Overcoming Sales Resistance Areas

If you are active in the sales profession–no matter what your product or service–there comes a point when “you’ve heard it all before.” Early in your career, many objections voiced by prospects are new and novel. One of the disadvantages of being a solo practitioner (or working for a poorly run firm) is that there is no coach or mentor present to help you learn the objections via that person’s experience. Unfortunately, you usually must suffer through them yourself.

In any case, there comes a point where you should have heard virtually every objection that can possibly be levied, from “we’ve just changed our strategy” to “I was abducted by a UFO and the crab-like creature warned me not to meet with you again.” I am flabbergasted by anyone who has been in their chosen profession for more than a couple of years who still encounters objections which they can’t counter.

Don’t misunderstand: Not every objection can be overcome, but every one of them can be countered, rebutted, and refuted. You might not win that battle, but at least you can throw a punch. It’s absurd to be blindsided or to say, “Whoa–I didn’t see that one coming!” If you agree with the premise that selling began at about the time subsistence farming ended several centuries ago, then it’s logical to conclude that every objection imaginable has been created, recycled, and regurgitated ever since. (“We don’t understand technology here” or “We don’t do business overseas” is just the modern variant of “We can’t take telephone orders” and “We don’t think there’s a need for this type of pottery in Babylonia,” just like “My email must have gotten lost” is the electronic equivalent of “The dog ate my homework.”)

To make matters even simpler, there are basically four areas of resistance, within which objections arise. Consequently, developing expertise in preventing and battling the four major types of resistance will enable you to more readily counter specific objections raised within them.

The four basis areas of sales resistance

The four basic areas of resistance are:

  1. No trust: The buyer does not feel comfortable with you, and consequently prefers not to travel onward. The buyer is reluctant to share his or her true objectives, private and confidential information, past experiences, and so on. Or, even worse, the buyer tells you what you want to hear or innocuous information just to keep you at arm’s length. Most of the inability to make progress during the sales process is due to no trust, although sales people believe it’s more likely to be one of the other three areas.
  2. No need: The buyer does not recognize (or place high enough priority on) a need to take action. This usually occurs when you are trying to introduce a new initiative and not repair a current problem, since most buyers will admit to the need to fix something that’s causing them grief. But a new computer system, additional insurance, improved time management skills, or a search firm on retainer makes no sense to them because that particular alternative does not seem to address an outstanding need
  3. No urgency: The buyer may have a need–or may acknowledge a new one which you create–but feels no hurry in doing anything about it. This most commonly occurs in prospects which are currently doing quite well, so that current, temporary success is covering a multitude of sins. It can also occur when a client has several severe dilemmas, and your particular solution addresses one of relatively low priority. The urgency to fix other things will take precedence. These are frustrating prospects, because you may get complete agreement about the need to do something, but the timing is never right. And it will never be right.

No money: The buyer agrees with virtually everything you say but, alas, there simply is no budget. Most sales people consider this the most common “objection” and the most difficult to rebut. However, this area of resistance is merely the most useful to the prospect who is really digging in his heels because of one of the first three–but it’s simply easier and more final to announce that there is no money precisely because sales people are so inept at countering this argument. It’s like an umpire saying “Strike three!” as the batter watches the ball go by. You’re out of there, no appeal, end of story. Except sales is not a game of baseball, and the buyer shouldn’t be calling the pitches.