The 5 Objection Types Your Sales Team Must Master

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“Time and money are not your biggest objections…”

If you’ve been around professional selling for any period of time, odds are you’ve been taught about the importance of overcoming objections.

Have a response ready when they say they can’t afford it.  Make sure that if their spouse is involved in the buying decision, you get them on the phone.  The list goes on and on.

And while it’s easy for your prospects to trod out the “I don’t have enough time…” or “We just can’t afford it…” objections, what’s really holding them back may go much deeper.

Sadly, very few sales trainers understand these deeper objections.  As a result, their sales teams put extraordinary effort into overcoming time and money objections.

But time and money are surface level.  Because in reality, there are three much deeper issues that can kill a sale dead in it’s tracks.

By understanding all five, however, your sales team will be much prepared to handle your prospect’s true objections.

The Five Categories of Objections

At the end of the day, there are only five overarching ‘reasons’ someone could want what you’re offering, but hesitate to move forward.  Those five categories are:

  1. Time
  2. Identity
  3. Money
  4. Energy
  5. Reputation

Let’s break these down one by one.


Time objections are pretty easy to understand.  Objections in this category almost always boil down to:

  • How much time is this going to take?
  • If we buy from you, is the amount of time we’ll save worth your fee?
  • Am I / are we going to have to spend more time doing this than I’m / we’re already spending?
  • How long is it going to take to implement this if we buy from you?

Obviously there are other examples.  But in almost every situation, what matters is whether your fee is worth the time they’ll gain back by not having to do ______ on their own.


This is where things start to get tricky.

In short, identity is what your prospects believe about themselves as it relates to what you’re selling.  For example, a vegan will never buy a slab of pork loin no matter how good the deal is.   Why?

Because it doesn’t align with their identity as a vegan.

Sadly, most professional service providers never think about this.  In particular, they never consider their prospects beliefs about themselves and how it relates to the sale they’re trying to make.

As an example, let’s say you run a travel agency.  And let’s say your prospect is a super multi-millionaire who spends lavishly and wants to take his family on a luxurious African safari.

Well, if you try to sell to that person by talking about the amazing deals and discounts you’re able to get him or her, you’ll probably turn them off. Why?

Because they don’t identify as the type of person who makes buying decisions based on discounts and purchases.  In fact, for some rich people, even implying they could care about discounts is enough to kill a deal on the spot.

At the same time, some wealthy people are extremely frugal.  Because of that, trying to sell them the same luxurious African safari might backfire.  Why?

Because even though they have the money, they don’t identify as lavish spenders.

As you can see, this can become extremely tricky.  In particular, making assumptions about your prospect’s identity can be highly dangerous to the sale.

Given this, it’s critical your sales team has a set of questions ready to rapidly laser in on your prospect’s identity as early in the relationship as possible.


Money is both the most common, and most overemphasized, objection out there.  A lazy prospect knows how fast a salesperson will crumble when they think they’re dealing with someone who doesn’t have a budget.

Further, the highly emotional stories people tell themselves about money make it that much harder for an untrained salesperson to overcome financial objections.

In most cases, however, it’s not about the money.  Yes, some prospects slip through who truly can’t afford your services.

In reality, however, most of them have the funds.  Especially if you’re using some kind of application or qualification process prior to letting your sales staff get on the phone with anyone.

Meaning, while your prospects may trod out the “We just can’t afford it…” objection, in most cases their real objection falls into one of these other four categories.

If the objection really is about money, then it almost always fall into one of two categories:

  • I don’t see how hiring you is going to help me make more than the fee I’d be paying you
  • I don’t see how hiring you is going to help me save more than the fee I’d be paying you

Because if they truly understand how hiring you will help them make or save more than your fee, there’s no reason for them not to move forward.

Which is why money issues are almost never the real objection.  Assuming your sales staff can communicate how working with you will make or save your prospects more than your fee, there are only two issues that would stop a sane person from moving forward:

Either they don’t trust you’ll be able to live up to the money-related promises you’re making…or their real objection is something else.


It’s been scientifically proven us humans are prone to the Path of Least Resistance.  And in terms of evolution, conserving as much energy as possible was critical to our survival.

In modern society, however, the path of least resistance is almost always the road to failure.  But that doesn’t mean your prospects want to invest a ton of energy into taking advantage of your service.

Because of that, almost all Effort related objections boil down to the following:

  • How much work am I going to have to do if I hire you?
  • How much energy / effort can you save me?
  • If I hire you, am I going to have to invest more effort into this than I’m already investing?

What’s tricky here is understanding the difference between Effort and Time.

In the above questions, you could very easily substitute the word time for work/energy/effort and you’d get just as equally valid objections.  Effort and time, however, are not the same thing.

For example, consider a travel planning service.  If one company requires that you gather a scanned copy of everyone in your child’s wedding, that could take a serious amount of effort (and yes, time).

Meaning, if another travel planner offers to contact all those family members for you, the amount of work and energy they’d help you save could be enough to tip the scales in their favor.


While Identity is what people believe about themselves, reputation is what other people say about us.  Because of that, almost all reputation objections come down to status.

Here are the types of objections you might see from someone worried about their reputation:

  • What if so and so finds out I hired you?
  • What if I hire you and things go south?  My boss / spouse / kids will kill me!
  • ________ will be SO impressed if they find out we’re working together, I’ve just GOT to hire you!

As you can see here, reputation cuts both ways.  If your company prices its services on the lower-end of the scale, some prospects may worry about being “found out” for choosing a “cheap” provider.

On the other hand, if your firm has some kind of guru / celebrity /high-status position in your market, odds are you’d be surprised how many people hire you just so they can attach their name to your brand.

And of course, no one wants to look like an idiot.  Meaning, your prospects need to know what’s going to happen if things don’t go to plan.

Putting It Into Practice

As I learned from the man who taught me this, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single objection that doesn’t fit into one of these five categories.

“Well, what if someone just doesn’t trust you?”

Yes, trust is critical to making sales. But at the end of the day, lack of trust is a lack of belief in your ability to deliver on one of these five categories.

Because if they truly believe, in the depths of their soul, that working with you will:

  • Help them save Time
  • Reinforce the Identity they have for themselves
  • Help them make or save more Money (compared to them doing it on their own or with a competitor)
  • Reduce how much Effort they’ll have to invest to achieve their desired outcome
  • And positively influence their Reputation (aka status)

There’s zero reason for them to say “No” to doing business with you.

And the best part?

By addressing these five areas in your marketing, you can dramatically reduce how many objections your sales staff has to “overcome” when they finally get on the phone with someone.