6 Strategies for Overcoming and Handling Objections on the Telephone

We spoke to two industry veterans in sales and customer service to get their take on handling tricky objections.

1. Make sure you understand the objection

It’s very easy for telesales people to hear an objection and quickly go on the offensive, throwing unnecessary information at clients.

We have two ears for listening and one mouth for talking – evaluate what is being said, and take the time to clarify so you can be sure you’re about to handle the right objection.

The second part of this is making sure that the objection is real. More often than not, a prospect will throw something at you because it’s easier than telling you what is going on in their mind. I call these ‘primary objections’, and they’re frequently false.

What we are looking for is the ‘why’ behind the objection. If someone says they can’t afford the purchase, is that because they don’t see the value? Maybe they don’t want to make the wrong purchase? Or do they think it won’t really will solve the problem they have?

2. Get ahead of further objections

In my experience, most clients need to be closed at least five times, if not more. Just because you’ve answered one objection doesn’t mean you’ve answered them all.

If your prospect doesn’t become a customer, then there is something you’ve overlooked. Simply asking for the sale will show this.

Put yourself in the mind of the client: “Do I really have a problem that needs solving? If so, is this the product for me? Is there a better one out there? Is this the right person to buy this product from? What will people think of me for making this purchase?”

The list is endless!

Once you’ve handled one objection, why not ask, “is there anything else you’re concerned about?” 99% of the time the client will tell you.

3. Build the customer’s confidence in you

Once we know we are on the right track, we can start to provide whatever information the prospect needs to boost confidence in making the purchase. This might be a case study or some product information.

Or they may need more information about who you are and why you are the person to deliver this service for them.

The prospect needs to have 100% confidence in:

  • Your product’s ability to solve their problems
  • Your product’s quality
  • You

This is the holy trinity of sales.

Making sure that you understand these issues, and that you can resolve them, is going to help you increase your closing rate. I always say to the people I train, “unless you can create value above the cost of the product, you are going struggle to close to your full potential.”

4. Practise, Practise, Practise

“Practise, practise, practise, until you can answer every objection upside down and inside out with complete confidence. Understanding that your client has a perceived risk in every purchase they make, and then eliminating that risk as much as you can, is one of the key points of sales.”


Paul Lunny

Clients like to buy from the expert – it gives them the assurance they need that they are making the right decision. Who do you want performing your surgery, the medical student or the surgeon who has performed the operation thousands of times?

With thanks to Paul Lunny

5. Apologise when something goes wrong

“In my experience of customer service environments, over something like 22 years, I have learned a lot about objection handling from both customers and colleagues.

There are training courses, theories and models, but the one thing that is most important and often forgotten is the art of ‘being human’. Humans have been communicating for centuries. Why should it be so difficult?”

We have all been in situations where we have been annoyed or have experienced some other negative emotion as a result of something not being quite right.

Don’t be patronising and say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Be genuinely sorry that their expectations were not met. Do this even when their expectations are unreasonable – it does not matter at this stage. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Yes, it’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s also absolutely correct.

The one thing we all have in common is that, regardless of our emotional state, we want to see a positive outcome to these situations.

Listen to what is really being asked for – offer valuable options and opinions. Treating people as humans and accepting that one person’s mindset, beliefs or values may not match your own will ensure that your experience of objection handling is, well, naturally easy.

6. Neutralise negative emotions

The person you are talking to is looking for the best outcome, regardless of the emotion behind their objection.

Recognise their emotional state, but don’t allow that to be the focus of the objection. Listen to what the real issue is: what is the desired outcome for all parties concerned?

You should always try to keep your own emotions and personal beliefs out of it and stay on point with regard to the real issue. Don’t get pulled down avenues like “how would you feel?” or “What would you do?”


Karl Wright

Remain calm and reassuring by speaking with a low, clear voice – avoid raising your voice at all costs, unless in a controlled way to regain control of the conversation.

Consider all possibilities for a resolution and then work through them until you get to the one that works. Not all possibilities can be followed through, but they should be at least considered – focus on what you can do to rectify the situation.

With thanks to Karl Wright, Head of Customer Contact for VocaLink

Visit our Top 25 Positive Words, Phrases and Empathy Statements

What techniques do you use to overcome sales objections?

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Published On: 7th Dec 2016 - Last modified: 19th Sep 2019
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