Selling - overcoming objections

Selling - overcoming objections

In the last of our series on successful selling for Virtual Assistants, Eric Alston shows us how to handle objections and get another chance to convince a client of the benefits of our services

As I pointed out last time, objections can arise at any time during the selling process, even as early as the introduction, “I don’t have time to talk to sales people” is a classic example.

There are a number of objections which are, more or less, standard:-

  1. “It’s too expensive”
  2. “We don’t need it”
  3. “We are satisfied with what we use now”
  4.  “We like our present supplier”
  5. “I haven’t time to talk to you”
  6. “Your delivery is too slow”
  7. “I can’t afford it”
  8. “It wouldn’t fit into our system”

These and other objections are caused by LACK of KNOWLEDGE or UNDERSTANDING on the part of the client. What he really means in each of the above is this:-

  2. HE CANNOT SEE a USE for it
  3. HE CANNOT SEE how it is BETTER than what he uses now
  4. HE CANNOT SEE how a change of supplier, or product, would improve his situation
  5. HE CANNOT SEE a good REASON to talk to you
  6. HE CANNOT SEE WHY he should wait longer for delivery
  7. HE CANNOT SEE a WAY of paying for it
  8. HE CANNOT SEE HOW it would fit into his systems

To the comment that your service is too expensive you could say something like this:-

“Well I agree with you, Mr. (Customer) it is (expensive) and if I were you I would probably feel the same way about it as you do. Obviously you have to watch your costs because they affect your profits don’t they?”
 “And as a (businessman) it’s profit you’re mainly concerned about ISN’T IT?”
 “But as a (businessman) IF YOU THOUGHT that in spite of the high price you would make more profit in the end, you would be perfectly happy to pay it, WOULDN’T YOU?

Using this form of words gives you the opportunity to have another chance to satisfy your customer’s concerns by representing part of your sales proposition or perhaps by quoting some additional information to strengthen your case, so you could go on to say:-

 “So what you are looking for is some ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE that you would (make more profit), isn’t it?”

You can now go on to present your additional information which should lead naturally to asking for the business. In reality there are only two sorts of objection, those you can overcome and those you can’t! If you know you have the acceptable evidence that will convince your customer, go ahead and use it but if you know that you do not have an answer to his objection admit it and take your leave, hopefully retaining his respect and goodwill so that he will give you a hearing on a future occasion when you may have the sort of product or service he needs.

  1. Looking back at our handling of the objection so far, let’s see what have we achieved:-
  2. We avoided a confrontation and a possible argument by APPEARING TO AGREE
  3. We ACKNOWLEDGED the objection
  4. We got HIS AGREEMENT that if there were some ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE which met his requirements he would buy the product
  5. We committed him to the objection

Note: The words IF YOU THOUGHT provided the pivot on which we balanced the  two main factors in the situation
  (a) his objection
  (b) the possible answer to it

“… you may be (SATISFIED) but IF YOU THOUGHT you could (DO BETTER)…”

“…it is (DIFFERENT) to the way you do it at present but IF YOU THOUGHT it would (SPEED UP THE JOB and SAVE YOU MONEY)…”


Handling objections is so important that it is worth taking the time to learn the technique. Here are two examples of it in action:-

What to say – Example 1

Customer: “I have nothing against your firm or your product but I AM QUITE HAPPY with things as they are at present”
You: Well I would AGREE WITH YOU Mr. (Customer), (if everything is to your satisfaction and you cannot see any good reason to change) obviously you will wish to leave well alone. In your situation I WOULD FEEL THE SAME WAY. Clearly, YOU WOULD WANT A GOOD REASON to change WOULDN’T YOU?”
(pause for reply)
“But IF THERE WAS A GOOD ENOUGH REASON to change I suppose YOU WOULD DO SO, wouldn’t you?”
Customer: “Well I suppose so.”
You: SO, WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS that IF YOU THOUGHT the (reason for changing was good enough) you would (make the change), is that about the size of it?”
Customer: “Well, if you put it like that.”
You:  “So, WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR is some ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE that you would (benefit from the change), isn’t it?”
(Pause for reply)

What to say – Example 2

Customer: “It all sounds very nice but it is far too expensive”
You: Well I AGREE WITH YOU Mr. (Customer), (it certainly isn’t cheap) I daresay there are cheaper services on the market and IF (PRICE) WERE THE ONLY CONSIDERATION, you would use them, WOULDN’T YOU?”
(pause for reply)
Customer: “Well I suppose so.”
You:  “But AS A BUSINESSMAN concerned about (the profitability of your business)   you are also  concerned about the (QUALITY AND EFFECTIVENESS) of the   products you buy, AREN’T YOU?”
Customer:  “That’s true I suppose
You: So, AS A BUSINESSMAN, concerned about (quality and effectiveness) IF YOU THOUGHT  that in spite of the (high price) you would improve the (efficiency and profitability) of your business you would be (perfectly happy to pay it), WOULDN’T YOU?”
Customer: “Well, of course.”
You:  “So, WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR is some ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE that you would (be better off), by (paying the higher price) isn’t it?”
(Pause for reply)

In neither of these two situations are you being “pushy”. It is a logical and sensible approach to an objection which was raised in good faith. Whether or not you can capitalise on the new opportunity to convince your client depends on the quality of your ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE.


  • Step 2 THE APPROACH“…Tell me…”
  • RESEARCH QUESTION (Finding the needs)
  • Step 3 SUMMARISING THE NEEDS “so, from what you tell me…”
  • Step 4 THE PROPOSITION “well, in that case…”
  • Step 5 ASK FOR THE ORDER “so, as you can see…”
  • Step 6 IF AN OBJECTION ARISES “well I agree with you…”
  • … THE ORDER!

Eric Alston is a former head of European sales for a major international chemical company