How to improve at pre-empting objections

clearpathPay-off: Improved outcomes when talking to people
Investment: 4 minutes

You may already be familiar with how to pre-empt objections in conversation but do you use this opportunity-creating conversational approach fluently, consistently and successfully?

Regardless of your experience, this post should help you open more valuable opportunities in your work and life more consistently, and you’ll probably find it’s worth the four minute read.

See that?

Not sure if you saw what I just did – I pre-empted the ‘objection’ you may have had if you thought “I already know how to pre-empt objections.”

Originally my post title was, “How to pre-empt objections” but I realised this invites the immediate reaction, “I already know how to pre-empt objections”. So I tweaked the title to suggest that already knowing is not enough – that we can indeed improve. Maybe that got you to reconsider.

Then, to fully pre-empt the “I already know how to do this” objection, I addressed it head to head with the opening line, “You may already be familiar with..” (that gets those people nodding at least) and then suggested why it’s still worth reading. (Just because we pride ourselves on knowing something, does that mean we do it consistently and well? What if we put more of our attention towards doing it better, might we increase our chances?)

It won’t work for everyone, but like all BD/sales approaches, it’s probabilistic; It just might work for enough people. You’re here giving this some attention for one.

One of the most useful conversational skills

Pre-empting objections effectively, to my mind, has to be one of the most useful conversational skills to acquire, not just for sales but for life in general. People will always give initial pushback (think clients, colleagues, partners, friends, your kids), unless you disarm them to do so!


If you remove the thing to push back on by doing the pushing back for them, it doesn’t leave them with a whole lot left to work with. Genius.

So what’s the process?

1.For whichever conversation you’re about to have, brainstorm the most likely objections you’ll face. Jot down what the other person might think in protest. Why wouldn’t they want to keep talking or go ahead with what you’re suggesting?

In this post, I wrote down “But I already know how to pre-empt objections”.

2.Pick the most likely one or two.

3.Brainstorm as many reasons as you can why it’s probably in their interest to keep talking with you, despite these objections. Why get as many as you can? So that you can pick the best parts of each to build a better way to pre-empt the objection.

I wrote down:

  • they can surely improve how they pre-empt objections
  • it’s a useful refresher to hone their technique
  • it could lead to more sales or opportunities
  • reading this will probably increase their chances that they will do this more often, which is potentially valuable

4.Design a soundbite. Open the conversation by stating their objection, then leading them to why it shouldn’t get in their way of a potentially valuable outcome.

5.Practice it to roll off the tongue conversationally, and schedule to use it on your next relevant conversation.

Example 1

If you’re initiating a conversation they may say (or think), “I’m too busy to talk right now.”

Why it might still be worth talking:

  • like investing money, now’s the time to get started
  • it just takes 5 mins to determine if it’s worth talking further (your initial ‘should we be talking’ conversation should only take 5 mins max. If it doesn’t, contact me for help.)
  • could help ease some of your major pressures over the next 3 months

Soundbite: “Now, I’m sure you’re flat out but we need just 5 minutes to see if it’s worth talking further to see if we can efficiently reduce some of these pressures on you asap – can we grab 5 minutes by the end of this week?”

Example 2

In a situation where you catch a prospective customer browsing, they may say (or think) “I’m just looking.”

Why it still might be worth you talking to me:

  • you’re here with a picture in your mind about a possibility. If you share your reason, pain or vision with me, I may be able to help you achieve it
  • I may save you time if we don’t have what you’re looking for
  • I may be able to point you to another place that has exactly what you want
  • I’ll be careful not to smother you, I’ll just help and then give you some space

Soundbite: “It looks like you’re just browsing, but no doubt you came here today for a good reason and I may be able to point you in the right direction – so what brought you here today?”

Feels odd to say it?

If it feels odd to say, either pick different wording, or rehearse it until it feels ok. Over time it’ll feel normal.

And note too that the example above is unlikely to get the response, “I’m just looking” because a) you shot that down and b) it doesn’t answer your polite question of ‘what brought you here today’.

They’re likely to share something with you, and that information can help you to help them and engages them in potential conversation.

If they say that they’re just looking, you could respond with, “great, well let me know if I can point you towards anything” which may suggest to them that your involvement would be light and may just engage them.

All you have to do now is deliver.

If you liked this post you might also like How to eliminate sales objections which contains some different ideas on working with objections.

Scroll to Top