Sales Training: How to Handle Objections

About Sean Ream

Sean Ream is the Director of Sales for the Major League Soccer National Sales Center (NSC). At NSC, Sean is responsible for recruitment, training, and placement of top ticket sales talent within the league. He has spent over three years in a leadership capacity with the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes as the Senior Director of Ticket Sales and Manager of Group Sales. Here he contributed strategic input and oversight over the full season, partial plan, and group sales efforts of the sales staff. Prior to joining the Coyotes organization, Sean also functioned in leadership capacity with the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and with the Bowie Baysox (AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles). Currently, Sean resides in Minneapolis with his wife Karen and is a proud graduate of Penn State University.

Handling Objections

How often do you hear the proud statement from a sales representative, “I just had a great conversation, they are definitely going to buy.”  A natural response from the manager usually is, “What are his/her concerns?”   And then comes the answer you don’t want to hear.  “They don’t have any.  They just want to look the information over first.”

How do managers eliminate these conversations?  How do we not only handle the stalls and objections, but seek them out?  Younger salespeople typically avoid objections because they aren’t fully prepared to handle them.

Coupling urgency techniques and preempting objections before they become an issue is a crucial step to shortening the sales cycle, which gives the salesperson more time to find that next client.

How should objections be handled? Let’s line up all of the objections so we know what we are working with.

  1. Identify the stall or objection,
  2. Ask for and isolate all roadblocks, and
  3. Gain a commitment from the customer pending a solution to all of their concerns.

As veterans in the sales process we understand that drawing out objections is a natural part of the sales process.  Yet, one challenge I have faced as a manager/trainer is how to impart confidence and excitement to attack the hoops customers make us jump through.

At the Major League Soccer National Sales Center, we have built a library of drills to battle this challenge.  Here are a couple of favorites you might want to add to your arsenal.

Objection Rolodex Workshop       

Trainees begin with a standard issue Objection Rolodex (see picture below).  Start by asking the trainees to whiteboard all objections heard on the phones, no matter how crazy they may seem.   Once all roadblocks to a potential sale are exhausted, the class enters these objections on the top of an index card within the rolodex.imageimage

Take the top two or three objections and ask the class to contribute or develop their best rebuttals.  Responses are recorded on the back of the corresponding index card.

The real power of this exercise lies within the freedom to think creatively with no pressure and to build off of teammates’ ideas.  Perhaps you can award a prize for the best new rebuttal.

Running this exercise each month brings recent objections to the forefront and salespeople can share rebuttals that are working.  The Rolodex then becomes an updated resource to review and share throughout a sales career.  Documenting great responses ensures they are habit-forming and never lost.

Objection Flip Cup 

We repurposed a favorite college drinking game, flip cup, utilizing root beer or water for this game.  (Google if unfamiliar.)

The catch is that a common objection is entered on the bottom of the cup.  Once the root beer is consumed, the trainee reads the bottom to find the objection.  Before attempting to flip, the person directly to the right must provide a rebuttal to the objection.  If the cup does not land on its top, the partner must reply with another rebuttal.  This continues until the cup is flipped on its top.  The process begins again with the next teammate and progresses down the line.   It’s a race!

Managers can stand behind the trainees as a judge.  Was the rebuttal truly a response that could handle that particular objection?  We also videotape these games for review on a debrief.  Practice and repetition helps make these rebuttals commonplace on the phone.

Our younger sales staff loves this game.  I wonder why?  More importantly, it forces your partner to develop a new rebuttal in a very short amount of time.  Especially if you have a teammate who is as bad at flip cup as I am.

Improvisational Comedy Exercises

Improv forces participants to listen, accept all ideas given to them by their partners, and react in a way that moves the scene or conversation forward.

In the clip, “What’s in the box?”  we explain the way the exercise can be completed and how it relates back to ticket sales.  Please contact us if you would like more information on this exercise.  We are happy to provide tips to get the most out of these drills from a facilitation standpoint.

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