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Posted: August 17, 2012

Smile when customers say, “I object!”

They're right where you want 'em

Julie Hansen

You don’t have to be in sales to hate objections, but it helps. Why do we hate them or at best, dislike them? 

An objection is defined as an expression of opposition or disagreement. In other words, it creates conflict.  And most people don’t like conflict. When a customer or prospect throws out an objection, you can almost see a solid line appear: salesperson on one side and prospect firmly entrenched on the other. The word “objection” itself conjures up a heated courtroom scene, a hostile confrontation between the defense and the prosecution where “sustained” or “overruled” seem to be the only options on the table. Not exactly an ideal scenario for collaborating on a solution!

It is the way in which we deal—or don’t deal—with objections that can determine our success as sellers; therefore, it’s critical to have not only the right tools for handling them but also the right mindset. I’ve been exposed to scores of objection-handling techniques over the years, some excellent, some silly, but one thing ­is clear: If you don’t have the right mindset, your odds of success are significantly lessened. And the right mindset includes anticipating and welcoming objections.

If this seems impossible, consider this:  According to a well-known study, prospects that buy have 58 percent more objections than those that don’t. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to have a prospect throw out a dozen objections than one “I don’t care!”  

One way to make friends with objections is to reframe them as obstacles.  In the acting world, obstacles are anything that gets in the way of a character achieving his goal.  Obstacles play a critical role in drama because they keep an audience engaged and interested. Imagine a movie where the protagonist faces no obstacles:  “Jerry McGuire quits his job as a successful sports agent to open his own agency, immediately picks up a dozen new clients and laughs his way to the bank. ” That would be a short, poorly attended movie! 

Conflict, situations that seem hopeless, tasks that seem daunting – these are the things that create curiosity and interest.  “How will it all work out?” we wonder.  We become invested in the story line and the outcome.  As an actor I learned the importance of welcoming obstacles and how to leverage them as an opportunity for further drawing the audience in. As a salesperson, I’ve found that same mindset to be equally effective.

Unlike objections, obstacles imply a more workable situation: a temporary roadblock between you and your prospect.  Rather than engaging in point /counterpoint with your prospect (which typically only serves to entrench them further in their position) you simply consider every possible way across, around, over or through.  Objections are a natural part of the selling cycle as buyers try to sort through their options, weigh wants and needs and justify their decisions.  To dread or fear objections and hope they don’t come up is akin to expecting the sun to set in the east.  If we want to be successful, it’s important to learn to love them, embrace them, or at the very least, shake hands with them to keep the sale moving forward.

So the next time you hear “I object,” smile.  You’ve got your audience right where you want them. 

Julie Hansen helps sales and business executives differentiate their solution and deliver winning presentations by leveraging proven performance skills from film, stage and improv.  The founder of Performance Sales and Training, Julie’s techniques have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM, Oracle, SAP and local Colorado companies to gain a competitive selling edge.  Julie is an international speaker, sales trainer and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro!  Learn more about workshops and keynotes at, start a sales conversation at  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

You are spot on when you say it's all about the mentality. You need to be able to see life from multiple perspectives. good read By Shiftins on 2012 08 17
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