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Overcoming common objections

Ruth Larkin shares her expertise on how to overcome common objections from brides with conflict resolution.

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Ruth Larkin’s professional career has focused on developing, managing and enhancing sales performance and business strategy across multiple industries internationally. Here she shares her thoughts on how to overcome common objections with great real life examples.

In all walks of business and life, things can simply just go wrong and dealing with objections and issues is part of the job. Similarly, negotiations are just part of the natural flow of sales. Whether it is closing a sale, solving a problem, or addressing an issue, the most important thing is to never shy away from dealing with objections or negotiations head on. The longer something escalates or remains unaddressed, the more irritated a customer with a problem will be, or the more reduced the chance of closing the sale.

Normally with problems the most important thing is to make the customer feel heard. You must make it clear that you understand and appreciate their frustrations, disappointment, and objections. Whilst you can play down the gravity of a situation by presenting solutions and options, never play down a customer’s feelings towards it. Have several phrases in your tool kit to help you start on the right foot in calming the situation. By having these phrases to hand, it also gives you a moment to process and assess the situation. Try phrases like ‘I fully appreciate your concerns…’, or ‘I completely understand your point of view...’, or ‘I get exactly where you are coming from…’. It immediately shows the customer you are listening and understand the problem, and now you can focus on solving it, together.

Listening is so important, the golden rule is you have two ears and one mouth and in sales you should use them in that ratio, listen to the problem. Sometimes letting the customer get the issue off her chest can in itself resolve an issue or objection!

Always remember, with obstacles and issues, the main priority is all about solving the problem.

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Problem: A bride comes back to the store to pick up her gown and her measurements have changed

Avoid all judgement and remember that this bride probably feels like her dream wedding day is slipping away and is already disappointed enough. Re-assure her that these things happen and that you deal with things like this all the time, it’s not a major concern. Depending on time, can she afford to wait another few weeks before alterations, and if not, consider other alteration options, can the dress be taken in or let out, a new panel added, or removed, or a corset put in to replace a zipper? It is also so important to have taken her measurements and put them on the order form so that when something like this does happen you have it on record that the dress was measured correctly.

Problem: A bride says yes to the dress but then on consideration in the current climate thinks it’s too expensive after the cancellation period has passed.

Remove the embarrassment and upset of the bride by empathising with regards to the current situation. If you are not in a position to cancel it, explain instead that while it is past the cancellation period and can’t be cancelled, you can absolutely find a way to help her. Try offering instead a much smaller weekly payment plan for the dress that helps her to take the pressure of her paying the balance at the end away, and helps her to make smaller instalments that still lets her walk down the aisle in her dream dress.

Problem: A bride gets upset that due to Covid restrictions she can’t have her bridal party and family in store with her.

Acknowledge how different a space it is at present and that it is probably not how she envisaged it. Remind her of what a celebration it will be on her wedding day when they can all celebrate together. Offer a solution and invite her party and family to join digitally through a WhatsApp or zoom call when she is in the different dresses. Turn something disappointing into something quite memorable.

Problem: What if the wedding is postponed due to Covid?

Provide reassurance that so many brides have been in the same position. Acknowledge that it is a big decision to make, but remind her that with new vaccines, and progression we are all hoping that 2021 is going to see us all enjoying celebrations again together. Raise the point about how the gown makes her feel, look, and help her envisage her wedding day – regardless of whether it is delayed or not, help her to see that no other gown will replace that ‘feeling’.

When preparing your team to deal with objections and issues, the most important thing is to empower them with knowledge and confidence. Make sure they know your standard terms and conditions but also basic consumer rights and regulations. Focus on always including some of the opening statements mentioned above in their training to help start them off in conversation and make sure they know who to go to if an issue escalates beyond their control. The number one rule is if you don’t have the answer, don’t answer and find out! Giving incorrect information will only exasperate a situation. The best way to approach any issue, objection or negotiation is to consider at the very start, what is the outcome you are looking for, and work towards that.

The three things you shouldn’t do:

1. Don’t antagonise the situation – understand and appreciate the customers frustrations or concerns. What might seem small to you, could be something with substantial consequences or impact for your customer.

2. Never assume you know the whole picture – you don’t! There are always other influencing factors at play, the best you can try to do is pick up on body language, information you’re told and reactions to try to best respond.

3. Never under-estimate the helpful approach. A negative situation can evolve into one of trust and appreciation when handled correctly. Using the right language, body behaviour, and simply listening can de-escalate a situation and change the dynamics. Remember, honey is better than vinegar in negotiations or handling obstacles.

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