Differentiate a Complaint from an Objection (and Close the Sale)


People complain about everything, all the time. They complain about the weather, they complain about being tired, hungry, fat, broke, bored, hot, cold… they complain about their kids, their family, their friends, their cars… they complain that they work too hard, aren’t paid enough, aren’t respected enough, aren’t appreciated enough…

People complain everywhere, so doesn’t it make sense that people can and will complain to you while you’re trying to sell them something?

Just because someone complains about something, doesn’t mean it’s a dealbreaker.


Meanwhile, at the Apple Store

I remember when I went into the Apple Store™ several months ago to buy my latest iPhone, I was about to pay for my new iPhone when I found myself thinking, “man that’s expensive”… as I pulled out my credit card and handed it to the Apple Store employee.

If I would have voiced my “complaint” to the eager employee, he might have started down the path of listing all the features and benefits… how this one is way more powerful than the previous one, how it’s waterproof, the speakers are so much better, the resolution is amazing, the camera can take beautiful photos… and if he would have done that, it wouldn’t have HURT the sale at all, but more than anything he would have been wasting his breath! I was already sold, and was ready to buy, and he identified my COMPLAINT as an OBJECTION.

For something to be a legitimate objection, in the buyers mind it has to be a reason NOT to buy. A good example of a real objection could be that the prospect’s company legitimately needs at least two directors to approve any capital expense over $10,000. In this case, we deal with the objection and pivot our process.

Image used with absolutely no permission from Apple™

Why even differentiate the two?

Why not just handle it as an objection, and move on? Who cares if you waste a little breath.

When you confront a complaint as an objection, you legitimize the complaint AS an objection in the prospect’s mind, escalating it to the next level. Now, instead of just a complaint that you could have breezed over and closed the sale without solving, you now have to solve it. You’re working way too hard.

You need to make sure that you stay on the offensive.. because as soon as you start playing defense, you lose control.


Being able to do this effectively is going to allow you to:

  1. Save time and energy – by not confronting complaints and having to do all the things associated with handling it as an objection, you’re going to save a ton of time and breath during your appointments.
  2. Improve credibility – a client knows when their stating a complaint or if something is a legitimate objection. Your ability to distinguish the two apart will earn respect from the prospect
  3. Close More Sales – by confronting it, you legitimize it in the prospects mind as a valid objection. If possible, let’s keep that objection at bay so we don’t have to open the can of worms by confronting it.

When you handle a complaint as an objection, you then validate it and turn it into more than it was… just a complaint! Just because somebody says something is too expensive doesn’t mean they aren’t going to buy it – when was the last time you thought something was too expensive, and bought it anyway? Was it a complaint, or an objection? Think of the last Apple product you bought. If it’s just a complaint, it isn’t a deal breaker.

This is exactly what happens when you make yourself work harder than you need to, probably.

The 2 Step Formula For Determining if it’s a Complaint, or an Objection:

  1. Agree with them…
  2. Move on.

“Man, this is really expensive.”

“Yes, I agree with you, it is expensive. Which credit card would you like to use?”
It’s important to NOT to immediately jump into objection handling techniques. The last thing we want to do is to get on the defensive and start backpedaling, going back into the features and benefits, painting the picture of your value proposition, offering discounts…

Just agree, and move on.


“Mike I need to talk to my wife about this.”

“Mr Jones, 100% I agree. You should talk to your wife about this. How would you like to make the first instalment?”


This is going to allow you to flush out the real objection. The only reason someone won’t buy is because there’s something standing in the way. If the value truly outweighs the price, it’s a no-brainer. But as salespeople, we need to figure out what the TRUE objections are, and deal with THOSE. But, if we try to deal with every single complaint that the prospects throw at us, we might end up bringing up new objections that they might not have had before.

Note: This type of objection handling can only be done at the very END of the sales presentation, when you are just about to close. It’s about testing the waters to see if you actually need to deal with the objection, or if you can save everyone some time and just close the sale.


Founder, Salesbro.co


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