In which we make the case for more practicing with objections. When I was 9, 10, and 11 years old, I played Little League baseball. I was on the Bisons. Black hats and black socks with itchy white pants and shirts. I played first base and center field. Hours and hours of practice chasing down fly balls and snagging grounders had prepared me

for virtually anything. Which was one of the reasons I played first base as a right hander. I could handle just about any infielder throw toward first.

At the plate, however, it was a different matter. I was not embarrassing, just not completely dependable. And of all the pitchers I faced, I can remember only one. Jimmy. He was H U G E for his age. Outweighed me by 50 pounds. He made the 46 foot distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate look like 20 feet. He threw the ball HARD and, like the rest of us, with more speed than control. I could barely see the stuff he was throwing, never mind get around on the ball or duck. Long story short, I felt terrified to step into the batter’s box when he was on the mound. Not pant-wetting, stomach-evacuating terrified. Just your garden variety bowling ball in the gut terror that started to build about five guys before it was my turn to hit.

Which is how many of us experience sales objections from time to time. We know that hard-throwing prospects and customers can sling stuff we can’t see or duck away from. And, because the game is "life" and we don’t like to be humiliated, we’re familiar with bowling ball in the gut.

So sales reps or their sales managers say, "We need tips for handling objections."

WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. Not “tips,” any more than “tips” would have helped me hit Little League Jimmy’s pitches. If my coach had called to me as I stepped to the plate, "Open your stance," he would not have been much to help me. Although opening my stance would have helped me get around on the ball faster, the real problem wasn’t my stance. It was my head. Because I knew, just as I could see Jimmy knew, that I had about as much chance of hitting one of his pitches as I did throwing out a freight train at third base.

What I needed was…. strategies – how to anticipate what he might throw (assuming HE knew what he might throw). And practice. Lots of it. Starting with slower pitches and building up to pitches so fast that Jimmy’s would have looked like water melons any twerp could hit. So I could just smash the salt out of any ball he threw.

So, strategies and practice working with questions and objections, including:

1) How do they throw? Identify the typical objections, questions, or concerns our clients could throw at different points in our sales conversations. Action item: List typical questions and objections and why clients and prospects raise them.

2) How do we swing? What are our responses? How do we influence the frequency or the types of objections or questions we hear? How do we help clients look at alternatives, think about options, and see the value of our ideas and our service? Action item: For each typical objection, outline strategies and responses – questions, statements, or changes in conversation flow.

3) How much do we practice? In my Little League career I took 50 or more times fielding practice than I did batting practice. Similarly, sales people typically practice "pitching" practice more than they practice asking questions or working with objections. Action item: Rehearse probing, questioning, and objection strategies every day, like taking batting practice.

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