Welcome to Smart Tips, a monthly ASHI Reporter feature written by one of North America’s most successful home inspection firms, Carson Dunlop & Associates. Each article will provide approaches to strategic business growth that have been field-tested for success by some of the most experienced home inspectors in North America. Whether it’s sales and advertising strategies, tips on making your business more customer-centric or how to evaluate public relations opportunities, our goal is to stimulate your interest to work on your business rather than just in it.
Last month, we explored the Law of Six, which is a concept that suggests that a potential client can think of no more than six objections to your service. This month, we will look at a few approaches to handling objections:
Feel, felt, found technique
One technique for handling virtually any objection is called the feel, felt, found technique. It goes like this:Your prospect (agent, manager, homebuyer, lawyer) indicates that he or she doesn’t want to use you because of objection “X.”
Your answer is, “I understand why you feel that way. Many of my happy clients felt that way initially, too, but they found that … ”
And here’s where you explain some of the benefits that might convince the prospect to proceed.
This technique validates the objection rather than dismisses it. It also makes prospects feel smart because others felt the same way. After you have told prospects their concern is valid and shared by others, they relax a little. They will then be more receptive to the solution, especially since it is presented as an indirect testimonial: “It’s not me saying this; it’s what other clients have found.”
This technique has the benefit of being simple, and you can use it for any objection. If you have it at your fingertips, you can pull it out when you hear an objection you were not prepared for. At least you will have ten seconds to think of an answer.
A hot button is the one thing that is most important to your prospect. If you can identify your prospect’s hot button, you’re as good as there.
For example, a real estate agent may lament to you that all she wants is for home inspectors to be “even-keeled.” She doesn’t care what problems are identified during the inspection, as long as the inspector keeps them in perspective.
You now have your hot button.
During your presentation, you come up with half a dozen different ways that you “keep an even keel.” For example, you present instances of your good bedside manner, how you help clients keep things in perspective, your down-to-earth style and your balanced approach. Forget about all the other benefits of your service and work the hot button.
Offering proof is a good way to diminish someone’s objection.
Here’s an example: If you are on the phone with a prospect who thinks your fee is too high, as we noted earlier, you should agree with the prospect that you
are more expensive and ask if you can explain why.
Once you have elaborated on the benefits of your service, you can add, “You can see that while we are more expensive than some other inspection companies, we offer more value. Furthermore, we are only $25 more expensive than other professional home inspection companies. My three main competitors charge X, Y and Z.” This last piece of information is the proof. You are offering specific data. Even better, you could fax your competitor’s price schedule. Some people respond well to concrete information like this.
Another example of concrete proof is the testimonial. This works for both prospective clients and real estate agents. If you can get a client to write you a testimonial about how great your inspections are, you can pull out the letter as an answer to an objection.
Feel, felt, found revisited
You can use the “feel, felt, found” technique in conjunction with a testimonial letter. “I understand how you feel. Most of the agents that are referring business to me felt that way, too, but they found that my client-handling skills were better than they’d ever seen. In fact, they are so happy with my skills that I get letters like this.” Then you pull out a testimonial letter that articulates how well you handled a difficult situation. This is a lot more powerful that simply saying, “Relax, I know how to handle my clients.”
A Web site is a great tool for presenting testimonials. The more credible the testimonial, the more valuable. If possible, get permission to use the person’s name rather than initials. To add another dimension and make the testimonial even more credible, include a photo of the person offering the testimonial. You will have to ask permission, of course.
Think of the objection simply as a request for clarification or more information about your service. If the prospect is objecting to something, it means they are interested in your service. It sounds strange, but you have managed to strike a chord and now have the opportunity to respond. Until the benefits of your service are clear to the prospect, there will always be doubt. There can’t be any obstacles in your prospect’s mind before you can proceed with closing the sale.
This article is based on content from “Building Your Home Inspection Business – A guide to marketing, sales, advertising, and public relations,” authored by Carson Dunlop and published by Dearborn Home Inspection. Carson Dunlop also authors the Home Reference Book, Essentials of Home Inspection, the Illustrated Home and most recently, HORIZON, a unique Web-based reporting system.
See www.carsondunlop.com or www.dearbornhomeinspection.com for more information.