The Fab Four

Did you know that people can really only offer 1 of 4 objections to a sale?  All objections can really be boiled down into 1 of 4 categories.

1) Time

2) Money

3) Product

4) You

I used to have to make a minimum of 1400 calls per month (really, or we lost our jobs) to IT directors proselytizing for IBM.  I heard every objection in the book, but knowing that they boil down to 1 of 4 things, means you really only have to know 4 distinct responses, (most times 3, as a “You” objection is typically near impossible to overcome).

They would throw out words like budget (Price), quarterly (Time), Dell (Product), service (Product), compatibility (Product), support (Product), etc.

However, just as I did above, my brain was trained to hear the type as well as the reason.  This allowed us to isolate and qualify the objection.

Why is that important?

I assume most reading this sell in some way.  You either own and promote a business, or you sell for one.  How many times have you spoken to a prospect where they said “I can’t do anything until April, only to call in April and find they bought in March?”

I would assert that in most cases this can be avoided with qualifying the objection.

How does it work?

Well, to start you need to use your “Listen Up” skills (read that post if you haven’t already).  Listen to the objection and Clarify that you heard what you thought you did.

Me: “John, it sounds like you just stated that your annual budget has been expended and you won’t be replacing any computer hardware until Q1 next year, is that correct?”

John: “Yes.”

Me: “I understand completely.  I deal with many companies that have to manage their needs to their buying cycles.  In fact, I know we ourselves here at IBM have to be sensitive to those considerations as well. I also know that we have promotions from time to time that may save you a substantial amount on your technology upgrades.  If one of arose, but happened to do so before January, should I call you, or keep that to myself?”

John will either say “Call Me” or, as I have heard before, “honestly they could be $1 and I couldn’t spend anything before January”.

If he says “call me”, this is your open door.  He just told you the real objections is “Price”.  He really said “If you can get me the right deal, time doesn’t matter.” This is what your competitor did when you lost the sale when you called back in April.

If he says he can’t buy anything regardless of price, you most likely have a real “Time” objection, meaning prompt follow up in late December should go a long way to get something in the works for January.

This method works for Product, Time, and Price objections.  I have never had a “You” objection.  Although I have helped some navigate them.  The best thing is to relate that you can see that there is a personality conflict and you believe your firms may be a good fit even if the two of you aren’t and ask if someone else can contact him regarding this opportunity.  It gives you one last chance to try and save a sale.

The “You” objection is one of the most difficult to overcome, so it is best avoided.  How do you avoid it?  Well one of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a manger happened to come while I was in college working at, of all places. . .The Olive Garden.

I’ll share that in the next post.


2 thoughts on “The Fab Four

  1. mark nagle says:

    Typically, I provide bids via Email, But whether presented in person, or email, after presenting, should I say “when do you want to start”? (assume there wont be objections) or “what do you think”? ( assume there might be and try to hear them out)

  2. avcuracy says:


    Always try to get the opportunity to present your bid in person. Even if you send it first via email, (as many times you may have to) it is a good idea to sit and walk people through your mental process in recommending what you did.

    Once you present the price, it is time to be quiet. I mean literally don’t say a word. Don’t justify the pricing, don’t anticipate objections, just sit and look at the proposal. Wait for the customer’s reaction, and give them time to formulate. The first time or two you will feel really uncomfortable waiting, but don’t break the silence. I have litereally waited minutes before the customer has spoken but that’s OK.

    They most likely won’t wait that long but it will feel like forever. Then they will say, that’s more than I thought, or can you go over what we’re getting again, or I think that will work.

    The key is to not backpedal as it makes you look like you feel guilty about the price, or that there is some wiggle room to be had. The truth is, you know you have offered a product that fits their needs, and that you are offering it at a fair price, so be confident.

    If they have objections, let them spell them out, definitely don’t be proactive, as you may raise doubts that never existed.

    Make Sense?

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