The “Word of Mouth” Objection

Peady’s Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

I saw this great quote the other day “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first”, its attributed to Wendy Piersall a new media expert and blogger.  The quote obviously refers to how Google ranks websites using their algorithms. The amazing thing is she said this nearly 10 years ago it’s even more important today, particularly for local businesses.

It got me thinking about the connection between Google as well as the various social media and their powerful impact on local business or SME’s. An impact we need to be aware of when we are working with this vertical.

Which leads me onto this week’s subject and the ‘word of mouth’ objection.
Ever heard this objection?

If you’ve been selling media for more than five minutes, you’ll have come across the response “I get most of my business from word of mouth so don’t need to advertise”. And for many local businesses this is true. They survive (and often prosper) depending on recommendations and referrals.

It used to be a tough objection to deal with, however technology has changed the recommendations and referrals landscape.
As a sidebar it’s important to drill down on the objection – don’t just take it as fact. Often its used as a polite way of saying ‘I’m not interested’. Explore via questioning what they mean by word of mouth, how it works, where their leads come from.

Once you are sure its real deal with it. 

I depend on ‘word of mouth’

Back in the day if someone gave you a recommendation it was generally accepted as fact, today we want more, we want “social proof”. We want to know what others think.

The new default action is to go to the recommended company’s website or to Google reviews or Facebook – to see what others say. Once the “evidence” supports the recommendation we normally accept it as viable.

The modern version of ‘word of mouth’ is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google reviews and Google+ as well as the old fashioned personal recommendation. 
Moving forward

Help the customer with a plan to drive positive word of mouth.

Here’s a few strategies:

  • Ask “What are you doing in the marketplace to counter those occasions when someone has a bad experience with your company and goes online to give you a bad review?”
  • Suggest another potential problem. “Word of mouth and referral-based marketing is based solely on your ability to 100% control customer satisfaction – with social media in play you lose that control. 
  • Remind the customer that without mainstream advertising it’s a slow process that takes time to produce results, and it can be pushed back by just one disgruntled customer making a derogatory noise online.
  • Open the subject of how advertising does not compete with word of mouth but actually enhances it.

Good luck in your business conversations and until next week, good selling!

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]