Improving Your Sales Success


Objections are questions. That is all they are. They are not a challenge.

  • When you answer a question, who wins? Everybody.
  • When you overcome a challenge, someone loses.

Prospects will object to your proposal if you have not adequately handled the diagnosis and capabilities part of the interview. They may also object even when you handled the interview perfectly. They may just have some questions — and that is all objections really are: Questions. So do not be defensive or take an objection as a personal insult. Prospects’ objections say, “I do not have the information I need to help me make a decision.” So, give them new information to make a new decision.

People almost never change their minds. To do so would be to admit they were wrong in the first place, and few people do that. Then how do you handle an objection? While people will not change their minds, they will make a new decision based on new information in a new unit of time.

That is not changing their mind.

The mental position you should create and maintain throughout your presentation, but especially when handling objections, is: “You and I, Mr. or Ms. Prospect, are working together to solve the problem. It is not me against you. I’m going to give you the additional information you need to make the right decision.”

See objections, not as a problem, but as an opportunity. As you handle each objection it is another step on the path getting you closer to the Engagement or the Advance.

If you have handled the investigation well, a prospect may not have any objections. Sometimes, however, the prospect has an objection but is reluctant to voice it.

Clearly you want to uncover objections that exist in the prospect’s mind. Until you do, those objections remain a hidden barrier to Advancing the relationship or closing the Engagement. 

Here are some steps you can take to uncover objections:

  • Project a non-threatening attitude and a sincere willingness to hear objections
  • Sometimes you have to be more direct. If a prospect looks uncomfortable, doubtful, or upset when you say something, you might just stop and say, “Sharon, you look bothered by something I said. Could you please tell me what it is?”

Key Point: The confirmation statement or question is designed to reveal objections.


Sometimes a prospect makes a comment such as: “That sure seems expensive” or “Your firm is certainly new/large/small/whatever.” This may not be an objection, just a statement of fact.

Sometimes you can just agree with the comment or act as though you did not hear it.

Example: Think of yourself as a Mercedes-Benz or BMW salesperson. If a prospect says the car is expensive, you can just agree with that statement of fact. Once you agree with the comment, it is no longer a controversy, and the prospect finds it more difficult to make a future issue of it.

In general, objections come in three categories:

  • Those which the prospect considers moderately serious (will not necessarily make or break the deal)
  • Those which he considers serious (which can make or break the deal); and
  • Stalls (an excuse to delay action).

Generally, an objection is real (to the prospect), while a stall just puts off a decision — probably because the accountant did not adequately handle the investigation part of the interview and find the prospect’s Benefit by using Payoff questions.

A prospect directs an objection to some facet of your proposal while a stall has nothing to do with the service you offer. For example, “I am not sure we are ready for such a big step. I really need to think about this for a few days” is a stall; it has nothing to do with your proposal. It means you have not addressed the prospect’s need.

Objections may be general or specific:

  • A general objection would be “We don’t need an accountant,” or “That’s too complicated for me.”
  • A specific objection would be “You firm is too big,” or “The price is too high.”

General objections and stalls should be handled the same way: Probe for more specific reasons for the objection or stall. You may probe by restating the objection or stall as a question, or by rephrasing it as a question. Or you may simply ask why the prospect feels that way.


Prospect: I am not sure we need an accountant
Accountant: You don’t think you need an accountant?


Prospect: I would like to think about this for a few days
Accountant: What makes you feel that way?

You need to understand the prospect’s concern before you can address it.

Ideally you answer objections before the prospect raises them. This has the following benefits:

  • It enhances your credibility, since you address both positive and negative aspects of your proposal
  • It gets rid of the objection, since it is a barrier to the sale
  • If a prospect thinks about that objection, it interferes with them listening carefully to you
  • Finally, prospects do not defend objections brought up by you as fiercely as they defend their own objections.

When you raise an objection before the prospect does, do not make it sound like an objection.

Example: If you think the prospect may object to your location, you might say,

“Barbara, like many country-based companies, you mentioned that convenience of your accounting firm’s office is important. As you know, we are city-centre based. Even though we are in the city most of the time we go to our clients or connect with them in our online meeting rooms; we do not ask them to come to us.”

