Help Your Technicians Handle Customer Objections

One of your technicians has just made a recommendation on a critical piece of equipment.  It is old, parts are hard to find and a failure will have catastrophic results. The customer hesitates and says something like, “Leave it with me and let me think about it.”  Underlying this statement could be an objection.  It is for times like these that it makes sense to help your technicians have the skills/tools ready to (or be prepared to) handle customer objections.

You might be wondering why I am using sales terminology when I insist that the technician’s act of making recommendations is not a sale but a service.  It is because in situations like these letting the matter go without investigating the customer’s reason for their hesitation does not fulfill our obligation to serve the customer in the best way possible.  Let’s examine why.

Why the customer may hesitate

The customer may hesitate for several reasons.  Perhaps they really do want to think about it, do the math and make a financial determination and that will take time.  Perhaps they need the approval of someone else or have another company that they would have do the work.  Maybe they are sceptical of the solution or don’t fully trust the technician. Or maybe they do not fully understand the risk of not taking action or the benefit of moving forward and therefore cannot make a fully informed decision.

Regardless, if the stakes are high, then the technician should be prepared to explore the cause of hesitation further and try to address their concerns if appropriate.  By not doing so, they are letting the customer make a choice that he/she may later regret and they certainly won’t thank us if they do.  And, it certainly won’t be helpful if we say something like, “You should have listened to me when I told you to …” when things do go as the technician predicted.

What we can do

  1. Ensure your technicians are aware of and expect that the customer may have concerns about any recommendation.
  2. Help your technicians be prepared to explore any concerns and have a plan to address them if they do arise.
  3. Have a backup plan if the technician is unsuccessful.

“Do you mind if I ask the reason for your hesitation?”

Let’s go back to the example of an imminent equipment failure.  The risk to the customer is high and yet they may say, “Leave it with me and let me think about it.”

Keeping in mind that the customer may genuinely wish to think about the issue, your technician can ask a simple question to help them get to the underlying concern.  “Do you mind if I ask the reason for your hesitation?” Chances are, the customer will answer this question with underlying cause for their hesitation.

By exploring the apparent concern of the customer, the technician will be in a better position to help the customer assess the recommendation and make a more informed decision.

Here are just a few examples of what to expect:

  • Hesitation based on scepticism: “My last service company never mentioned this” (often happens when you win a contract from a competitor and the technician has not had time to build trust) or “You guys have been looking after my equipment for the past 10 years, how come you’re just bringing this up now?”
  • Hesitation based on current buying habits: “I already have a company that can do that work for me.”
  • Hesitation based on uncertainty: “I am not sure if it will …”
  • Hesitation based on pricing and/or budgets: “We don’t have any reserve in the budget.”

With these examples in hand, you can help spend some time during your safety/service meetings with your technicians to help them develop a professional response to each of them if they do arise.  The customer may still say “no” despite your technician’s best efforts but at least the decision will be a better informed one.

Have a back up plan. 

What if the technician was unable to deal with the customer’s underlying concern and the matter is of some urgency?  An equipment failure for example could be catastrophic.  Should they push harder?  My answer is that they should not.

However, they should not drop the matter either.  I suggest that you have in place a process where in these circumstances, the technician can alert management so that a responsible follow-up with the customer can be taken by the manager or the sales team.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. You can connect with me via telephone or email or leave a comment right here on the site. And as always, please feel free to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site. If you are reading this blog post via email, you will need to locate this post on my website by clicking here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the comment section.

Jim Baston

“He who hesitates is last.”

 – Mae West

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