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Sales Quiz: Can You Save This Cold Call?

Some sales objections are more difficult to handle than others. Here's one that's really got a Sales Machine reader stumped. It stumped me, too, so I forwarded it to sales uber-guru Barry Rhein, who provided the best way to answer it. Can you guess the Barry's response?
First, here's the email:

I just discovered your articles, and I'm hoping you can help me. I sell multifunction copiers for a small business. Some copiers are purchased, but the majority in the industry seem to be leased for 3 to 5 yr periods. These leases are impossible to break without payiing them in full and possibly incurring a penalty.
I seem to get the "We're already leasing" and either "just signed within last year" or "have 2 to 3 yrs to go" objections quite often. My boss seems to think that we sales reps are getting this objection too often, and that the customers are therefore snowing us. Of course, I don't think I can call them a liar when they say it.
Am I missing something? Do I simply move on to the next suspect, or do I try to pursue? How do I know to what extent the customers are being truthful? And how do I prevent the snow-job (if any) in the first place?
SCENARIO: You're selling copiers and the customer says something like "we have 2-3 years to go on our lease."

CLICK for the correct answer »

The correct answer is: #4.
The key to making sure this is a real opportunity is to keep the conversation going. You need to keep the customer on the line so that you can confirm if there really is a pre-existing lease and then position yourself for a future sale, whether or not the lease exists. So that's what your response needs to do -- keep the conversation alive for a while longer.

With that in mind, here are the lousy responses:

  • #1: "Thanks for your time, please keep us in mind for your future needs." This is essentially giving up. The conversation is over and you'll never know whether it was a real opportunity or not.
  • #2: "Do you think you will have any other needs before then?" This is a closed question and allows the customer to easily reply 'no.' At that point, the conversation is pretty much over because the customer is probably going to simply hang up. Oops!
  • #3: "Can I call you back before the lease is up?" This is also a closed question and gives the customer the ability to say "Sure, please do" and once again the now you have given the customer the ammunition to shut the conversation down and get off the phone.
  • #5: "Do you know of any other departments that might need a copier?" Another closed question! It gives the customer the perfect reason to say "no, but let me check and if I do, I can get back to you." Again, you are giving the customer the perfect opening to end the engagement.
Only #4 is an open question creates the opportunity for the customer to share what might be on their mind. Please note that you ARE NOT promising that you can get them out of the lease! You're simply keeping the conversation going and finding out whether they are a qualified lead or truly a dead end.

Barry also notes that #4 should be preceded by a statement like "No problem" which lets the customer know that you heard them and respect their situation. He also recommends having multiple responses so that you can use the one that feels right under the circumstances. Here are a couple of examples:

  • "No problem. Let's say that you were able to get out of the lease, what would you ideally like to change with your existing copiers?"
  • "No problem. Let's say that the lease could be dealt with, what would make your life easier in a new copier?"
Pretty cool, eh? And a special thanks to Barry for sharing the benefit of his wisdom. (Check out this afternoon's post for MORE of Barry's unique brand of sales wisdom.)
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