Old school sales trainers used to insist that a sale begins when the customer says no. They optimistically interpret this as customer interest.  Though the approach may work a fifth of the time, the sales productivity is crippled by its inefficiency. In this new age of selling, updated practitioners know much better. Selling Mechanics, a.k.a. “Argument-less Selling”, has replaced the obsolete “present, handle objections and close process”. The shift yields efficiently no less than the predominance of affirmatives, while cutting the selling cycle and time needed by almost seventy percent.  In addition, it places no peril on relationship as compared to the ‘argument-oriented’ hard-selling methods predisposed to induce unnecessary friction. Nevertheless, despite care, hardly controllable elements or unanticipated intervening factors may still introduce obstacles, preventing a customer’s positive decision. For this, obstacle handling becomes the safety net.
What Triggers Obstacles?
All seller-centric methods have three times the propensity to give rise to selling obstacles, as compared to new age Argument-less Selling. This is because it is the major defect of the old approach. For instance, in the old method, a seller presents his products/services to the customer who would defensively throw visible or invisible roadblocks, either due to resistance to change, skepticism, or plain lack of interest. Closing is predictably preceded with obstacles. With the new age Argument-less Selling, which uses the concept of inception rather than intrusion, obstacles are rarely experienced. To illustrate, the new age seller uses the customer’s logic, keywords and psychological buying algorithm. In effect, how can the customer argue with the seller without seemingly arguing with himself? (Unless, of course, the customer habitually argues with himself, an occurrence not witnessed in normal human beings). Secondly, when a sale involves multiple steps owing to the number of people involved on the client side, obstacles may arise from the diverse criteria being used by the motley congregation. Lastly, a poorly executed selling process can also be a magnet for selling obstacles. There are still other triggers like personality, diametrically-opposed perspectives plus other minor factors that can unduly seed obstacle sprouts.
Objections or Obstacles: What is the Difference Between the Two?
Objections represent just one family of obstacles. Beyond the nomenclatural difference, the more significant reason for such commercial taxonomy is to abide by the principle aptly captured in the adage, “use the right tool for the right job.” Logic dictates that before the right tool can be prescribed, the task has to be clearly defined. In selling, this implies that the proper diagnosis of the obstacle has to be done prior to applying the solution to be drawn from among a multitude of tools inside the selling obstacle first aid kit. New age selling is largely anchored on knowing when to use which tool. For example, when the client insists on asking for something substantial that the seller is incapable of or unwilling to provide, this is diagnosed to be a major drawback, one of three siblings in the family of objections. Old school handling will likely assault this occurrence with “yes...but”. Disturbingly, empirical evidence points to the trending unreliability of this former selling wonder drug, as it no longer appeals to the newer generation of customers. In fact the failure rate is close to 50%, prompting the author to relegate this to suspended animation. Instead, as a primary response, new age selling has replaced this with listening and acknowledging without the ambivalent affirmation. After emptying the pot of emotions, this is followed through by a non-argumentative perspective guiding method, and finally, dealt with a handling option psychologically-befitting the personality of the customer.
Precise Science Reinforces Arbitrary Art
Ultimately, situation dictates the methods to be used. The shotgun approach of yester years have been replaced with precision instruments that manage obstacles according to situation and personality. Diagnosis precedes prescription of action. With a systematic approach guided by new tools salespeople are trained to use, little is left to chance, thereby increasing closing ratios using replicable and practicable science.

RowenUntivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing, sales, strategy and innovation training company.  He questioned the shotgun approach of lumping all obstacles into the objection bin back in the 80’s, has developeda systematic process of obstacle diagnostics and has contributed to new personality-biased  methods of handling each type of obstacle using a one-page matrix guide which he  teaches in the seminar entitled “Systematic Handling of Selling Obstacles”. For a quarter of a century, he has injected science into almost all disciplines of selling, account development, account management, negotiation among other contributions to the wealth of practicable business knowledge and tools. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.