If you work in sales, you’re probably familiar with the concept of objection handling. Objection handling is a way to prepare and anticipate the concerns or objections of a potential customer, and then to come up with solutions and responses that would address those anticipated concerns.
Its an excellent exercise that salespeople go through to ensure that even if they run into roadblocks with a potential customer (very common) they have the right messaging to help the customer overcome the concerns and buy the product.
In addition to helping salespeople sell, the concept of objection handling can be very useful to all of us non-salespeople in various aspects of our life. If we can anticipate potential concerns of say, our partner or spouse, perhaps we can pick a restaurant to go to that will meet both of our food tastes. Or, if we think about how our boss might be concerned about our decision to shift our priorities to some other projects before we meet with her, we can strengthen our business case to pursue those projects and win her support.
Here are a few use cases where doing an objection handling exercise can help you:
Presenting or Persuading your colleagues – Objection handling is perfect if you have to make a presentation, sell an idea, or get buy in on a specific approach to a project. By identifying the other key players, thinking about their potential concerns to what you are proposing, and practicing how you’d respond to them you can increase your chances of getting support.
Convincing a recruiter to hire you – Anytime you are applying for a job, you are essentially marketing and selling yourself to a company, so similar to how a sales rep would want to have a customer overcome their concerns about your product, you want the recruiter to overcome their concerns about your product (yourself.) By identifying weakspots on your resume or work experience and highlighting how you would overcome those, you can be sure that you’re prepared for whatever they want to ask you in the interview.
Here’s my approach to practicing objection handling:
Find the holes – Every argument, no matter how strong it is, has some potential holes or concerns. Be objective, and identify what the holes or weak spots in your argument are, and write them down.
Come up with responses and alternatives – Take the list of weaknesses or holes, and develop responses or solutions to how you would either address those holes, or how the weaknesses are actually not as big of a deal as they are made out to be.
Practice – Take the time to say your responses out loud and practice how you would respond if someone were to drill you on those specific questions. If you do this enough, when it comes time to present, you’ll free comfortable with how to respond most of their questions or concerns.
Objection handling is a great way to prepare for potential challenges and pushback in various aspects of our life. You won’t win every time, but using this tactic can help you ensure you make a compelling case for whatever you’re supporting.