How many times have you asked a prospect to meet with you and they simply reply, “I’m busy, call me in a few weeks.” Or, perhaps you’ve taken hours to prepare customized investment and insurance recommendations, explained all the features and benefits, and just when you believe your client/prospect fully understands you ask for the order only to hear them say, “Let me think about it.”
If you have been in the financial services industry for any length of time, you may have heard these types of objections more often than you care to remember. By now you may have realized that some prospects won’t tell you the complete truth, that they aren’t really that busy, or that they don’t really need to think about it, instead they are simply giving you a “smoke screen” objection.
Understanding the “Smoke Screen” Objection
The “smoke screen” objection is a polite excuse people use when they don’t want to make a buying decision with the classic example of the aforementioned, “I need to think about it.” The reality is, they probably don’t need to think about it, but instead have not admitted their real concern, which often times is not discussed because they do not want to offend you, admit the concern to you or themselves, or address the concern at all.
The key to getting past their smoke screen and to their core objection is to acknowledge it with a neutral statement such as: “In addition to (smoke screen objection) what else is holding you back?” After their reply, if you are still not sure you have reached their core objection simply repeat the process again. Remember that your real goal is not to overcome this specific objection, but to find out what their core objection is so that you can begin to overcome it.
Here’s a three-step process to uncovering the smoke screen objection using the example “I need to think about it.”
Step 1: Listen, Evaluate and Empathize
If the objection seems vague, it may be an indication they are masking their real objection. At this point, it is important to test your theory.
Adviser: “I can understand that. This is a big decision.”
Step 2: Question the Validity of the Objection
Adviser: “What is it that you need to think about first?”
Prospect: “I guess I need to think about the cost. It seems kind of expensive.”
Step 3: Is This the Only Objection?
You must question if there are any other objections or if this is the only one. That way you can begin the process of overcoming their core objection.
Adviser: “In addition to the cost, is there anything else holding you back?”
Prospect: “No, not really, it just seems kind of expensive.”
If you have done the preceding steps properly, the prospect is now admitting their real objection, taking you out of the endless loop of excuses. You have now cleared the air and can move forward to face the real objection head on. I discuss this further in a white paper titled “Handling Objections: Preparing for the Inevitable.” To receive a copy of the white paper, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions Inc.
Daniel C. Finley
St. Paul, Minn.