Handling Objections … a critical skill

Once you have your foot firmly in the customer’s door (joking) there are only two absolutely critical requirements to successfully concluding any B2B sale, no matter how big or small.

They are, knowing how to handle objections, and closing.

Of course introducing yourself, ascertaining the prospect’s real requirements and benefit selling, play an integral role and must come first … but mastering the art of handling objections and knowing how to close the sale are absolutely essential.

In my experience with these skills in place a suitably trained B2B sales person in a face-to-face situation will close at least 50 per cent of all qualified leads – and often achieve much better results.

Some experienced sales persons develop their own techniques over time but in all instances the tactic/s they devise must either handle an objection and/or progress the presentation towards the ultimate destination, i.e. securing an order.

My personal favourite is a variation of the ‘If’ Close – see later.

I have always been trained that there are in fact three classical ways to handle any objection. It is sobering to reflect that the basics of professional selling have been known for well over 100 years. Some things never change. They are:

#1 Re-phrase the Objection
#2 Third Party Referral
#3 Partial Agreement

Not sure of the order – but it pays to know them all.

Role Playing

Let’s examine a very common objection … handled in the differing ways.


“Your product is too expensive.”

Sales Person:

#1 Re-phrase the Objection

“I think what you’re saying is that the upfront price is more than you expected?”

#2 Third Party Referral

“Joe Blow also said that. But when he checked the re-sale value he realised the lifetime cost of our product was actually less expensive.”

NB: Make sure ‘Joe Blow’ is someone the prospect knows about and admires. Never tell a market leader that your JB is in fact one of their competitors.

#3 Partial Agreement

“I agree the upfront price is higher but the overall lifetime cost is actually cheaper.”

NB: Never, ever tell a prospect that his objection is completely unfounded. You may win the debate … but you will never get an order this way.

Partial closes

Prospects find it easier to agree to a partial close … since they feel they are not committing themselves fully.

Most sales people find it much easier to use partial closes.

e.g. “Will you want a red or yellow model?”

If the prospect agrees to a long list of partial closes … it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to avoid the logical conclusion, i.e. placing an order.

Now my old favourite, the ‘If’ Close

“If I could show you that our lifetime cost is actually better than anyone else would you order our product?”

As you can see it’s actually a combination of the three classical responses linked to a ‘partial’ close.

Video Role Playing

Probably very old hat now, but I introduced video role playing for training B2B sales staff over 20 years ago.

And Mr Smith buying widgets wasn’t good enough … we used actual deals we were working on.

Of course, we used the objection handling and closing techniques above but added the psychological profile of well known customers for added authenticity.


CONTRIBUTOR – Andrew M Connery: A B2B marketing practitioner by profession and former Federal Vice-President of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI). Until July 2011 he was a Senior Trainer for the Federal Government’s Small Business Online program. Andrew’s latest project is a joint venture with Barnetts Couriers to introduce 24/7 smart lockers for online purchases.

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