Skills + Stories: Two Solutions For Handling Sales Objections

By: Linda Richardson | 2003-04-17

My institution is small and not very well known among customers at this point. How can I handle fundamental objections such as, "We prefer to work with organizations we already have a relationship with," or "I haven't heard of you before"?

The good news is that you are getting through to the decision makers. There are two things to work on to help you overcome these obstacles:

1. Skills: The skills you need to resolve an objection. Try this process to show your prospects you are listening and are interested in them vs. pushing a product. This is much easier said than done but with a few tries, it truly changes the dialogue.

a. Acknowledge the objection. Your prospects have a point - so, show you respect it.
"I can appreciate that you have that preference", or "I understand that you may not be familiar with us".

b. Ask a question for two reasons - to learn more, since most objections are broad and there is usually a more specific underlying issue, and to engage the client and help foster openness.
"To see if there is any value that we can add, may I ask with whom you are working"? What kinds of things do they provide"? (More acknowledgement and ask questions as required) or "May I ask what your concerns are about not having heard of us"?

c. Position your response. While you may feel you know the answers to these questions, you will gain insights that allow you to truly tailor your response.

d. Check for client feedback. "How does that address your concern?"

2. Story: Be prepared to effectively position/credentialize your organization/capabilities. Tailor what you say to the prospect's needs. Don't just spray paint an answer. Make it graphic, prospect benefit-oriented, concise, and interactive by checking for feedback.

About the Author: Linda Richardson: President and CEO of Richardson, training consultants to corporations, banks, and investment banks globally. Richardson has 110 professionals, 15 regional offices in the United States, and presence in London, Australia, Singapore, Latin America, and Asia. Clients of Richardson include KPMG, Federal Express, General Mills, Tiffany & Co., Dell Computer, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Citibank, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, and Kinko's. Visit