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Thinking About Objections

by David Brock on June 22nd, 2021

Sales people have always had a bit of a weird mindset on objections. We do everything we can to avoid them. We go through all sorts of training on how to “handle” them. We rehearse scripted responses to those we anticipate might arise, crossing our fingers, hoping they won’t. Somehow, we have this “negative” reaction to objections.

Ironically, customers don’t seem to have this point of view. They don’t avoid them, they don’t go through training on “techniques for raising objections.” They just have questions, concerns, a point of view that may differ from ours. And they care enough about these issues that they ask them. Sometimes, they may raise them in a slightly contentious manner—-“Your solution doesn’t do this….. The alternatives have a better approach to that….. I don’t think you can…. Your price is far to high…..”

Objections are a blessing. They enable the customer and us to continue the conversation. They enable us to learn things the customer really cares about. They help us understand the customer opinions and attitudes toward us and the alternatives. They help both the customer and us move forward together.

Imagine the alternative. What if the customer didn’t feel comfortable enough in the relationship to raise questions and concerns? What if the customer didn’t care enough about our solutions that they didn’t take the time to express the problems they have with our solutions? Without this level of engagement, how do we know what the customer thinks about our solution and the alternatives? How do we move forward together?

The buying/selling journey is a collaborative learning process. In this process, we will have differing opinions and points of view. To make progress, we need to identify concerns, issues, and these differences. We need to address them together, coming to a satisfactory resolution. And if we can’t resolve them, and they are show stoppers, it may be an indicator that we and the customer should walk away.

Objections are important. They are a natural part of learning, aligning, and moving forward together. The fact they occur is an indication of the engagement on the part of the person raising the objection.

One class of objections I never hear discussion about is sales raising objections with the customer. There is an attitude with many sales people that is conflict averse. We don’t want to disagree. Yet sometimes we need to disagree. The customer may be thinking about the wrong things. They may be missing issues that could be important. They may have a point of view that could be very misinformed (read “they may be wrong.”).

Too often, we don’t want to rock the boat, we don’t want to appear disagreeable, we don’t want to show the customer they may be wrong.

But this avoidance isn’t helpful for the customer and it isn’t helpful for us. We need to think about how we get the customer to think differently, how we might need to, politely, disagree, how to express concerns we have about what the customer is doing.

Objections, disagreement, conflict are part of making progress, they are part of every change. We do the customer and ourselves a disfavor by avoiding them or even “managing” them. They are a natural part of making progress and avoidance of these stops the progress.

Any objections? Different points of view? Let’s talk about it.

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