Let’s talk about the word “objection.”
In sales, it’s usually preceded by either “handling” or “overcoming.” (Occasional mention: “eliminating,” or “crushing”).
But “handling” someone’s objection treats that person as an object—an obstacle to be overcome.
Worse, it trivializes and minimizes the person’s often-genuine concern by turning it into a puzzle-game to be solved by the seller. “Crushing” someone’s objection is the more honest version of the same thing.
So—don’t do that. Instead, take a tip from our canine friends.
After eating his dinner, my dog Sammy often approaches me and brings up—The Objection. The Objection is raised ears, cocked head, eyes fixed on mine—frozen in place.
He’s telling me something’s wrong—or at least not right. He’s very good at articulating The Objection—I get that something’s not right. I just have no clue what it means. (And sometimes, he doesn’t either. )
Sometimes he licks his chops—an easy one, I think. “More food?” Nope.
“Okay,” (switch to that highly inflected baby talk we use with dogs), “want to go for a ride in the car and a walk?” Nope.
"A rawhide cigarette?" No. " Play with your rope toy? " No. "A nice petting?" No.
We have our checklist. If it’s food or water or a walk he needs, we figure it out pretty quickly.
But it’s rarely just about the food or water. It’s also about the ritual. The connection. Sometimes, it’s only about the connection.
He’s a social animal—he needs his people fix. The Objection is his fix. (If you’re a dog lover, you know it’s your fix too.)
If Sammy needs a connection fix, and I only give him food and treats, I will soon have a dysfunctional dog on my hands. Neurotic, or disobedient, or sullen—maybe even dangerous; maybe just sad. But certainly unconnected.
Hey, he’s just a dog, some might say. But dogs, like people, live up—or down—to expectations. If your dog’s “just a dog,” you made him that way.
When buyers voice The Objection—do we run down the checklist? Aim for efficient answer-guessing? Do we say, “and if I could get you [the food, the water, the treat], then would you be ready to buy?” Then we’re not honoring the connection.
“Handling” objections is treating buyers like “just a dog”—devaluing the connection. But the need for connection runs deep in people.
From the days of the bazaar to now, people don’t buy blindly. That’s why eBay rates sellers, and we pay a lot more for branded water (which—think about it—is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and easily available for free).
Dogs are slower to blame, and quicker to forgive, than buyers. They react even worse to being treated “like dogs.”
Objections aren’t “objections:” they are buyer-initiated invitations for connection. Unless it’s a pack of gum at the newspaper stand, or a tank of gas, we want that connection in our buying. It is not, repeat not, about just guessing the right "need."
Instead of “handling” their objection, thank them for the invitation to dialogue.
Then get into it. Find out what’s behind it. What are they worried about? Why does that matter? How does that work? What happens then? What’s at stake for the client?
If your goal as salesperson is to help your client, then you are on the same side. It’s not a contest, it’s a relationship. This is the ritual of relationships that we do to create trust—so that we can do business.