Question From Paolo Dionisio:

Love your books! Just bought and read your book on Objections.  In the red herring section you talk about defaulting to ignore. How would you go about responding to the red herring objection “the last time we used your company we had a terrible experience”?


When your prospect says something like this, it feels like you need to either apologize or defend yourself and your company.

Before you make that mistake though, consider this: If they had such a poor experience why are they meeting with you?

The fact that they are meeting with you is exactly why this is a red herring that you need to ignore.

When you are in initial meetings with prospects and they hit you with “the last time we used your company we had a terrible experience” do this:

  1. Pause and acknowledge the statement by writing it down in your notebook.
  2. Then ask: “Is there anything else you’d like to put on our agenda?” (the most likely answer will be no)
  3. Next, take control of the conversation with this statement: “If it’s ok with you I’d like to ask a few questions to better understand your unique situation. Then we can discuss how we’ve changed since the last time you used us. From there we can decide together if it makes sense to keep talking.”  This acknowledges their statement again, without taking it head on, and delivers a nuanced take-away (I’m not going to chase you) that pulls them toward you.
  4. Then ask a broad open-ended question that gets them talking. This is the key to gaining control. The more they talk the less likely the issue will come up again. What you are likely to find, once they start talking, is that they are having problems with their current vendor and the grass was not greener after leaving your company.
  5. Focus on the future and how you can solve their current problems. Don’t bring up their bad experience with your company again. If they do bring it back to the surface, address it by focusing on all of the positive changes that your company has made since they last did business with you.

Learn more about handling tough sales objections in Jeb Blount’s best-seller Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering The Art and Science of Getting Past No

About the author

Jeb Blount

Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…

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