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The art of selling through objection

Joe Houle

Joe Houle

We have all heard the cliché, “Things aren’t always as they appear.” Like most phrases, we tuck them away in the back of our brain until sometime later, we finally realize what they mean and can apply this “epiphany” to our advantage.


I was recently at a sales-related function and a top executive from one of my competitors was telling me there was no value in cold calling. Inside, I was smiling, but kept a serious demeanor to respect “his” position and learn from this perspective. If you have read my past articles or attended any of my speaking engagements, I am a strong proponent of the cold-call for many reasons. Some of these reasons are not apparent to most sales people or even company executives.

Look, we’re in sales. Objection is 90 percent of our waking hours. More if you approach exhibit sales with traditional and outdated strategies. Attitude is everything and objection is great. Let me help you succeed as an account executive and grow your company by teaching you the art of selling through objection.

First, put “objection” into personal perspective. This will help you better relate to your client. How many products and services do we research and reject before buying something? Take buying a car for instance. Are we going to drive off the lot in the first automobile a car salesman shows us? Absolutely not. We’re going to do our research, test drive a few, decide what features we want and at what price, and then purchase. What is the difference when choosing an exhibit or related services?

Second, understand the difference between objection and buyer resistance. In many cases, a perceived objection is simply Buyer Resistance and this is a golden sales opportunity. Unfortunately, most AEs that I come across don’t understand this difference and thus fail to see the opportunity. They see anything “negative” as rejection and simply quit. This is 90 percent of our industry’s sales force and a sad statistic.

Buyer Resistance is actually a cry for help from our prospects so seize the moment! They aren’t saying “no” but want you to probe without saying it. This is where the true sales pro turns it on. For example, a common sign of buyer resistance is, “I love your design and it would help our sales, but we can’t afford it.” When this occurs, don’t hesitate to ask, “What do you mean?” The client just said it would help their sales efforts. This is where AEs get to isolate the real issue and move in for the close. On the price issue, companies will pay more for marketing tools that turn into sales dollars. This is your opportunity to establish your company’s value in the mind of the customer. Whether it’s price or design, isolate the issue and use that to close the sale.

As professional AEs, we can’t overlook the “real” objection. Most exhibit company AEs get so caught up in the features and benefits of their design that they forget to listen. When objection occurs in a live sales presentation, slow down and pace your presentation, listening to your client’s words. More sales are lost, not because of inadequate design or services proposals, but because objections and questions remain unanswered during your presentation. Stop and listen attentively. Sales are simple.

Lastly, look at your clients’ cause for objection. This will help AEs to better understand how to position themselves and their company to progress the sales process. This is also “key” to eliminating competitors in bidding situations. Let’s look at some common causes for objection.

Some prospects object simply out of habit. They receive countless calls from exhibit company AEs spewing the features and benefits of their company. This often occurs on a daily basis. All the prospect hears on the other end of the line is, “Blah, blah, blah, exhibits.” Habits are hard to break, but if you handle them correctly, you will get the edge up on your competition.

Another cause for objection is fear. Your prospect (future client) doesn’t know your company that well. Although their current supplier isn’t meeting their expectations from a design and service perspective, they would rather work with the “known devil” rather than the “unknown devil.” This cause for objection is easily overcome with patience, respect and tactful positioning on the part of the AE.
In every sales call and presentation, you have to anticipate and look forward to objections. Clients want to better their situation and that’s why they allow you to present. Listen to your prospect’s objection and present value over price. This will help you cross the finish line ahead of your competition.

Joe Houle is Vice President of Strategic Development for LAB Exhibits. Joe is a top Sales Professional and sought after Public Speaker. Please contact Joe directly at jhoule@lbexhibits.com or at 708-305-0220.

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