My first sales manager, a grizzled old veteran with a no excuses allowed attitude used to tell me, “there are no lousy products, just lousy salesmen”.
As a rookie salesman I thought the comment surely a strange one. Of course, there are bad products I thought. I know a bad product when I see one.

I was wrong. The point is I can see bad products because someone is selling them. They are on the market. It takes a real salesman to sell an obviously deficient product. I have sold luxury goods, services, foodstuffs, mass-market lines, and internationally. Each category requires an adjustment based on the customer, their needs and the benefits the product can offer.

The biggest reason for wildly varying sales performance is the inability of salespeople to recognize and handle objections. Most under-performing sales people do not understand the difference between objections and conditions. An objection is a stated negative to a part, or all of the proposed benefits of a product. Objections can, and must be overcome. A condition is a hard barrier. Imminent death, bankruptcy, possibly a looming divorce, are a few, and there are very few, conditions that would probably stop any attempt at closing a sale.

A condition is a fact that is so overwhelming that it makes no sense to pursue a sales opportunity. Trying to sell a Rolex watch, or life insurance, to a late stage cancer patient is probably not going to produce a mutually beneficial outcome for either party. A bankrupt is not a great candidate for a $25,000 kitchen remodel. Nevertheless, there are very few absolute conditions that sales people will ever run into. They too often want to position objections as conditions, an excuse mechanism.

Not so with objections! Objections come at sales people endlessly and they really are little more than phony excuses that can, and must, be overcome. Price, style, size, portability, too many features, too few features, the purported list of reasons a buyer might offer as a reason not to buy is endless. The prepared, knowledgeable and confident sales person will have an answer for each objection and be able to re-direct the presentation back toward a successful closing.
Buyers make decisions to buy or not buy based on a variety of emotions, motivations and needs. Very often the stated objection to making a purchase, is 180 degrees opposite of the potential purchasers real situation. I have had buyer’s claim that their budget was exhausted for that particular quarter. No new purchase orders could be written by order of the boss.

A bit of probing usually reveals the real reason for the objection, often a competitor is overstocked with a slow turning inventory. This is easily handled, “Mike, my merchandise is turning nicely, you just do not carry enough inventory. Don’t penalize, my company, your customers and your company’s bottom line by penalizing all of us because Brand X is overstocked.”

Objections are often proposed as a testing mechanism. The test is for you, the sales person, to be able to handle the objection and prove the validity of the opportunity you are presenting. If you cannot, many experienced buyers will walk away from the product simply based on the perceived reality that you do not have the features and benefits that will compel them to change vendors.

Never assume that an objection is anything more than a speed bump to be handled with care and diligence, but not a threat to derail a confident, knowledgeable sales person from achieving their ultimate goal, the sale. If you believe, and have passion, that your product, service or opportunity needs and deserves to be available to the widest possible audience then you will succeed at overcoming objections.

An objection is simply an opportunity for you to prove the utility and importance of your product. Successful sales people welcome objections. They recognize handling objections as confirmation of their mastery of the product. The competent buyer will, likewise, treat the sales person’s ability to tackle the minefield of objections as proof that this opportunity must be seriously considered for purchase.

Conditions are rare and insurmountable. Objections are frequent and used by weak sales persons and buyers to justify not taking action. There is no excuse for any sales person to not handle every objection proffered. It is commercial suicide to lack the competence to turn every objection into a closing opportunity.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.