A New Look at an Old Sales Technique

A New Look at an Old Sales Technique

By John Foust
Raleigh, NC


Carla has been selling advertising for many years. She has researched and tried a variety of techniques to answer objections. “Just about everybody knows the Feel-Felt-Found formula,” she said. “When a prospect makes an objection – about price, for example – the response is, ‘I understand how you feel. Many others have felt the same way. Then they found that our paper offers good value for their investment.’

“In theory, it’s sound,” she said. “But most business people have heard it before. As soon as they hear ‘I understand how you feel,’ they know it’s going to be a canned explanation. The key is to avoid the words ‘feel,’ ‘felt’ and ‘found’ and use other ways to say the same thing.

“The phrase that has been the biggest help to me is: ‘No one wants to _____.’ Just fill in the blank after the word ‘to’ and you’ve got a great lead-in statement.”

Here’s a closer look:

1. I understand how you feel. The purpose of this phrase is to get in step with others, but it’s an overused statement that can sound mechanical and insincere “You shouldn’t say you understand unless you really understand,” Carla said. “This is where ‘no one wants to’ comes into play. It’s a safe statement that puts me on the same page with the other person. When there’s a price objection, I say, ‘No one wants to pay more for advertising than they have to.’ It’s as simple as that. In all the times I’ve used it, no one has disagreed.”

Carla explained that this works with any objection. “No one wants to schedule more ads than they need. No one wants to plan more meetings than they need. No one wants to sign a longer contract then they need. And so on.

2. Many others have felt the same way. According to Carla, this phrase is too vague. “It’s good to reassure other people, because we want them to know they’re not the only ones with that opinion. But this step in the process works better with a specific example. I like to say something like, ‘Others have had the same opinion. About a month ago, the XYZ Widget Company was concerned about our rates.’ That creates a bridge to the last step – where I talk about what that advertiser found.”

3.Then they found, “Here’s where you turn that example into a testimonial,” Carla said. “Instead of referring to all the advertisers who had that same objection, talk about one advertiser’s positive experience. That has more impact.”

Put it all together to get something like this: “No one wants to pay more for advertising than they have to. Other people have had the same concern. In fact, XYZ initially had questions about our rates. Then they discovered that we offer more coverage than other media choices. As a result, their business is up ten percent over the same time period last year. This comparison chart shows…”

It’s hard to object to that strategy, isn’t it?


(c) Copyright 2018 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: john@johnfoust.com