Addressing Client Concerns
How you address client concerns will have a powerful impact on your overall success in business. In many cases, once concerns are addressed, the sale is made. You can go straight to asking for their approval on your paperwork. The foundation of addressing client concerns is a simple, six-step process that I’ve taught for many years. Here are those six steps:
Step #1: Hear Them Out
Let the client talk and talk and talk until you know as much as they do about their concern. If you try to address the concern before hearing all of what they have to say, you may end up answering a concern they don’t feel is all that important and/or bring up another concern they hadn’t even thought of.
I’m sure you’ve had clients who tend to ramble when bringing up concerns. They may begin going in one direction with a concern, but end up somewhere else. You see, raising concerns is a defense mechanism for them. They react to the urge to go ahead with a decision by slowing things down with a concern. So, let them get it all out before attempting to address any point they’ve raised.
I’ve had clients who talked themselves right through and out of their initial concern. I didn't have to address it at all.
If you feel they’re not telling you everything, encourage them to talk with phrases such as, “I see. Is there anything else that concerns you about this decision?” or “What concerns do you have about this?” You want to know all the bad stuff, all the reasons for hesitation they have before you move on. If you don’t, you may find yourself back at this point again with this client.
Step #2: Feed it Back
Simply re-state the concern in your own words. “So your concern, John, is…” This accomplishes two things. First, you demonstrate that you really listened to the client. Second, you have the opportunity to get confirmation from them that you understand their concern. Having someone understand you makes you feel closer to him or her. It creates a bond or common ground of sorts. It warms them up to accepting your advice on the subject at hand.
Step #3: Question the Importance of the Concern
This step can be tricky if not handled properly. You must gently ask if this concern would keep them from making the decision to go ahead if it cannot be overcome. It could be this concern is not all that important and the client will dismiss it when they consider whether or not it would keep them from owning the benefits of your product or service. If it would stop the sale, you then proceed to Step #4.
accepting your advice on the subject at hand.
Step #4: Answer the Concern
Depending on the concern, you may be able to do this quickly or you may have to do a little research on behalf of the client. Either way, you need to demonstrate, above all else, a sincere desire to help them. You’re working for them at this point. You’re an industry expert—a research consultant at their disposal. This could also be a good time to ensure them that you wouldn’t want them to make a decision without having all the facts, or a decision that might not be exactly right for them.
In answering the concern, you must consider your answer like a close. You have to appeal to their emotions, yet be prepared to help them rationalize the decision to go ahead with logic. You’re helping them to rationalize both the importance of the concern and the value of your answer.
Step #5: Confirm the Answer
Once you see signs that they’re agreeable to your answer and that it makes sense to them, make a simple statement of that fact. You could say, “That makes sense, doesn’t it?” If they agree, the concern is now behind you. If they show any hesitation at all, you must go back to Step #4 and come up with a better answer.
If you feel there’s more they haven’t told you, warmly ask, “Obviously, there’s a reason for your continued hesitation. Would you mind sharing it with me?” It could be they’ve just come up with another concern and are uncomfortable telling you since they already told you above that it was their real final concern. Always, always give your potential clients opportunities to save face if you see that they’re feeling hesitant or uncomfortable in any way.
Step #6: Change Gears
Once the concern has been satisfactorily addressed, it’s time to move on. The simplest method I’ve ever used is the phrase, “By the way…” Then, I move onto the next area of discussion, changing gears so-to-speak to move on to the close or the next decision that must be made before closing.
Practice, drill and rehearse these steps until they become natural to you. Try them with your spouse or children the next time a concern is raised. Then, you’ll be ready with enhanced skills when you talk with your next client.