What is your response to this objection?


There is a particular objection that comes in many forms. And the fact is, many sales folks struggle — and some are at a total loss — when faced with it. Some reps will immediately fold their tents and never return! After all, why waste time when your prospect utters these familiar words? You are much better off finding another prospect.

The objection I am referring to is presented in various ways, but the bottom line is the same. Below are a few examples:

  • Senior management only purchases from company X
  • It is our policy to only do business with a certain company
  • The board would never approve of this “out of the box” proposal
  • We are a very conservative company and never take risks with small companies like yours

You get the point. Your prospect is basically telling you that your company, product, idea, proposal, etc., would never be approved, so you are better off not wasting your time.

Technically it is not an objection, because he is not telling you he has an issue with your price, quality, functionality, years in business, company size, lack of quality accounts, etc. He is not objecting to anything you are saying or presenting. He is simply telling you his company will not do business with you.

In my experience, there are two reasons for this:

  1. The prospect really believes that regardless of the quality and pricing of your product, you have no chance of doing business because of one of the four reasons outlined above. So he doesn’t want to waste his time or your time advancing a proposal that will go nowhere.
  2. He is simply using one of these four responses as an excuse to terminate the sales call.

So how should you respond when faced with this predicament? The answer is it is virtually impossible to respond if you are single-threaded through the individual you are calling on and have not developed relationships throughout the account. To avoid this uncomfortable situation, you would be wise to execute on two fundamental sales principles. Of course, these principles only hold true if you are serious about doing business with the prospect, and therefore are interested in establishing a long-term business relationship.

  1. Learn your prospect’s organizational chart
  2. Develop relationships at all levels

Without an accurate organizational chart, it is impossible to execute an effective sales campaign. So your first task is to secure an up-to-date org chart. You can then begin your sales campaign at the highest level in the decision-making chain.  Additionally, it would be wise to establish and build relationships at all levels involved in the decision-making process. It is never a good idea to be single-threaded to one individual at your account.

Then, when the individual responsible for recommending the product you represent tells you that senior management would never purchase your product, you will be armed with the names of all the folks above him. You will be able to respond with, “Are you referring to Joe Smith or Jim Jones as senior management?” Since we all know there is no person with the title of “senior management,” your prospect will have to give you the actual name he believes will not purchase your product. And if you have previously established a relationship with Joe Smith and Jim Jones, you will be in a stronger position to accelerate the sales process.

I had this experience back in the 1980s calling on Noxell Corporation. You can read the story here.

There are no corner offices with the title “Senior Management.” But unless you know the management hierarchy, and have at least developed basic relationships with the key individuals responsible for acquiring your product, you will be at a loss for words when you are faced with this objection.

So, if your prospect offers significant potential, it behooves you to take the necessary time to understand the management landscape and call at all levels. If you don’t, you will be ill-prepared to deal with this objection. It’s up to you!


Work your land

Proverbs 28:19-20

Work your garden-you’ll end up with plenty of food;
play and party-you’ll end up with an empty plate.