How to Defuse Emotion and Defensiveness From Customer Objections

Customer objections come with the sales territory (no pun intended). We earn every “yes” we receive, having at times just climbed a mountain of “no’s” to get there. Objections are all around. But we’re human—they can bug us, and from there we can quickly become discouraged about the whole sales process.

Some of us get defensive in the face of objections. That’s understandable: The long hours, the energy, the hope you put into that pending deal; not to mention you’ve had a tough week, and you’re tired. Then to top it off, instead of having a win, you’ve got negative feedback and another “no” to add to your collection.

Relationship Un-building

How you deal with objections says a lot about you as a sales professional. If objections make you knee-jerk into defensiveness, you can forget about cultivating healthy business relationships, because defensiveness is the kind of thing that can drive customers away. And odds are you’ll never hear from them again. These days, too, customers can go out onto social media to publicly express their dissatisfaction with a sales rep’s way of conducting business. You don’t ever want that kind of thing attached to your name out there.

Could It Be You?

The objection you’re trying not to take personally might even directly speak to the fact that you have not properly unearthed or fully grasped the customer’s needs and the hierarchy of their priorities. Too, an objection could signify that you’ve neglected to comprehend what the customer values most. Or it might reveal how exactly your product or service fails to match the competition’s and doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations or needs. In short, you could be taking personally something that the customer was right to object to.

What to Keep in Mind

Despite what might be vast experience with negative responses, we’re not always used to hearing “no.” Literally, our mindset can make or break us in an objection situation. A sales professional with a positive mindset hears objections differently. Instead of letting a negative feeling take over, they might step back and watch the emotion go by. They also do a good job of keeping in mind that an objection is not a personal attack.

Turn It Around

Top sales professionals will take the helm and reframe the objection. They know that a sales objection can be an inroad for getting further on the path to understanding the customer’s needs, priorities, and values. Just having that interaction puts you in an excellent light. It shows you’re engaged; you’re listening; you’re empathetic; you’re right in there with the customer, getting at what kind of solution will suit them.

It may sound obvious, but when you’re selling, always remember that you’re engaged in a human interaction. Once you go into and occupy a negative emotion, in a sense you’re outside of that person-to-person interaction. Of course we can’t be expected to revamp our established behaviors and patterns overnight. But we can look at methods for letting the defensiveness and other emotional clouds drift on by.

If you have an emotional reaction to a customer objection, recognize the emotion, but then allow it to move on. Then take it a step further and empathize with the customer so that you can uncover the root of their objection. Subtracting your emotions from the equation frees you up to really engage the customer. Start by asking what their biggest concern is. Then actively listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Listen to their pauses. Decode their non-verbal communication. Often the answers are in the spaces between what’s said. In other words, tune into the customer to understand their hesitation and to get closer to what their need is. Then you can start to really help them.

When you use objections as keys for unlocking what’s going on with the customer, you’re providing yourself with a chance to help the buyer see past their concerns and what they might, at least temporarily, perceive as obstacles. That puts you in a better position to uncover solutions.

Taking your bruised feelings out of the interaction actually increases the probability of a successful business relationship and laying the ground for long-term loyalty. And we can all agree: There’s not much to object to in that.