A statement like this does not threaten and gives you the chance to deal with the subject on your terms.


1. Stop talking and listen

2. Clarify the objection if you do not thoroughly understand it. Sometimes the prospect may string together several related or unrelated statements for several minutes, or one objection may be hopelessly disorganised and jumbled. Do not try to answer objections until you first fully understand them. Sort out the multi-objection response by saying, “Mr. Smith, you mentioned several points that I would like to address. As I recall, first you said…. Have I covered all your points?” You could clarify a jumbled objection by saying, “Mr. Watson, what I think I heard is that you… Did I understand you correctly?”

3. Probe for deeper meaning if necessary. A superficial or general objection may not get to the heart of the prospect’s uneasiness. You have likely not addressed their real need. This may require some tactful probing. If you do not uncover the real need, it could ruin your chances for a successful meeting. Look for the consequences to the objection; that is, how whatever the prospect is questioning affects him or her.

Example: Suppose your prospect says, “I do not want to get involved with a smaller accounting firm.”

Here are several responses to probe for the real objection:

  • “Why does that concern you, Ms. Jones?”
  • “How could that adversely affect you, Mr. Lloyd?”
  • What has happened to make you feel that way, Ms. Templar?”
  • An honest response puts you closer to selecting a more satisfying answer.

4. Acknowledge the objection. Start your answer with some statement that acknowledges the importance of the prospect’s objection, no matter how insignificant it may sound to you.

  • “I am glad you brought that up.”
  • “I can understand your concern about…”
  • “That is an interesting point you raised.”
  • “If I were in your place, I would probably feel the same way.”

5. Answer the real objection. Since objections often request more information, you can usually answer them with statements of fact. You can answer most objections by an explanation or by pointing out compensating factors. Occasionally, you must resort to more sophisticated measures, such as:

Boomerang: The boomerang turns the objection into a reason to buy.

Prospect: I am afraid your firm is too big for a company my size.

Accountant: I can understand your concern. We are larger than your present firm. That may be the very reason why you should engage us. We can provide a growing company like yours with the variety of expertise you need not only today, but in the future.

The response started with the acknowledgment; then the accountant found something to agree with, but changed the negative judgmental expression “too big” to the neutral factual statement “we are larger than your present firm.” The accountant followed with the boomerang statement “That may be the very reason you should engage us.” Finally, he or she finished with a benefit to the prospect.

  • Correction. Correction is appropriate when the objection is incorrect. This would be when the accountant did not properly or adequately explain some aspect of their proposal.

Note that I did not say “the prospect simply misunderstood the accountant.” As assistant buyer the burden of being understood is solely on the accountant. Correction might also be appropriate when the prospect states false information he or she received from another source. But do not just say “You are wrong.” Give the correct information in a positive manner.

  • Agreement. Sometimes the objection is merely a comment. As mentioned earlier there may be times when you should simply agree with the comment.

Example: “Yes we are expensive. But you know that old joke about there being four things you should never buy from the lowest bidder: Heart surgery, fire extinguishers, parachutes, and accountants. You don’t shop around for the cheapest surgeon you can find, do you? After all, we are talking about your business. You want the best accountants to help you take care of your business.”

  • Prejudiced or uninformed objections. You can best answer prejudiced or uninformed objections by asking prospects why they feel that way or where they got their information.

You may not always succeed in winning these people as clients, but you will have the satisfaction of effectively confronting and possibly defusing a slanderous rumour that may have survived.

6. Confirm your answer. Ask the prospect if he or she is satisfied with your response. “Terry,

did I cover that to your satisfaction?” If yes, go on with your next step. If no, you have more work to do. Go back to step 2 and clarify the objection.

Normally the prospect responds to a confirmation in one of three ways:

  • Agreement, such as, “Yes, I can see that this would save us a lot of money.” If the client agrees, you can frequently go right to the close (covered in the next chapter).
  • Disagreement, such as restating the original objection or raising a new objection. If the client disagrees, handle the objection or new objection again, in a new unit of time, giving them new information so they can make a new decision.
  • Non-committal, such as, “Well, I don’t know…” When the prospect is non-committal, probe for more specific concerns.