Handling objections: The brush-off, cuffing and full battle

Business man in a suit holding two pieces of jigsaw which make the word challenge.

Like any other facet of sales, there are right ways and wrong ways to handle objections. Over the course of my next three articles I’ll be looking at the right ways and, as you’ll see, objections needn’t be a monster you can’t control.

Phase 1 – The brush-off

That’s right, the easiest and quickest way to quash the objections monster is to simply brush it aside. It’s a fact that most objections aren’t objections at all, at least not to begin with. They are simply small reservations, gripes or moans. And it’s these kinds of objections that should be listened to, smiled at and then brushed aside.

The minute you pay more attention than you should to this type of objection – or worse still throw out ill-thought through rebuttals – these minor quibbles will rapidly become major stumbling blocks to closing the deal.

Here’s an example of how an objection can be brushed off.

If your prospect says: “I don’t really like the thought of that product/service” your immediate response should be something like: “Yeah, I agree. It’s just a fact of life that we all have to use it (specify product/service benefits) to take care of (whatever the product/service does or takes care of)”.

Now that you’ve swatted the monster you need to make sure it’s dead, and you can do this quite simply by using a little body language confirmation. Make eye contact, raise a little smile and shrug. If you see assent in the response from your customer, then you’ve confirmed the objection has been killed.

Phase 2 – Cuffing

Cuffing is what you should do if you sense, in any way, that the first phase of objection handling – the brush-off – wasn’t totally successful. And like brushing off, it needs to be deployed quickly and casually. I’ve used the word “cuffing” here simply as an analogy for effectively acknowledging the objection and placing it in check for dealing with later. Or in other words, taking the objection monster prisoner while it is still stunned.

To do this, your conversation must go something like:

You: “Okay, I can see you’re not convinced (pause). Let’s park this to one side and come back to it later when we can discuss it in more detail.”

At this point, write down the objection on a notepad and make a point of fully acknowledging that you’ve recorded it by showing the note to your customer. And then move on.

Of course, you must deal with the issue at some stage and in my experience if the scenario has been played out as above then by the time you come back to the objection, chances are the customer is happy enough to kill it off for themselves.

Phase 3 – Full battle

So the brush-off didn’t work, and neither did the cuffing. Now’s the time to go head on into full battle and kill that objection stone dead.

The first thing to do is define the severity of the objection. Maybe start by saying:

“Okay, I can see this is still a concern for you so let’s work through this together. Tell me, what are your major concerns?”

Then repeat back to the customer the points they have defined. Often, by effectively emphasising or over-dramatizing the right words, you can make the objection sound as if there’s nothing to be concerned about in the first place.

If this doesn’t work, then you need to enter into Categorisation Selling. This is simply a process of dividing the concerns and alternative options into small, bite-sized pieces and dealing with them one by one.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t get positive feedback on all pieces – using this tried and trusted retail sales psychology, most prospects will see an overall benefit, and you’ll gain agreement.

In the next article, I’ll be looking in more detail at Categorisation Selling and at set piece plays to help you handle specific objections more rapidly and more effectively.

More sales techniques, advice and tips can be found in Doug Tucker’s book ‘Sales Commando, Unleash Your Potential’. The book gets straight to the heart of issues, complexities and opportunities and encourages and accelerates personal growth and sales success.