The best tip ever for handling all sales objections!

Let’s say the prospect is listening to your pitch and says, “You know, I had a bad experience with your company a few years ago.”  What do you say now?

Before we get into this discussion, let’s agree that in most objections there is some level of emotion involved. Certainly there is in this case. A bad prior experience will certainly contain some lingering emotional memory—the rude salesperson, unmet expectations, a defective product, poor service and so on.

So your response is probably to say, “I’m very sorry to hear that. Please tell me what happened.” And if that is your answer I won’t argue with you.  Well done.

But there is something else you should consider that is far more powerful, and that involves the timing of your words.  This is very hard to do, so pay close attention.

When you hear an emotional objection, don’t say anything at all!

That’s right; pause before you speak, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…” ought to do it. And of course maintain a serious, interested countenance. Don’t look away or appear frustrated or annoyed.  You’re concerned, taking this as an important issue.

Here are four helpful reasons why you should pause before you respond:

1)      When you fail to answer immediately, it lets the customer continue talking.  If he wants to elaborate, that’s just fine. Let him. Allowing a brief pause after the objection gives the customer this great opportunity to continue.  In my own experience this is sometimes enough, as customers will often solve the matter themselves.  “It’s probably not that big a deal; I shouldn’t even have brought it up.” Or, “Of course that’s water over the dam at this point. Not sure why I mention it now.”  Your silence allows the customer to self-discover.

2)      It demonstrates to the customer that you have taken the objection seriously. It’s a sign of respect and helps maintain rapport.  The customer will see that you are giving the matter some thought and not being defensive or combative, attacking with a glib answer.

3)      The next thing you say will be important, so it gives you additional time to think. Next you are going to make a statement of empathy.  Think about how you want to phrase it.

4)      The pause also tends to reduce the emotional tension in the conversation, restoring calm, which is just what you need.  Objections generally have some emotion attached to them.  You want to restore the quiet, tension-free level that preceded the objection in order to advance your sale.  Some salespeople think it’s important to counter an objection with a snappy comeback, so you look prepared and informed.  Not so.  The risk of the snappy comeback is that you cause the customer to think you are arguing with him.  Be careful.

When you practice handling objections in role play, whether you are a sales manager or sales trainer, note the timing of the performers. Encourage them to pause before they speak. Model it for them first so they can see its power.  This is easy to understand, but hard to execute. Try it.

Star of stage and screen!

Ribs at Fox Studio 04-18-2014Those of you who know me well are aware that outside of my business, I’m a pretty dedicated distance runner.  On Boston Marathon Monday last week, our Dallas Fox 4 TV station invited me to comment on the race, a year after the tragic bombing incident.  If you’re interested you can see me here.

Meanwhile, remember to…

Think Like Your Customer!

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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