By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®The Sales Training Company

handling buyer objectionsWhile attending my initial sales training at the start of my career, there was a fair amount of time spent on handling buyer objections. The technique of choice back then was the “feel, felt, found” approach. It amounted to: 

  • Showing empathy while acknowledging the objection: “I understand how you feel.”
  • Indicating the buyer is not alone in their concern: “Others have felt that way.”
  • Tell them how others realized they were mistaken: “But they found that (summarize why the objection wasn’t valid).” 

Looking back, it seemed analogous to a matador waving a cape to fool a bull. It amounted to trying to tell a buyer why he or she is wrong in a manipulative and self-serving way.

I believe sellers often get objections while making product pitches. In doing so, sellers are in control and dominate the call. Buyers may get resentful. One of the few ways they have of wresting control (at least for a while) is by objecting to one or more features. If, on the other hand sellers first ask questions to determine buyer needs and later in calls only offer those that seem to be relevant, they likely will encounter fewer objections.

If there is an objection because a competitor has a unique feature, sellers often get defensive. My thought would be to ask the question: Why is that feature important and what benefit would it provide? If buyers can’t come up with a compelling response it may not be as important as the seller may have feared. If the buyer does have a compelling answer, it may make sense to ask if it is an absolute requirement because it may mean your offering isn’t a good fit.

It’s rare that a vendor would have a 100% fit for their offering. That means buyers have to make trade-offs in finalizing vendor decisions. My suggestion is to try to minimize the value of capabilities you don’t have and do a good job of quantifying the value of capabilities that are unique to your offering. It should be far more effective than telling buyers why they are mistaken.