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Objections vs. Excuses

3 min readMay 31, 2021

Objections. They’re a pretty hot topic (did that sentence make you feel like you had on a Nirvana shirt?).

The other day, I heard an ad on the radio from some guy who claimed to be “the world’s best sales trainer.” He was selling his sales program, and said he could teach you how to overcome objections. He sounded like a jackass.

I think we all need to take a breath and think about how archaic it sounds to “overcome” an objection. I’ve been to my fair share of therapy and somehow this type of language isn’t used in that arena. You can overcome your own difficulties, but you can’t overcome someone else’s point of view. Steam-rolling right over someone isn’t how you’re supposed to start a meaningful relationship.

Where I think many people lose the plot is when they fail to recognize an excuse versus an objection. I don’t believe that objections should be “overcome.” I do, however, believe that excuses can and should be dealt with more directly.

Earlier in my career, I worked for a tiny start up. It was primarily outbound cold calling, and no one knew who we were or even what we did, since it was a newer category on the market. I realized that there was never enough time to properly explain what we did, so I took another approach: I led with results. “We helped customer X increase their win rate by Y% and based on , I believe we can help you too…”

Often when I’d pitch to someone in that way, not saying one word about what we do, they’d respond with something like this: “Thanks, but we already have a provider that does that for us.”

I realized that this wasn’t an objection at all. It was an excuse. And the best way to deal with it was by calling it out.

So I’d then ask something like “Have you heard of ?” and they’d either say yes or no. If they said yes, then I’d ask “Can you describe what we do?” And if they said “No,” then I’d ask “If you don’t know who we are, then how can you know what we do?” The excuse would unravel pretty quickly, and I had success booking meetings and eventually closing business because I’d recognized an excuse for what it was.

Think about your business. What’s an excuse, and what’s an objection?

When I think of an objection, there’s a legitimate reason for the prospect to bring up a blocker or concern. Unless you fully understand why they’re objecting (you should always ask for clarification even if you think you know) and have valuable information about why their perceived objection might not be relevant, don’t try to force your will on them.

Look to see if there’s another way to work together, and if not, then try to find a time when that objection will be resolved. Maybe they’re waiting for another contract to expire, or to get budget. Sowing the seeds of a good relationship now and revisiting it later is more valuable in the case of a true objection, because if you’re just trying to get around or ignore a real issue, then you’re just trying to win a prospect who won’t be a good customer in the long run.

Identifying objections vs. excuses may seem like a simple idea, but it could change the way you sell for good. I encourage you to try it out!