Handling Objections in Sales, by Sean McPheat of MDT Training, is an open textbook available at boonbook.com. The book can be downloaded at no cost after registering on boonbook.com (registration involves signing up for a newsletter). The 46-page book includes 6 chapters: 1. Introduction; 2. Overcoming Objections and the Basic Sales Process; 3. General Skills Overcoming Objections Requires; 4. Identifying the Source of the Objections; 5. Overcoming Common Objections; and 6. More Techniques for Overcoming Objections. The book positions objections within the sales process, and then discusses how sales has changed over the years. The needs of today's customers are discussed. Finally, objections are discussed in detail; common objections are identified, and methods in which they should be handled discussed.
Type of Material:
This book would work best in an undergraduate sales course, or a graduate course where students had limited to no sales experience. It could also be used in everyday life or in professional meetings or in the field of sales.
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
The goal of the book is to teach the reader about objections and how to best handle objections within the sales process.
Target Student Population:
undergraduate or graduate students, or practicing professionals
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Principles of marketing would be a helpful class to take before reading this material, but it would not be absolutely necessary.
Chapters are short and to the point. Still, sufficient detail is provided to develop student understanding of objections and how to handle them effectively. Context is established; that is, the author discusses the sales process and how objections fit into the sales process. Moreover, the sales process is discussed within the larger picture of today's customers and the needs of those customers. There are many strengths with the materials, including the inclusion of: body language; presentation killers; paraphrasing the objections; Figure 3 about the sales process; common objections list; reminders to write down objections; clarifying the situation, needs, priorities and constraints; getting to the root of the objection; and focusing on the return on investment, not the price.
I reviewed two chapters in detail: Chapter 3, General Skills Overcoming Objections Requires; and Chapter 5, Overcoming Common Objections. Chapter 3 covered the importance of listening and communication skills, including checking for understanding, not interrupting, and responding appropriately. The importance of problem-solving and interpersonal skills was also emphasized. For instance, the author discussed the need to be courteous and show respect for others. Also discussed were persuasion skills, how to demonstrate persuasion skills, customer service skills, and integrity. Numerous examples were provided throughout the chapter, as well as several "how to" scenarios.
In Chapter 5 the author provided examples of six common objections -- price, selection of company over competition, fear of change, timing, need for other input, and personal politics -- and discussed each in detail. In each case, he provided multiple ideas the reader might consider as a way to counter that objection. For example, in response to fear of change, the author suggests stating "I'll be here through the entire transition process." Generally, the advice was fairly thorough considering the brevity of the book. I appreciate the fact that the author did not resort to "techniques" for handling objections but instead was considering content based responses.
Although examples are provided, more detail would be helpful. Ideas for responding to objections are necessarily general and may not translate to specific situations. It might be a good idea to use another variation on the sales process and put Figure 3 sooner, perhaps in the very first chapter. Credibility is a key part of the sales process, and although it was mentioned effectively, it really should be listed with the sales process. Also, add a bit more detail on body language, in addition to the fact that it's important.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
When combined with application and instructor guidance, this book could provide sufficient information to assist students in understanding how to handle customer objections. The examples within the book are good, and the responses, although generic, are useful. The text is a good overview of the sales process and should be quite effective as an introduction to the process. Combined with on-site teaching on exactly how to apply the material, the text could serve as a starting point for both novice sales people and/or more experience professionals as a refresher course.
Although the author discusses this as part of the larger sales process and mentions addressing objections early, I have some concerns about distinguishing this step from the rest of the selling process. Ideally, students should be asking questions throughout the process; I don't want them to think of it as a separate step, necessarily. Adding details on body language, credibility, and moving the sales process figure to Chapter 1 would be a great start to strengthening the materials.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The book is very easy to use and download. It took just a few minutes to get it to my desktop, and at 46 pages it is an easy read. The material is effectively presented, and all that would be necessary for deep learning would be the inclusion of practice role-plays.
I disliked signing up for a newsletter to download the book. I also disliked all of the ads in the book, although I know that is why the book is free and the tradeoff is probably worth it.
Another concern for ease of use would be whether or not any change in behavior could occur with just reading the material.
Other Issues and Comments:
The only real issue would be whether or not people would change their behavior based on reading the material.
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