Anticipating Objections – and Answering Them Correctly

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Gotta love the free sales training provided by our Presidential candidates. Imagine paying supposedly expert consultants big six-figure salaries and still screwing up big-time!

There are a couple of super-powerful lessons to learn that will boost your closing percentage for years to come, if you just analyze what these contenders are doing right – and wrong.

Plaintiff’s exhibit #1: Mr. Romney.  C’mon now – did he and his buds not think that the competition would beat him up over his days as a “vulture capitalist?”

He, and his co-candidates, should have long-ago predicted what objections they were going to run into, just like you need to in any serious selling situation. And come up with powerful answers with examples.

Exhibit #2: Did Mr. Cain not think his women-friends would come forward and mess up his campaign?  Really?

Exhibit #3: And what is Newt’s excuse for not being ready to defend his most recent egregious screw-up: accepting big money from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac?

Perhaps you can’t see how any of this applies to you.  Try these:

  • A potential client finds out you are being sued by a client
  • A client finds out you are moving your office out of town
  • One of your major players is leaving and starting her own firm
  • A leading partner is retiring who is a celebrity in his/her niche, and you have nobody to step up
  • One of your major clients just went over to your biggest competitor
  • A potential client thinks your firm might be too small to help them
  • A potential client thinks your firm might be too big to help them
  • A prospect likely would prefer a firm that had minorities in key positions, and you have none
  • A prospect with an international business wants to deal with an international firm
  • A fabulous prospective employee wants to work for a Big 4 firm, but you know your firm would best suit her

All of the above are potential objections you could run into in a selling, networking or employee interview situation.  How would you handle them?

Anticipating objections is a sophisticated skill that only great salespeople possess.  I would have expected much more from zillion-dollar campaigns for president than catching a candidate (who is a salesperson) so off-guard that it takes days or weeks or never to resolve this major stumbling block standing in their way to their proclaimed goal of winning the White House.

Rather…each of these candidates should have been well-prepared ahead of time for what they should have known would rear its ugly head – and preemptively taken the objection away before their competitors (or the media) brought it up.

That’s what you need to do in a situation that could bite you where it will hurt: bring up the objection, and answer it conclusively, before it is brought to you.

Example: Mr. Romney had plenty of face-time with reporters, debates, in-person stumping, to educate the voters (buyers) as to what he did as a venture capitalist.  He had six years to practice!  How – specifically – did some of those strategic investments fail, and how did the majority succeed wildly, by giving specific examples. How many jobs were added or saved?  It would have been an educational moment to the voting public about what capitalism is all about (which apparently is no longer being taught in our schools, being replaced by the fairness of socialism).

Instead, he and his moron campaign experts, were caught broadside up the head, and still as of this date been unable to put out this fire, which may simply burn through his lead in the polls and keep him from being president.

A good friend of mine, and someone who has served our profession in so many ways, is James “Butch” Williams of Birmingham, Alabama.  You will not meet a better representative of what a CPA should be.  Years ago, Butch’s firm was retiring one of the name partners.  The decision was made to change the name of the firm, removing him from the title.  This was a firm that had been around forever with a lot of recognition in the marketplace being replaced with a moniker nobody had ever heard of.  Sort of like changing Datsun to Nissan back in the early eighties, a mistake Nissan has never recovered from (they were the number one import car at the time and immediately fell to number three, where they remain today).

Butch intuitively knew there could be confusion and pushback with the name change.  Instead of dodging it and pretending it would go away (burying one’s head in the sand is what CPAs are great at), the  firm under his leadership decided to be highly proactive and start marketing the new firm name to their clients and referral sources by personally visiting each and every one of them (over a certain % of revenues) and explaining what had happened and why. 

To this day, Butch will tell you it was probably the best marketing program his firm ever conducted, leading not to a fall in revenues, but an increase.That’s anticipating the objection and having an answer ready.  Go back to my examples above, and see what you can come up with to answer those objections, as an exercise in being prepared, high-level selling.

Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs.  The “I-Hate-Selling” CDs and Study Guide are available at

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