Objections: What They Are & What They're Not

It's been said over and over again : The most powerful response to an objection is "why?"






Objection handling is all about looking past the tip of the iceberg. That old cliche is right in at least one way. Why is an important response to any objection - but that why goes both ways.

You, as the salesperson, ask your prospect why they feel the way that they do. Meanwhile, your prospect is asking why should I do business with you?

Objection Handling 101: LAER

How to handle objections comes down to a simple acronym: LAER.

  • Listen to their surface-level objection and concerns.
  • Acknowledge what your prospect is saying by summarizing and empathizing with it.
  • Explore and clarify the underlying message driving the objection.
  • Respond only once you have three things: (1) memory of their initial objection, (2) knowledge of the underlying force driving the objection, and (3) the tools you would need to effectively overcome that objection.

That being said, there are a few categorical objections: pricing, competition, awareness, and the dreaded shutdown.

A Pricing Objection

You hear something like:

  • “I can get a cheaper alternative.”
  • “I need to use this budget somewhere else.”

The underlying message: Your prospect has an underlying concern around the value of your product/service.

How to respond to a pricing objection: Clarify what exactly your prospect thinks that he/she will get after paying this “hefty” price tag. What does your prospect perceive as a good value? What products/services does your prospect deem in the “right” price range? How do those products compare to yours? Does your prospect understand the ROI that he/she can expect?

A Competition Objection

You hear something like:

  • “I’m locked into a contract with your competitor.”
  • “I’m already working with another vendor.”
  • “I’m happy with what we’ve got right now.”

The underlying message:  This is a relevant prospect with a high potential to buy your product/service. They know the base-level benefits that it can provide. They see the value in using it. It just so happens that they’re already being served by a competitor.

How to respond to a competition objection: This is your moment to educate your prospect on the key differentiators of your product/service. Ask questions about their current provider. What are the benefits of working with them? Are there any areas where they could improve? Why did your prospect choose their current provider in the first place? Quantify it - what is your prospect getting from your competitor and how can you give them even more?

An Awareness Objection

You hear something like:

  • “I’ve never heard of you guys before.”
  • “I don’t have the time/resources to devote to this.”
  • “It’s not a priority right now.”
  • “I don’t see what makes you guys special.”
  • “I’ve heard [insert complaint] from [insert competitor/former customer].”

The underlying message:  These kinds of objections are a signal of incomprehension. Your prospect misunderstands who you are/what you do/why you’re worth giving time out of his/her day.

How to respond to an awareness objection: Iron out these misunderstandings with a healthy dose of empathy. After all, it’s understandable why a prospect wouldn’t want to hear you out if they have misconceptions about your product/service or if they’re simply caught in the whirlwind of business. Their concerns are valid and you should not dismiss them.

A Shutdown Objection

You hear something like:

  • “I don’t have time for this.”
  • *Click*
  • “I’m not interested.”
  • “Call me back next quarter.”

The underlying message: Your prospect is just trying to get you off their back. They’re not interested in hearing you out - at least not yet.

How to respond to a shutdown - Try to reach your prospect through alternative channels. Use social selling tactics such as sending them interesting articles via LinkedIn periodically, engaging with them on Twitter, etc. Try again once they’re a little more receptive.

If you’re really offering a solution to a problem your prospect is facing, asking questions is consultative - not an interrogation. Don’t be like Olaf. Instead, when exploring objections, clarify with the objector... uncover what they are really seeing.

The Dos and Don’ts of Objection Handling


  • Take your time - Never answer a question until you fully understand why it’s being asked in the first place.
  • Tailor your approach based on the type of objection - Guide the prospect towards asking relevant, rational questions while steering them away from emotional or irrelevant questions.
  • Bring it down to the concrete facts - Understand where they’re at now, where they’d like to be, and how you can bring them to that desired state. Quantify the ROI that your prospect can expect from working with you.
  • Use LAER - Listen, acknowledge, explore, respond.


  • Make assumptions - A lot of deals are lost on ambiguity. You’re not a mind reader, especially if you’re not in the presence of the prospect.
  • Try to get it all done in the moment - Offering answers to questions that weren’t even asked is a sure way to get dismissed by your prospect.
  • Get Generic in Your Approach - People have a tendency to fall into pitch mode, focusing on product features rather than the value they could provide that’s specific to the organization.

As I said at the top: Objection handling is about seeing past the tip of the iceberg.

On the surface, an objection looks like:

  • Rejection
  • The prospect’s permanent viewpoint
  • A personal attack

But in reality, objections are:

  • A request for more information
  • A chance to get inside the mind of your prospect
  • A chance to build a stronger relationship

Great salespeople strive to turn failed sales calls into case studies. You may not have made the sale, but that doesn’t mean that the experience can’t give you valuable insight to bring with you on the next call.

Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States