Responding (not reacting) to objections (part 2)

Known for his Dale Carnegie training expertise, Terry Siebert is writing to inspire leaders to reach their greatest potential. Leadership, today more than ever, may mean the difference between closing the doors or opening new markets. Every month, he'll post help with mindset, business tools and more. Read Full Bio

In my last blog, we went through the first three steps of the objection-handling process.

To summarize:

Step 1: Cushion
Cushion the objection with a statement that empathizes with the customer’s concern. In its most basic form, the cushion says, “I hear you.” It does not agree or disagree.

Step 2: Clarify the objection
If you are not 100% sure what the customer’s real concern is, be sure to clarify it for yourself. The “help me understand …” question works very well for this purpose.

Step 3: Identify hidden objections
Make sure that you have all genuine concerns on the table and all “smoke-screen objections” off the table.

Step 4: Respond

As I mentioned in my last blog, many amateur salespeople start with this step by reacting (fight or flight) to the initial objection. If the previous three steps were done right, you are now ready to respond. There are four suggested approaches in this step:

1) Deny and explain: If the customer has said something that is absolutely not true about your company, product, or service, it is a must to deny what he or she said. In addition, to back up your response, you should give an explanation (provide evidence) why you say what you say. For example, he or she may have mentioned that your lead times are three to four weeks when they are never less than one week. Here you would need to show proof of your one-week timing.

2) Admit and explain: If you hear an objection from a customer that is true, DO NOT beat around the bush – ADMIT IT! Dale Carnegie said, “If you make a mistake, admit it quickly and emphatically.” Obviously, if this is the case, you better darn well have a solid explanation of why the screw-up will never happen again.

3) Reverse and explain: This approach turns the reasoning for objecting into reasoning to go ahead. It is really powerful in response to the price objection, especially in cases where your product provides a better value. We have worked with several companies that have a reputation in their industry for being the highest priced. Here is how a response might sound in the case of a major equipment purchase:

“You’re right. If you look at the initial purchase price, we are higher. And that is exactly the reason to be moving ahead with us. If you compare ongoing maintenance of our equipment vs. Brand X over three years, you will find that the payback will occur early in year one.” Again, it would be important to show the evidence to back this up.

4) Straight explanation: In this response, a plain explanation of why the objection is not valid will suffice.

Step 5 (finally): Trial close

After responding, you will want to make sure that the customer buys in to your response. The words would be some variation of, “So how does that sound?” If the process worked, you will get a positive response and go on to the next phase of the sale.


Does this five-step process work every time? I don’t think so. However, I can assure you that it does work much better that the reactionary fight-or-flight response that I see so often. And that results in more business!

Good selling!

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