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Objection? Yeah, maybe.

The ask: “Will you go out with me this weekend?”

Some possible answers:

  • “Yes!”
  • “I can’t. I promised to have dinner with my mom and dad Saturday night.”
  • “Never in a billion years, you toad!”

At the risk of having readers relive high school torment, this is a pretty fair assessment of asking for the order in sales.

 The first answer is a win: We’re going to the dance and all is right with the world. It’s the latter two that cause us consternation.

There is a significant difference between an objection and a rejection. Sales people regularly bang their heads against the wall because they haven’t been shown the difference.

With an objection, buyers usually see the possibility of ownership and most likely want to buy, but have legitimate obstacles that inhibit it. They usually understand the value of the product, its features, benefits and its potential impact on their situation. The problem is that something stands in the way of their obtaining your solution. It could be affordability, a boss that has a different product preference, a timing issue, a touch of incredulity that the product will work exactly as you say — any number of things.

The point is the need is there: The product fits, they understand its value and they want it. They are at a loss as to how to make the transaction work. Objections can be overcome. In our example above: Change to lunch, change to Sunday, invite the parents along, change any of the parameters that make the situation unworkable. Don’t abandon the effort! Solve the problem!

A rejection is different.

The solution being presented doesn’t fit the circumstances and the client knows it. The product doesn’t meet the buying criteria and probably also mismatches other considerations or, more importantly, the dominant buying motive. There is almost nothing the salesperson can do or say that will change that; only a change in the nature of the prospect’s problem will.

The dutiful salesperson, however, soldiers on anyway, changing terms, offering concessions and ultimately annoying the prospect and getting themselves worked up. The prospect was never a buyer of this solution to begin with.

Clearly identifying whether you’re running up against an objection or rejection will improve performance and mitigate the frustration of both prospect and salesperson. Even knowing that, being prepared and confident is what makes it work.

Knowing this would have made high school easier, eh?

Patrick Morin is the president and COO of BrightHammer, a team of experts that work directly with company leaders nationwide to develop and implement sales strategy, deliver targeted sales training and effect sales-oriented culture changes. Email him here, or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.