Chances are that you hear the same concerns from prospects and clients over and over again. Questions or comments such as:
- “Aren’t mutual funds risky? “
- “I already have $100K in life insurance, and that should be enough for my family, right?”
- “I’m concerned about the direction of interest rates.”
- “What is an option?”
Or, how about these standards lines when you’re prospecting?
- "I already have an agent/banker/broker.”
- "The market is too high.”
- "Insurance is too expensive.”
- "I need to talk to my spouse/accountant/partner.”
There are probably a dozen or so questions or comments that you hear all of the time that you’re sick and tired of answering. The chances are that you have a quick, prepared response to what many sales training courses would categorize as stalls and objections. You probably even learned a series of prepared responses to overcome them, or you developed a series of standard responses because you’ve heard the question or comment so many times before that you can give the answer in your sleep.
But using your automatic or prepared responses is a huge mistake — especially if you give a quick response to their question or concern.
Here’s the problem. You quickly give the standard answer because you’ve heard it all before. You’ve forgotten that this is probably the first time they asked the question, made the comment or expressed what could be a legitimate concern.
We’ve conducted hundreds of demonstrations over the years and proven that if you fail to follow one of the approaches provided below, the quick response actually acts as a mental “slap in the face” to the person who asked the question or expressed the concern. Even when we tell people ahead of time that we’re not going to acknowledge and merely respond to their answer/concern, they report that an unconscious, negative response immediately occurs in their body and they feel as if “you don’t care,” “are just giving a rote answer,” “look down on them,” “are negative towards them,” etc.
In addition, other listeners in the audience who know an experiment is being conducted — and who actually know the experiment — will have negative responses to the answer. Can you imagine what would happen to a group or to an individual if they were repeatedly mentally slapped in the face each time they, or someone in their group, opened their mouth? The person answering the question, of course, has no idea they are regularly insulting these people, and thereby sabotaging the discussion.
The solution to the problem is simple: acknowledge the other person’s question or concern using any of the techniques below. The difference in results is astounding.
How to acknowledge
The three acknowledging techniques provided here should get you through most situations.
1. Repeat or paraphrase what the person said to verify your understanding. “You’re concerned about rising inflation, is that right?”
2. Legitimize their concern. "I can understand your concern/question."
3. Probe for additional information. "Could you explain that more fully?"
There are many variations to each of the above that can be use. You want to use different ways of acknowledging and different phrases to acknowledge, otherwise you could sound robotic. Remember that your facial and/or tonal expressions also play a part.
Do yourself a favor
Since failure to acknowledge is an unconscious, habitual response for most people, tell a few friends and associates about this technique and ask them to pay attention to your speech patterns. If you are one of those who doesn’t regularly acknowledge others, they will probably tell you immediately.
This is important information. While friends and family may accept such brashness, most others won’t. Instead, they would likely think you insensitive and uncaring, and avoid you, which could be an expensive proposition.