Handling Skepticism or Indifference

Handling Skepticism or Indifference

When a customer questions or doubts that our product will provide the benefit, we say it will, you make a proof statement.  You make a proof statement by citing a proof source.  A proof source is any reference or piece of information that proves the benefit in question.  Below is a list of commonly used proof sources:

  • Brochures
  • Photographs
  • Company Contracts
  • Specification Sheets
  • Data from Research Studies
  • Demonstrations
  • Magazine Articles 
  • Professional Journals
  • Testimonial Letters
  • Third-Party References

You need to know the proof sources for each of your products/services. You need to know which proof sources are best for each benefit and for different types of customers.

Sometimes a simple example is the best possible proof, so when a customer doubts a benefit that can be proved by a sample; it’s a good idea to use this technique.  

Phrases you can use to begin a proof statement include:

  • “Mr. Customer, you will get…”
  • “I can understand why you’d be interested in…”
  • “Let me explain further how we…”
  • “We’ve done some research on the subject of…”
  • “You may be interested in what we’ve done…”

You must be careful NOT to agree with customer skepticism.  Agreeing can make the skepticism more difficult to handle.  If you agree when a customer doubts a benefit and then you make a proof statement, it’s like telling the customer:  “Yes, you’re right.  Now let me tell you why you’re wrong.”  While you may want to show a customer that you understand his or her concern, this doesn’t mean that you should agree with it.


Handling Indifference 

The overall problem with an indifferent customer is that this type of prospect does not see the need for your product or service.  Therefore, your strategy with the indifferent customer is to probe to uncover unrealized needs.

You uncover unrealized needs by probing for opportunities that you can confirm as needs.  To help the customer to “see” needs, you have to guide the customer into revealing problems that could be solved or dissatisfactions that could be alleviated by your product or service.  Prospects are not willing to share information readily.  In most cases, you will use closed probes to uncover opportunities.  

A customer may be indifferent simply because they see no need for our products or services.  The key to penetrating this type of indifference is our knowledge of the customer’s business and the actual or potential problems the customer might experience.

A customer may also be indifferent because of satisfaction through an internal solution (on-site maintenance technicians or building engineers).  The key to penetrating this type of indifference is your understanding of that process and the relative advantages of our product and services.

Customer:  “No, we don’t need a roofing maintenance program.  We address leaks with our building engineer, and he does a good job for us.”

Salesperson:  “Our records show that the roofing system installed is a GAF Roofing system that is under warranty for another 7 years.  Are you aware that if you aren’t using GAF materials for repairs, that your warranty is voided?

A customer may be indifferent because of satisfaction with a competitor.  The key to penetrating this type of indifference is your knowledge of the competitive product and the relative advantages of your products / services, such as technology that we have that they don’t (web portal, energy analysis, LEED qualified personnel, other certifications of personnel).  This provides you with an opportunity or an advantage with the customer that our competitor doesn’t have.  Once we determine a need, we probe to confirm by using phrases such as:

  • “Would it help if you had a….?”
  • “Could you use a…that…?”
  • “If you had a …would that help to…?”
  • “Would it be important for you to…?”
  • “Would you be interested in…?”

The key to handling indifference is your ability to successfully uncover opportunities for your product or service.  Ideally, the first opportunity you probe for will be one that the customer responds to.  With an indifferent customer, you may not get a second chance.  To successfully uncover an opportunity, you need to have (or obtain) enough background information about your customer to know what opportunity to probe for – before the call – RESEARCH.

  • Do you have a clear understanding of the reason for the customer’s indifference?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of the internal process that the customer is satisfied with?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of how the customer is using a competitive product you want to replace?