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If There Is An Elephant in the Room, Give It a Name

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
August 6, 2010

Late in the game, buyers go through a stage in the buying cycle where they want to make sure that they not making the wrong decision. Little shreds of doubt creep into their minds, and they begin to have concerns.

The salesperson’s job is to resolve those concerns. But first, you have to work to uncover the concerns that need resolved. That is a story for another day. This post is about all of the times that you know exactly, with laser-guided, pinpoint accuracy exactly what the concern is. It is as big as an elephant, and it is crowding everything else out the room—including your opportunity to win the deal.

Some salespeople believe that if they bring up the fact that there is giant glaring concern that has only been alluded to and never really discussed, that by doing so they will put their deal at risk. They mistakenly believe that there best chance for winning the deal is in never addressing the concern or drawing attention to it, hoping that it will just go away.

The problem is, it doesn’t go away. Instead, it lives there, like a devil in your deal, ready to trample your opportunity to death.

Your role in sales is not to overcome objection. It is to resolve concerns in a super-competent and professional manner. Here’s a formula for doing so.

One: Identify It and Name It

If there is an obvious, glaring concern that needs to be resolved before your dream client can feel 100% confident moving forward with you, it is your job to point it out. If you would join your dream client’s team, if you would help them to a better result and a better future, you have to have the integrity to look out for their best interests–even when it is difficult.

By identifying the concern, you build trust and influence. You prove that you can be counted on, and that you care enough to really produce a result. You also prove that you have the business acumen and the leadership capability to deal with something big and ugly—which is what your dream client is hoping you can help them with.

Give it a name. You have to call the concern what it is. Maybe you have to say something like: “Were you to choose us, it would mean that you have to massively restructure the whole department. This would take a lot of time and a lot of effort. It is a concern that we will have to deal with together. Can we talk about this restructuring and the concerns that you might have?”

There. It has been identified and it has been named. In this case, let’s call it restructuring. It could have just as easily been called “pricing” or “implementation” or “systems integration” or hundreds of other things.

By identifying and naming the know concern, you removes your dream clients fears and their reservations. If you aren’t afraid to deal with it, then you are somebody worth dealing with.

Two: Figure Out How to Get It Out of the Room

You thought that was the hard part; now we have to find someway to get the concern out of the deal altogether. One of the reasons that some salespeople fail to identify the concern and hope that they can win without addressing it is because they haven’t figured out how to get rid of it.

Dealing with the concern may take every bit of your resourcefulness. You may have to collaborate with your dream client to generate and agree upon just what it might take to effectively resolves their concern. If it is a really big concern, you are going to have to deal with just how much of a change management program and transformation you are making, and you may decide that you need to do more ground work to lay the foundation for success.

You many need to use the internal network that you have built and you may need to sell as hard inside your own organization as you will have to sell in your dream client’s organization to succeed. This is the difference between true professionalism in the sales profession and the pretenders. This is also the difference between success and failure.

The concerns don’t go away by themselves. In fact, the longer the go unaddressed, the larger they grow, making them only harder to get out. When you know the concern exists, you are called upon to make the choice to act. By acting, you are taking ownership of the outcome, something your dream client desperately wants you to do. If you choose not to act and to ignore the concerns that you should know exist, you only confirm to your dream client that you are not a person to be counted on to help them with the heavy lifting.


    1. How do you identify the concerns that may later derail your deal?
    1. How should you handle the giant glaring concerns that are left unspoken, but that are obvious to any thoughtful person who is paying attention?
    1. What prevents you from tackling these obstacles head on? What fear prevents you from acting? Is your deal any less at risk by leaving the concern unaddressed?
    1. What does your willingness to address unspoken concerns tell your dream client about who you are? How might it effect their decision whether to choose your or not?
    1. How do you resolve major concerns? Whose help can you employ within your own organization? Whose help can you employ within your dream client’s organization.
  1. Break out your deal list. Write down the know concerns you have to address to win each of the deals. Now write down your plan to address them. Monday morning, start calling your dream clients to point out the elephant in the room, to give him a name, and to create a plan to evict him from the premises of your deal.

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 6, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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