves three chairs left for you to sit in.  One next to them, and two across the table.  Which chair do you choose to reduce the feeling of threat?

Choose the chair next to them.  Show them you’re on their side.  That you’re in this for the win-win.

This is an analogy for the exact selling posture you must take — before, during, and after the sale.  In good business, you’re on your prospect’s and customer’s side.

  1. I’m taking a personal risk. By putting my affairs in the hands of someone else, I risk losing control.

Help your prospect or client feel more involved.  Show them where, in your process, they will rely on your expertise, and where you will rely on their input.  Help them feel that even as they turn to you, that they’re in ultimate control.

Ultimately, if they’re bringing you in as the expert, they need to respect that, and let you perform your Unique Abilities at your highest level.

However, if they’re hiring you, you also have some responsibility to be on their side, and take their input into account.

Think about that table image from the previous point.

  1. I’m impatient. I didn’t call in someone at the first sign of symptoms (or opportunity). I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

In some cases, you can go fast.  In others, you can’t.  Either way, you have to be aware of and respect this experience of wanting results yesterday.

Most good businesses solve the problems that were keeping their prospect up the night before they purchased.  Which means they want results, and they want them fast/soon.

What can you do to recognize that, maybe appease it a bit, and also maintain your control and process that’s needed to get them the result they most want?

(e.g. — If a client hires me to write copy, it can be months before they’re testing the copy.  But in some cases, I can make short-term recommendations that have a major impact, before I write a word.  In fact, that’s what my entire Profit Breakthrough Private Consultation is based on!)

  1. I’m worried. By the very fact of suggesting improvements or changes, these people are going to be implying that I haven’t been doing it right up till now. Are these people going to be on my side?

Memorize this short sentence…

“It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”

I picked that up from studying Jon Benson, widely-credited as the creator of the “Ugly” Video Sales Letter.

It’s a point of transition in the selling process.  You’ve laid into the prospect’s problems and challenges.  You’ve agitated their experience around those problems.

They’re really feeling like something has got to change.

Now, you have to let them off the hook — or they’ll direct all those negative feelings at you.

Find a scapegoat.  Find a reason they’ve never followed your best recommendations.  Give them justification of why what they’ve done up until that point was, at least from their perspective, the best they could do.

But in introducing a new solution, don’t be afraid to put the responsibility on them to change their behavior going forward.

Because, after all, that’s what it’s going to take to get to their desired result.

  1. I’m exposed. Whoever I hire, I’m going to have to reveal some proprietary secrets, not all of which are flattering.  I will have to undress.

Confidentiality, confidentiality, confidentiality.

Be careful who you talk about, and how.

Make sure that when you talk about clients, you do it in a way that’s flattering and positive.

Get permission, even when you want to share the successes.

In general, follow the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Your behavior will be more telling — especially in this regard — than any reassurances you give them.

Let them see (or, not see) how respectfully you treat others’ proprietary secrets, and they’ll know you’ll treat theirs with respect, too.

  1. I’m feeling ignorant, and don’t like the feeling. I don’t know if I’ve got a simple problem or a complex one. I’m not sure I can trust them to be honest about that: it’s in their interest to convince me it’s complex.

Be at least somewhat transparent.  Don’t downplay your client’s problems, but also don’t play them up.

Shoot straight, and with candor.

And, think long-term.

Let’s throw out a few more truisms.

“Life is long.”

“The hands you step on while climbing the ladder are also the ones you’ll need to catch you when you fall.”

“It cost 1/10th as much to sell to a past customer as to get a new one.”

All of these things support the idea that treating a customer well, with honesty, dignity, and respect, will pay off in the long run.

And, it doesn’t suck your soul.  🙂

  1. I’m skeptical. I’ve been burned before by these kinds of people. You get a lot of promises: How do I know whose promise I should buy?

Proof, proof, proof.

In fact, I’ll be releasing a video on this to BTMSinsiders members within the next 24 hours.  (All new training is available for instant access when you have a BTMSinsiders All-Access Pass.)

Rookies think they need to make bigger promises to sell.

Pros know that proof knocks down objections, and makes persuasion much easier.

Don’t make a big claim if you don’t have bigger proof to back it.

And, admit your flaws.  As long as they don’t stand in the way of you delivering the result you promise, it makes you more human, and, importantly, more believable.

  1. I’m concerned that they either can’t or won’t take the time to understand what makes my situation special. They’ll try to sell me what they’ve got rather than what I need.

There are two approaches to this.

The first, which is the standard approach, is to make your service flex to meet your customer.  This can be effective, in many markets.

The second, a much more rare approach, is to position yourself as the ultimate authority and go hard on “take it or leave it.”

This second approach is more controversial, however it can also work really well for who it works for.

If you, for example, have created a proprietary process that truly delivers superior results, you need to have the gumption to stick to that, even when your prospect tries to get you to customize.  But, you have to be 100% clear about this, and be as willing to NOT do business with your prospect as to actually close the deal.

If you’re going to take this second approach, most of your selling needs to be ultra-clear on this.  Here’s what I’ve got.  Here’s why it’s superior.  Here’s who it’s superior for.  And here’s who is NOT a fit.  If you’re not a fit, let’s part ways quick.  If you are, I’ll apply my proprietary process to get you a better result than you’ll get anywhere else.

  1. I’m suspicious. Will they be those typical professionals who are hard to get hold of, who are patronizing, who leave you out of the loop, who befuddle you with jargon, who don’t explain what they’re doing or why, who…, who…, who…?  In short, will these people deal with me in the way I want to be dealt with?

Your best bet?  Don’t be a jerk!

Learn to explain what you do in common language, and go above and beyond to make sure your prospects understand and feel good about it to move forward.

Don’t be aloof.  Don’t be elitist.

There’s a big difference between cockiness and confidence, although they often get confused.

To be cocky is to put on a mask and try to tell the world you have a beautiful face.

To be confident is to embrace your face as beautiful, and not be afraid to show it to the world.

When you’re confident, it’s because you’re making promises and putting out offers you know you can fulfill on.

When you’re cocky, you’re making things up to sell them, making big promises, and only hoping you can deliver.

YES, it can be a fine line.  But the more you move through the world with confidence (and eschew cockiness), the better it is for everyone.

Now, here’s how to use these…

Your very best bet is to internalize these.  They represent the hesitations that all prospects face, especially when it comes to hiring service providers.  To know them well is the first step to creating a situation where the objections will be addressed through who you are and what you offer.

But you can also speak to them specifically, in your sales messaging.

For example, one promo I wrote early in my career repositioned objections as a FAQ, to great effect.  I found a way to speak to them directly.

You could also do the same in emails — you don’t have to bury these in long copy.

But because these are internal thoughts, you might want to find a way to approach them from the side, such as with a story, or directly addressing a client conversation or testimonial that speaks to these feelings.

No matter what you do, don’t hide from these objections.

Your potential client is considering you because they want what you have to offer.  They want to do business with you, otherwise they wouldn’t be wasting your time or theirs.  But they have hesitations they need to address first.

Make it easy for them to get what they want by actually addressing their objections, and making sure the causes of those objections will never rear their ugly head in their interactions with you.

You may be surprised how powerful this is.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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