In my last article I left you with the scenario where a customer has objected to your suggested travel solution of a week in the Venice Hilton, by claiming that it was not right because it wasn't on the main island. Now, it might well be that this customer is telling no more than the truth and so, if you come up with a similar kind of hotel on the main island then that will be acceptable and you can proceed. Obviously, when you were investigating your customer's needs you didn't find out that a hotel on the main island was what was needed.

But you might find an alternative hotel – maybe the Bauer – and then discover that this, too, is apparently not what your customer wants and you get the objection, "Ah, but it's bit near to St Mark's Square – it's so noisy there." So you have another go and suggest the Centurion Palace. And what happens? You get another objection "Ah yes, but it doesn't have an outdoor pool."

People tell lies! 
After a few attempts to find a suitable alternative it's all too easy to give up and send your customer away with a few brochures and you never see him or her again.

And this happens because people tell lies. Rather than admitting the real reason why they don't want the product you have offered they tell a lie – or in sales jargon, they "raise a false objection".

And why do they do that? Almost always it's because they are ashamed to tell you the real reason why they don't want your offer. And often – although not always – it's because what you have offered is too expensive, and they don't care to say so. And they will object away hoping that you'll come up with something that meets their budget.

False objections almost invariably arise because you have not found out your customer's real needs. Possibly when you asked about budget you received the answer, "Oh, we want something reasonable." And since you can't know what "reasonable" is to another person, you put your own, incorrect, interpretation on the term.

What's wrong with my offer?
That, of course, is what you need to find out. You can't find a suitable alternative for your customer unless you find out what really is wrong with the product you have offered. Of course, just asking what's wrong might not get you a truthful answer so you need to be a bit cunning and ask your question differently. And there are a couple of easy ways that you can do this.

Firstly you can set the objection aside by asking something like: "Well apart from the location, how is the hotel otherwise?" If the problem is really with the location then the customer will tell you that. But if it's really the price and not the location then your customer will have to admit this and you can then ask again what the customer's budget is, and try to find something to match it.

Or you can use a hypothetical alternative – which means that you suggest an alternative but don't offer it. Like this. "OK. What if I find a hotel that's on the main island – same category, same facilities and same kind of price – how would that do?" Again, if the first hotel you suggested is right in every respect apart from its location, then your customer will say so and agree that you can go ahead. But again, if it's really the price then he or she will be forced to admit the fact and you will need to find out what kind of price is acceptable.

For more information about this, or any other aspect of training, contact Richard English on 01403-710371 or email

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