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presentation training Handling the audience p20

Few opportunities to persuade are concluded without one or more objections being raised at some stage of the presentation and discussion. There are two kinds of objections.

• Information Seeking – the “customer” requires more facts about your offer, or needs reassurance or amplification or proof of a claim you have made.

• Major – the “customer” has an obstacle or barrier in his or her mind which must be removed to have any hope of gaining agreement.

The best way of all is to pre-empt objections. Either by being comprehensive and credible in your presentation so that there are no doubts in the “customer’s” mind, or by actually facing the fact that there are certain POTENTIAL OBJECTIONS and bringing them up yourself – providing the answers at the same time (i.e. build the answers into your presentation). But, only do this if you are reasonably sure that the “customer” will think of them – otherwise you are drawing attention to something which might never have presented a problem anyway.


Sometimes the natural reaction is the wrong one:

• Don’t Pounce: an instant response (sometimes even before the “customer” has finished speaking!) is discourteous and creates an emotional barrier – it suggests you have not considered what has been said and that you are not concerned for the “customer’s” point of view.

• Don’t respond glibly: too polished, practiced and rapid a reply will be suspect and unconvincing – it suggests you have heard it all before and are just repeating a page in a “sales manual”.

• Don’t argue: never say “…I don’t agree with you…” “…that’s not really true is it…?”, “…no that’s not right, and here’s why…”, or anything similar; don’t even suggest that you disagree by shaking your head, raising an eyebrow etc.

• Don’t try to score points: drowning someone in technical detail, or proving that they do not understand or have made a mistake, will simply make them feel foolish and/or angry.

Overcoming Objections


The most important thing of all is to LISTEN, and to SHOW THAT YOU ARE LISTENTING:

The Steps

• Acknowledge the Objection or show that you appreciate the customer’s viewpoint. Say something like…

“I quite see your point of view…” “Yes I understand why you think that…”

• Clarify the Objection. Make sure you have understood it by repeating or paraphrasing e.g.

“So what you are concerned about is the cost…”

• Then ASK for more information e.g.

“May I ask how it compared with…?” or “How much were you expecting it to cost…?”, “Why…?” etc.

• You are returning to the Persuasive Structure – Identify the Need or Problem.

• Answer only when you are really sure you understand what the true objection is:

Either: answer by explaining how the benefits of your proposal overcome the point raised.

Or: by agreeing the point is true but that you have other benefits which may offset this point


A financial objection is a financial benefit in reverse – a ‘client’ who objects sees your offer as working against their profitability.

There are two possibilities; either they are right or you have not communicated the full financial benefits of your offer.

To overcome the financial objections you could use some of the following techniques:-

• Pre-empt the objection by building an answer.

• Listen to the objections, don’t pounce – then question the objection. Find out what they really mean and if they know what they mean. Also assess the extent of the objection (e.g. “I appreciate that it’s not in your budget; may I ask what your budget limits are; how much is left in your budget; who authorizes your budget; is there any way I could help you get it into next year’s budget, etc – the question(s) interwoven into the natural conversation).

Once you understand the objection then ask yourself “Is the objection valid? Do the figures check-out or have they got their maths wrong?”

Regardless of whether or not the objection is valid in financial terms, the next thing to do is acknowledge their viewpoints (“apparent agreement”), this may or may not involve repeating objections back.

If the financial objection can be outweighed by financial benefits then overcome it with financial benefit using cost justification. If the financial objection is greater than the financial benefits then you must overcome it with non-financial benefits by appealing to other buyer motivators.


There are two common types of objection which require special consideration:

Hidden objections: where the objection voiced (e.g. “I haven’t got the budget”) is more acceptable than the true objection (e.g. “I haven’t got the authority”). If this seems to be the case then answer the objection raised and follow up with “…and what are the other points that bother you?” or some such question.

Price objections: firstly you must politely establish whether the price is unacceptable in comparison with a competitor, or in comparison with simply not buying the product/service at all. Competitor is best handled by:

• Focusing on the TOTAL COST of the purchase to the customer (i.e. purchase price – cost of time + installation + overheads etc). Asking this puts PRICE into smaller perspective.

• Identifying the cost DIFFERENCE between you and your competitors (this gives you a smaller amount to justify).

• Explaining how your TOTAL OFFER differs from your competitors (this gives you a much smaller amount to justify).

• Explaining how your TOTAL OFFER differs from your competitors, and showing that the VALUE DIFFERENCE to your customer is greater than the COST DIFFERENCE.

Comparison with not purchasing is best handled by:

• Reducing the price to the LOWEST DENOMINATOR that is appropriate to your customer (e.g. amount per day, amount per person, extra cost per unit, the equivalent of only one extra tank of petrol per week); this makes it psychologically more acceptable.

• Repeating your MAJOR BENEFITS in a way that shows the customer that the VALUE of your offer is greater than its PRICE.


These can be tricky, but can be handled professionally. At all costs, do not get annoyed or become antagonistic towards the person or interruption.

Remember STOP

S - Stop

T - Take Control

O - Organise the interruption

P - Proceed


Tell him/her that you will be handling questions at the end.

If someone is being negative or obstructive, pass the point to someone else in the group to comment. If your eye contact has been good, you will already know who your friends are in the room. If they handle their interrupting colleague this will avoid any one-to-one battles developing between speaker and his/her “adversary”.

If people are having one-to-one conversation stop and use silence. They will soon realize and understand your authority.

If interruptions beyond your control occur: telephones, noises, equipment, breakdowns; stop. Perhaps organize a short break. Whatever you do try not to talk through interruptions, they can be most off putting and destroy confidence.


Some audiences are very quiet and give little non verbal feedback to the presenter. We call these groups low reactors .

Should you be faced with such a situation, it may be a good idea to get them involved in group work.

The world is made up of many different types of people, some enjoy analyzing and discussing more than formal presentations.

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