Objections. You have heard them all before: “I have no budget”, “I have no need”, “I am not interested” or “We are happy with our existing supplier”. My favorite objection is “Maybe later”. All are the customer’s way of saying “no”.

Classical sales training tells us that you have to hear “no” before you can hear “yes”. What this really means is that customers must purge themselves of all concerns, hesitations, and questions before they can buy. And if they don’t get these things out their system they won’t be able to go forward. These concerns manifest themselves as objections in the sales process. The astute sales person is on the lookout for these and welcomes them.

Let the customer know that sharing these objections is the right thing to do and that they are smart to do so. This may seem opposite of what you might first think; many inexperienced sales people run away or avoid objections. Often objections are challenging and can end the sales process if handled poorly. Yet, closing your eyes and hoping they go away won’t work.

Some say that an objection is a request for more information and a request for help. Expect to hear no. Better yet, plan on it. Respond by being understanding while probing for more information. “No” is an enabling sales technology.

Let the customer know that “No” is an acceptable outcome because you are here for the long run and want to build a long term relationship. This takes the pressure out of the sales process and allows the customer to explain more specifically his/her issues. This allows you the chance to provide a better solution.

Sometimes, you can ignore an objection. This can be a bit cocky because if the customer says it, then it needs to be handled sooner or later. I have found that this strategy works when someone hurls a volley of multiple objections at you. With this objection-handling strategy, you let him/her repeat the important objections and then you can address the important issues.

Some customers object on price because they feel that they have to; often this customer is a poor or inexperienced negotiator and feels that objecting once on price is enough or is an expected part of the process. Ignoring this objection can pay off with this type of buyer.

Most sales training suggests you turn around objections by restating them and taking the offensive. For example, the customer says the price is too high. You respond, “If the price wasn’t too high could you agree to proceed with the service?” This seems a bit deliberate to me.

My thoughts are that objections are a part of a healthy sales process and are to be expected, if not desired, if you want the order. Greet them calmly and respond with calming words like “I understand how you feel” or “I see” or “Others have felt the same way”.

Next, probe more information with questions like:
– “How so?”
– “Tell me more?”
– “What else?”
– “Tell me about it”

Offer an explanation or more information to help the customer understand your offering’s benefits. Then say:

– “Have I answered your question?”
– “Does that help?”
– “Does that sound better?”

Sometimes, the customer will continue to object. This means that they still need more information. Give them more. Then verify again that you have properly responded to the objection. If so, it can be appropriate to say, “Thanks for asking me that (i.e. you are so smart)” or “That was a great question (i.e. you are so smart) or simply, “Thanks”.

Objections help you find the way to yes, so welcome them. It is the customer’s way of asking for help because “No” is an enabling sales technology.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.

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  1. Jerry Ramos

    Hey John,

    Nice blog, it hit home. Recently, when prospecting clients, I got a lot of “maybe later” comments. I’ve tried different techniques and I look forward to applying the ones you have suggested.

    My most recent prospect is a water store vendor who sells filtered water at 25 cents per gallon. As a regular customer, I visit twice a month and I know the cashier/owner by name. Although he expressed interest in retaining me as a consultant, he went through the typical objections…1) no budget 2) happy with the status quo…etc. Just as JJ pointed out.

    I quickly changed the topic to a current event and minutes later he was complaining about the many upset customers from his recent price increase. Imagine that, once I shifted from sales mode to the buddy “rapport” stage he told me his pain. I capitalized on this and moved in with key value propositions to ease the pain–via consulting.

    Needless to say, I begin consulting this client in two weeks. As JJ points out, many times a NO can mean that more information is needed…mind you, it helps to know the pain to remedy.


    Jerry Ramos

  2. Jerry,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Customers need to purge themselves of their objections before they can say yes. As sales people, we need to remind our selves to slow down and let the,.


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