When you begin making the argument for an innovation you will find, as you do in almost any sales situation, that the prospect offers objections to your idea.

How do you handle this?

The first step is an attitude: If your prospect is raising objections to your idea it means that they are interested in your idea. The worst thing would be that they offer no objections because they are not even interested.

Get interested yourself. You have a conversation going. Treat objections as good news. Delve into them. Be genuinely curious, listening to understand, not to gather information to refute them. Point out that the objections are good questions.

Here are some questions you can ask to uncover what the prospect is thinking:

  • How do they do it today?
  • What are the problems?
  • How do they imagine the problem could be solved?
  • What has been tried before?
  • How do they feel about…?
  • Who is involved in the decision process?
  • Who are the key competitors and how are they seen?
  • Ask yourself what do I need to know to raise my certainty that we can make this sale? Don’t be self-serving in your questions. Be really curious.

Then, after really hearing deeply, show the reasons why those objections are not a reason for not buying your product or your idea. “Yes,” you might say, “We ran into those objections ourselves. And here is how our offering handles them. Or here is what other users do about that.”

If you can, look behind the objections.

What is the prospect actually afraid of that they are not saying?

It will be something very basic to human nature that a teenager could understand. It could be being disgraced if it does not work. It could be annoying some powerful person. In your answers to the objections, without accusing the prospect of having that concern, address the underlying concern as well as the question on the surface. It could be a story about another unnamed customer. This requires some intuition and tact, but particularly if you get a long string of objections it may be the way to proceed.

Often the problem is that the way the customer perceives the problem you are addressing is different than the way you do. You can figure out how what you are selling fits with their concept of the problem, or if it does not, you will have to get them to see the problem the way you do.

Next Week

Next Monday’s post: “The Complex Sale

Posts in this Series:

How to Sell Your Ideas

Express Gratitude

Avoid Triggering the Organizational Immune System

It’s Only a Test

Framing Ideas so they Get Support

Restarting the Clock

Don’t Run it up the Flagpole to See Who Salutes

The Risk of Not Doing It


Gifford Pinchot III is an American entrepreneur, author, inventor, and President of Pinchot & Company. Gifford is credited with inventing the concept of and word “intrapreneur” in a paper that he and his wife, Elizabeth Pinchot, wrote in 1978 titled Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship. His first book, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (1985) presented an expansion of the intrapreneurship concept.