An objections book is a history of your sales calls. It includes everything you said and did, right or wrong. I have only met two or three others in my thirty-plus years of direct selling who took the time to compile a book, but each one became outstanding in their profession.
Find a notebook. A three-ring binder might be easiest. After each sales call, and before you get home, drive to a convenient place where you can safely pull over. Turn the vehicle off, clear your mind and start going back through the process of I said, they said, I said, etc.
Your notes do not have to be long winded, but they need to cover the conversation you had with the potential customer. You need to write enough so that when you go back a week or two later, you will be able to know almost exactly what was said, by whom, and why.
Your notes will tell you a story of your habits in front of your customer, both good and bad. When you make a sale, you will know what you did right and what you said to get there. And when you miss a sale, your notes will show you not only what was said and by whom, but also what you could or should have said differently. Should you have asked a different question, more questions, tougher questions, or worked harder towards getting the commitment from the customer?
Did you make commitments to the customer without getting a commitment in return? A good example of this is offering to do an estimate without getting your customer to commit to a decision when you quote the final price. Your question should be, “If I prepare a firm price quotation for you, are you prepared to make a decision to proceed with this job?” Get a commitment from them.
Did you keep things cordial and upbeat? Did you allow one or both of the customers to drift away from you during the sales call? Did one of them leave the appointment and if so, what did you do about it? Did you stay focused on making the sale or did it turn into a social call?
You need to be brutally honest, or this exercise serves no purpose. If you are frank, over time you’ll recognize any bad or annoying habits which might be costing you sales.
Have your spouse or a friend who can be honest with you read your book. They might find it easier to pick up habits or things that you are saying that are causing a problem. If you find that you’re getting the same response on three or more calls in a row, such as “your price is too high,” it is almost always something you’re planting in the minds of your customer.
I kept a book like this for many years. As a result, our book on sales covers many of the issues I experienced over the years.
My approach to dealing with some of these issues may not be the way you would proceed. That’s okay. If you keep a clear history of your sales calls, you’ll know what works best for you.
Keeping a book like this takes discipline. Frankly, it takes much more discipline than most people have. If you do it, however, the end result is more profitable sales with fewer problems and a much higher income.
(This was originally published via email in June 2003, and is included in our book Profitable Sales, A Contractor’s Guide).