Last month I was working with a sales rep when he said to a potential customer, “I understand, but…”
My heart sank, and I had to bite my tongue. Do you really understand the person’s concerns if you say “but”? That word invalidates everything you said before it.
“I was going to clean my room, but…”
“I like your outfit, but…”
“Your cooking was excellent, but…”
If I say “but”, I haven’t really heard your concern. All I’m trying to do is to overcome your objection, quickly close the sale, and move on.
How much more powerful would it be to say, “I understand, AND…” If I truly understand where you’re coming from and want to help you, changing one word can open the door to a conversation. The word “and” lets us get on the same side of the issue and start to work together collaboratively.
Just last week I was giving a presentation when one of the attendees asked a good question about the product. Instead of reverting back to the standard overcoming objections (I understand, but…), I realized I had an opportunity to show empathy and make a connection.
“I understand your concern, and that is exactly the same thing question that ‘Jane’ at ‘University X’ had. In working with their team, we were able to address the issue by…”
If we truly understand, then we can put real people in a real story that empowers prospects and makes them the hero and us the guide.
In my presentation, instead of simply overcoming an objection, we opened a dialogue and started a collaborative conversation.
Changing the word from “but” to “and” helps us transition from just another salesperson to a trusted consultant and guide. Although it may not win every deal, it’s a step in the right direction. And once we build trust, we move closer to helping our customers with a product or service that advances their mission.