Getting Beyond the Excuse NOT to Buy

The Situation

Dana sells insurance for a reputable company. Many of her customers are young adults, such as Pierce, who is getting married soon. This would be his first life insurance policy. Dana has talked with him about his plans for the future. Now, she has prepared a copy of her recommended policy and is explaining it to him. Wrapping up, Dana asks for his business:

Pierce: It, uh, sounds good.
Dana: Great. Shall we go ahead, then, and set up this policy?
Pierce: Well . . . I can’t really do it today. For financial decisions that are this important, I need for my older brother to look it over first.
Dana: That’s not a bad idea. What if we called him now? I can have an electronic version sent in a couple of minutes.
Pierce: Oh, well . . . see, he’s in banking. He’s very busy. He wouldn’t be available now.
Dana: Okay. Can we set up a meeting with him? You don’t want to put off your coverage.
Pierce: No need for that. I’ll talk to him.
Dana: If that’s the case, I want to make sure you have all the information you need to be able to answer his questions.
Pierce: Oh, I understand it very well.
Dana: Then why does your brother need to be involved? Pierce, you’re an adult. Does your brother make all your decisions for you?
Pierce: No, not at all. Look, I’ve got everything I need. I’ll give you a call.

Losing the Commitment

Dana has hit a snag in closing, and her response does not accomplish anything — other than lowering Pierce’s receptivity and readiness to act. What Q4 collaborative sales techniques would help her deal with Pierce’s roadblock?

Why Prospects Object

Does Pierce really consult with his brother before making financial decisions? Or is he getting cold feet? Whichever it is, Pierce is stating an objection to buying — in this case, a subjective one. It’s based on an emotional component of how he feels. If bringing up his brother was just an excuse to put off buying, it falls in the category of “I’ll have to think about it” or “I’ll get back to you on this.” Subjective objections can all be reduced to “I don’t feel confident enough to buy right now.”


But Pierce may be masking a stronger, real objection, which he’s reluctant to state. For instance, if he thinks the premiums are too high or another company’s plan sounds better, why not just say it?


Prospects whose typical behavior is Q2 reluctance or Q3 overly agreeable may find it difficult to directly disagree. It could lead to a dispute they don’t want to have. So, they make an excuse.


It would help Dana to try to surface an objective disagreement — something that deals in facts and can be measured and discussed, such as premiums or a better quote from another company.


How to Handle It?

Up to a point, Dana was being Q4 involving, but her frustration led to a belittling Q1 remark about Pierce.


Instead of overreacting, Dana should use Q4 probing skills to learn what’s really on Pierce’s mind. If Pierce’s real objection is simple fear about making a big decision — a feeling he doesn’t want to reveal — Dana may have to go more slowly and review the plan in even more detail to make him feel more confident. It may require more objective proof that this policy and Dana’s company are trustworthy.


If Pierce’s hidden opinion is that the premiums are too high, then Dana has to probe this reluctance to say so. A Q4 approach could mean Dana bringing up the possible objections for the prospect. “Pierce, if you have any concern about the cost, I’d like to hear it.” His answer will be much easier to manage than the vague, “I’ll have to think about it.” She will probably be able to work out a solution with a substitute policy.


Probe and Listen

To effectively manage an objection, probe in detail, then listen for clues that reveal whether the stated objection seems genuine. If further probing reveals what the customer really thinks, you can try to solve this real objection without being confrontational.


What if Pierce really does consult with his brother on every big decision? Dana may have to live with that, but not after doing some tactful probing to determine if Pierce has some unstated doubts.