How to Use the E.C.I.R.R. Method of Overcoming Objections

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People know that there are two main things that are certain in life; death and taxes. If you work in sales, you have to add a third. The old phrase now becomes “There are only three things certain in life: death, taxes, and dealing with customer & client objections.” It’s a certain guarantee that if you are presenting any sort of product or service to anybody and trying to convince them to buy it, you’ll have to master the handling objections step. Rarely does somebody buy on the first try – so mastering this step is crucial if you want to have a successful career in sales.

Much like closing, there are several techniques and processes that you can go through while handling objections. These techniques are meant to help you overcome an objection without becoming argumentative and combative. One of my personal favorite methods of overcoming objections is the E.C.I.R. technique. It’s easy to remember and proven to be one of the best techniques to use.

E.C.I.R.R.

E.C.I.R.R. is an acronym that stands for Empathize, Clarify, Isolate, Respond, and Repeat

In sales, not many things can be considered a “silver bullet” or a “one sized fits all process”, but in this case, E.C.I.R.R. allows you to overcome any objection presented to you because you end up controlling the objection and are able to frame it in a way where you can easily overcome it.

Here is how this works:

Empathize

The first step in this method is to empathize with the client/prospect with regards to the actual objection.  The purpose of this step is to establish a certain level of trust. You need to humanize yourself and show the prospect that while you certainly understand where they are coming from, your product/service is still the best for them and their needs.

This step has to be done carefully though – you don’t want to accidentally agree with the objection! You can’t say that you “totally get it” or “definitely understand” because that implies that you are agreeing with them and will back down. A good way to avoid this is to the Feel Felt Found method.

An example of this in action would probably look something like:

Prospect: Thank you for your time, but I am currently happy with my current situation. The company I work with does a great job already and I am not currently looking to switch.

Salesperson: Sir/Maam, while I can understand your hesitation about switching over to our service, I really think this would work for you. I can see the hesitation though – many similar companies feel the same way before trying our services and felt hesitant at first, but when they tried it, they found we exceeded their expectations and increased their productivity 75% or more.

Clarify

The next step should be done right away before the prospect has a chance to respond. You want to clarify with the prospect to make sure that the objection is understood by you so you can frame it to your benefit. A clarification question is crucial to this process – you want to make sure you are both on the same page.

Salesperson: But just so I’m clear, because I want to be on the same page as you. You are currently happy with your current situation and feel like your current supplier is maximizing your productivity at a fair price.

Side Note – Notice how the salesperson added the “fair price” portion to the objection. This was not said by the prospect, but the salesperson is beginning to frame it in a way he can easily handle.

Isolate

Much like the clarify step, the isolate step should come right away. You want to literally isolate the objection and make sure that nothing else is preventing the transaction from taking place. This step is the easiest because it’s one sentence and is the most lighthearted part of handling the objection.

Salesperson: Is that all that’s preventing you you from trying us out?

This should be said with a jovial inflection. You should make it seem like it’s no big deal!

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Respond

After the prospect answers in the affirmative, you can proceed to handle the objection on your own terms and in a way you have rehearsed.

Prospect: Yes

Salesperson: How about we do this. Although my competition might be less expensive, I feel so confident that we can far exceed your expectations and greatly outperform the competition in terms of profitability, how about we put our word to the test? We can extend to you a 90 day trial period, free of charge. If our services fail improve your productivity and fail to exceed your profitability goals, we will withdraw.  If you find that we are a good fit for your company and find that you have a healthier bottom line, we can go from there in terms of a contract. How does that sound?

Notice that the salesperson brought the price element back in to the picture here.

Repeat

Sometimes, even though a prospect originally said that they only had that one objection before in the isolation step, they will throw another objection out at you. This is where mediocre salespeople back down. They have the courage to do the first 4 steps, but often forget about the 5th. This crucial step is important if the customer throws another objection out at you.

If you are hit with another objection, repeat the previous 4 steps all over again with the new objection.

Prospect: Uhm, well, the sounds great and all, but I am committed and locked in to a 1 year contract with them already. I don’t want to pay any early termination fees with them. Come back next year and we will reevaluate.

Salesperson: Oh! Of course, those contracts can be tricky. Many businesses often feel that they are obligated to see a contract out and felt that there were options to get out of it, but found out that we can help them with that. Just so I’m clear though – you don’t want to break your current contract because of the early termination fees, is that the real reason why you won’t agree to try us out?

Prospect: Yea.

Salesperson: No problem! We actually have a process where we will buy you out of your old contract! We are so confident in our services that we will 100% cover the cost of terminating your current contract. Can we start here next week?

Repeat as needed. It might feel strange to repeat yourself over and over again if you get hit with 3 or more objections, but stick to the process. Eventually, the prospect will start to feel like they are the ones who are making the excuses and will start to see the flaw in their logic.

Bottom Line

As we all know, sales is a tough business. You hear “no” much more frequently than you hear “yes.” In some cases, you might get one closed sale in every 10, 15, 20, 30+ presentations. Using this method every time you hear a “no” is how you will get to the next level. It’s important to note that while this technique is one of the best methods for handling objections, this is not the Golden Gun of sales. No matter how good you are, some people will just not buy.

The key takeaway here is that by using this method, you will close more sales than if you fold right away after hearing an objection. Practice this method and really try to master it – you will find that you close more sales and struggle much less with overcoming objections.

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Author: Jason Karaman

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