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A Customer On the Edge: Don’t Make Them Defensive


Overcoming objectives can be effective in gaining a sale, whether it’s an appliance purchase, a customer switching banks or cell phone providers, or even making a car purchase.


Many mystery shopping programs incorporate this aspect into the shopper’s scenario. At some point in their conversation with a sales associate, they are to raise an objection to see how the associate handles it. Offering helpful information and solutions to the customer’s objection, while adding reasons why buying from their company is best, can go a long way in securing that purchase.


However, there are times when we’ve seen associates get a bit too eager in trying to close the sale, and they can cause the customer to become defensive and not want to make a purchase. This usually comes into play with part of an objection relates to competitive shopping, or changing companies they do service with. The most appropriate thing to do here is for associates to mention the benefits of their company and why life would be better on this side of the fence. Sometimes associates, most likely meaning well, take it a bit too far and start speaking negatively of the competitor companies. Let me give you two examples:


1. A cable company was offering a new deal in certain areas of the country, and their strong pitch was that they were more competitive and could offer more than a specific competitor. When dealers approached shoppers, they were to talk about the benefits of their company and show a checklist of why they are superior, both in price and service offerings. Nothing wrong with that, until a shopper came across an associate who was a bit more aggressive in his approach. After learning that the cost of their services was slightly more expensive than the competitor, he started by talking about his company and what they could offer. So far, so good. Then he launched into a ten minute talk on how bad the competitor was, how they tried to offer “crap” channels to make it look like you were getting more than you really were, and on and on. This was perceived poorly by the shopper and, had they been a true customer, would have turned them off from making the change.


2. Personal Bankers were evaluated to determine their sales pitches and overcoming objections when potential customers were interested in switching banks. They were provided several talking points, as well as some comparisons with local competitors that they could use in conversations with these potential customers. However, there were some bankers that again too it a bit too far, talking poorly about the competition to the point where the potential customer became defensive about their current bank, and the negative conversation made them change their mind on making the switch.


It’s a fine line between promoting your company and bashing the competition. Speaking positively about your company, pointing out aspects that you can offer that perhaps your competitor cannot, will go a lot further than simply speaking poorly of the other companies.


A strong mystery shopping program that incorporates overcoming objectives can give you great insight into what your associates are saying, how they are saying it, and how it is affecting your customer base.