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Objecting To Objections

by David Brock on April 13th, 2022

Lately, I’ve been watching some eLearning programs on objection handling. It suddenly struck me, there’s a unique arrogance we sellers have about the concepts of objections. Too often, the underlying thinking seems to be that salespeople are the only people that encounter objections. That objections are something unique that customers inflict on us.

We develop techniques to “handle” objections. Some “experts” promote techniques that seem somewhat manipulative. We seem to have a mindset that too many conversations with prospects and customers are “adversarial” relationships we must prepare for and “handle.”

We’re obsessed with techniques and answers to objections. I Googled objection handling, quickly getting 129 million results. At least on the first page, there were articles like “44 Common Sales Objections and How To Handle Them,….8 Sales Objections and How To Handle Them….” There were also links to objection handling scripts and answers. The focus was on things we do to customers.

By contrast, I Googled handling conflict, there were 444 million results. The difference, at least on the first page, was not providing answers to common conflicts, but the process of understanding how conflict arises, how to engage in conversations to understand conflict and how to come to agreement. They focused on how we engage with those with who we disagree.

It’s interesting that we think of objections as something that’s unique to buyer/seller interactions. That we develop special techniques focused only on these situations. Or that, sellers are the only people that encounter objections and the only people that must develop methods to understand and deal with them.

In sales, we’ve come to think of objections as customers not responding the way we want them to respond. We seem to want people to wait with baited breath on everything that we do, whether it’s requesting a meeting, telling us what they are doing, responding to our pitches, being open to whatever we request. And when they don’t respond in the way that we want, we develop techniques for handling them.

I’m, sometimes, fascinated that “normal” people, don’t go to objection handling classes, yet they handle colleagues, friends, family blowing them off…..”I’m too busy watching TV….I got to get this report done…I’m preoccupied with other things….How much will this cost, we don’t have the money……” We learn how to handle these situations in natural conversations. Maybe it’s laughing it off, maybe it’s deferring the issue until later, maybe it’s stubbornness.

“Normal” people learn how to handle conflict and disagreement. It’s natural, that we don’t necessarily agree with our colleagues on issues. We sometimes have a different point of view, or we don’t understand, or we have conflicting goals and objectives.

Yet we don’t go to objection handling classes to learn how to overcome these, how to manipulate people to change their minds. We know that conflict and contention is just part of life and work. We learn how to listen, ask questions, how to have conversations to understand differing points of view. We learn how to resolve differences, whether it might be to agree to disagree, or how we might come to agreement.

We learn, that sometimes conflict and disagreement may simply be misunderstanding, or differing goals.

We learn that sometimes in the process of resolving conflict and disagreement, collectively we learn and come up with a better approach.

And we are, very frequently, very good at handling disagreement and conflict. It’s what allows us to learn, move forward, change, and grow.

Somehow, it seems if we could learn what “normal people” do rather than what sales people do, we might be more effective in working with those “normal people.”

Somehow, it seems the best “technique” is being open minded, active listening, asking questions without an agenda, learning, being curious, suggesting other ideas, working together, and caring.

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