In my last article, we started talking about how to view objections and what to do to be in a position to resolve them. We talked about viewing them as questions and concerns versus objections. We also talked about the importance of creating an environment in which your customer is willing to share their questions and concerns.
Your goal is to help facilitate a mutually beneficial solution instead of trying to win a battle, prove you’re right, or discount the merits of the position or feelings of the other person. If you can make them feel as though you honor their position, it gives you a great chance to find a place that you can meet and both feel happy with the outcome. This to me is far more powerful than trying to overcome objections, negotiate or trying to paint someone into a corner to try and close the sale.
I developed a 4 step process for addressing conflicts questions and concerns. The acronym for the process is LACE. I’m going to walk through a portion of the first two steps in this blog. I have found this process to be much more powerful than traditional objection handling methodologies and much more successful for helping to close sales.
This process was borne from a Mediation Training I took from a friend of mine. He puts on workshops for UCLA and UC Irvine and his practice focuses on divorce mediation. I referred to him in an earlier blog as it’s also how I came to defining my sales process as collaborative. The “A” in this process directly ties back to one of the things he said he did in his divorce mediation proceedings.
One spouse gets to talk first and fully share. They get to do so uninterrupted. This gives them a chance to get everything off their chest and the other needs to listen. This gave me an idea for my process that I personally have found more effective than any others I’ve learned over the years for resolving questions and concerns. I found the LACE acronym not only easy to remember, it fits since it’s a more gentle process.
Let’s start with the “L”. “L” stands for “Listen to their questions and concerns.” This may seem pretty obvious. Of course you want to hear what they have to say. Our tendency in many cases though is to interrupt and not fully listen. As soon as they start sharing many of us will want to immediately respond and answer or address their question or concern. There can be any numbers of reasons we don’t fully listen or interrupt. It can be anything from we want to solve their problem, show them their concern doesn’t have merit, or, if they’re angry, try and calm them down. “If they’d just stop talking, I can solve this or show them their question or concern isn’t a big deal or that they’re wrong”.
The challenge with this stage of the process is once you’ve actually gotten them to open up and share, you need to just listen. You need to fully listen. You need to do so in silence. Give them a chance to air their question or concern. You also need to pay attention to what’s being said and what’s not being said. What non-verbal cues are present? What do you notice about their body language? The tone of their voice? They are giving you a lot of information if you give yourself the chance to fully hear and see what is going on.
Now comes the toughest part. I ask people what they think the “A” stands for. I’m not sure if anyone has ever fully guessed what it is. The most common response is “Answer their question.” That isn’t the next step. Not in my mind or in my process. I believe it is the key step to “overcoming objections”, addressing questions and concerns and not only closing more sales but more profitable sales.
In the next blog, I’ll share what the “A” is and how you apply it. If you can’t wait, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you more information on the process.