Knee Jerk Reactions

As a kid, I was fascinated when doctors would carefully tap a patient’s knee with a small hammer and the patient’s leg would involuntary kick upwards.  That’s where the phrase “knee jerk reaction” comes from. For years after first seeing this on TV, I tried in vain to make my knee do the same with plenty of bruises to show for my efforts.

Life is full of knee jerk reactions. People get used to reacting in a certain way especially when they are being offered to buy something. You see, when faced with a decision to buy something, we will revert to a knee jerk reaction and say something like, “No thanks” or “I’ll think about it” or “Send/email me some brochures”

Unfortunately many salespeople or those on the front line who need to sell things, accept these customer reactions and don’t close on the sale.

And this is a shame because they are often not real reasons

The secret is to accept them for what they are…knee jerk reactions and kind of ignore them and try again. Throw in a holding phrase and re-do your close.  If done carefully and subtly, it won’t harm and may get the customer to think it through again and make a positive decision.

Some favourite responses that wont offend.

  • “That’s fine, I’m only asking for a short chat with our adviser, it won’t harm will it?”
  • “I understand, however the benefits are excellent….”
  • “Are you sure?  You’ll be missing out on…”
  • “I could email you some brochures but I’ve a better idea, let’s meet shortly to talk it through…”

Bear in mind a customers first reaction to your close, is normally a “no” because this is an in-built knee jerk reaction.

The second, more significant Knee Jerk Reaction comes from us, the salesperson. When a customer gives us an objection or reservation which might be entirely understandable and realistic, we immediately come in with a pre-thought through answer to the objection. Especially if we’ve just come back from a training course and we know all the answers to common objections.

Again the trick is to react differently. A nifty little reminder here is to imagine sitting on their lap.  Of course, this is a metaphor and not something to actually do, although that depends on your customer I guess. No, I’m saying we follow the LAP rule – L for listen to the reservation and really hear them out first, then we A acknowledge it. I’m not saying agree with them but see their point of view, understand where they’re coming from.  And the final P is to probe to figure out exactly what it is they have an issue with.

“I can see where you’re coming from there and it’s a fine point you’re making…can I just ask…is that the only issue that might prevent you going ahead with this plan?”

This strategy gives you thinking time, ensures your customer knows they’re being listened to and shows you’re on their side.

So consider the two knee jerk reactions the next time you’re in a sales situation.  The customer’s reaction to your close and your potential quick response to their reservation. Both hazardous in their own right.

And try as I may, I still can’t get my knee to kick upwards everytime I whack it with a hammer.  Maybe if I hit it harder…

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