Cold calling strategies that can help you get past ‘knee-jerk’ objections
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Cold calling strategies that can help you get past ‘knee-jerk’ objections

There’s no doubt that crazy-busy decision makers have a lot on their plates.

So when their phone rings with an unsolicited inquiry, it’s no surprise that their first impulse will be to get back to that stack of stuff they have to get done.

That’s why the objections you hear in a prospecting call often are nothing more than a knee-jerk response – a quick way to get you off the phone.

Which means you’ll get nowhere by trying to address the stated objection head on. Instead, you need to deflect it long enough to engage the prospect in a meaningful exchange.

Here are three common knee-jerk objections, with strategies you can use to take the call further.

1. ‘Too busy/no time to talk’
It might be tempting to say, “Okay, when can I call you back?” But that just sets you up for another rejection next time you call. What the buyer is really saying is, “It’s not worth my time to talk.”

A more effective response:

“I know how you feel; I’m loaded down with things to do, also. I’d be glad to set up a convenient time to call, but I don’t want to bother you if you’re not interested.

So, quickly, what I wanted to discuss is an idea that might (save money/increase revenue, etc.). Is that something that might be worth five minutes of your time at some point?”

If yes: “Great. Can you spare five minutes now?” If the prospect can’t talk now, then: “I’m looking at my calendar; how about later today or early tomorrow?”

This works because it gets the real issue on the table and asks the buyer to actively decide: Is this worth my time or not?

Here’s an alternative to adapt to your product or service offering:

“Mr. Jones, I’m with you. But before we schedule a time to talk, just one question: Is it a priority for you to eliminate shipping bottlenecks this quarter?”

2. ‘Not interested’
There’s probably nothing more disheartening, and it’s tempting to murmur an apology and move on.

But wait a minute. Are they really not interested? How can they not be interested if they don’t even know what you’re calling about?

Deflecting this objection requires a deft touch. You don’t want to challenge buyers directly. And you don’t yet know what might spark their interest.

What you need to do is find out why they’re not interested. But you don’t just say, “Well, why aren’t you interested?” That’s too confrontational.

Here are a couple of examples of questions you can ask to move the conversation forward:

“Sure, Mr. Smith. But help me understand: Is it because you’ve recently bought a solution for controlling IT costs and keeping software up to date?”


“I hear you, Mr. Brown. Have there been some changes in your business that make it less of a priority to ensure overnight delivery?”

See how it works? You really want to know why they’re not interested, and you’re casting around for possible reasons. And because both questions are asked in good faith, most people will feel obliged to give you an honest answer.

Mr. Smith’s answer might be, “Yes, we bought a solution similar to yours just six months ago, and I don’t want to revisit it.” In which case, you know he really isn’t interested and you can move on.

But the answer also might be, “Well, no, we didn’t. Is that what you’re selling?” And that, of course, gives you an opening to move deeper into the call.

3. ‘The timing isn’t right’
Unless you’re in a one-call-and-close business, timing shouldn’t be a problem.

Your goal isn’t to close a sale now; it’s to engage with buyers wherever they happen to be in the buying cycle. Often, the earlier in the cycle you connect with them, the better for you in the long run.

The “bad timing” reaction is actually a pretty good one, because it creates an opening to confirm the buyer’s interest: “I see. Just so I understand: Apart from the timing, is this something your company could benefit from?”

That approach sidesteps the timing objection for now and allows you to focus on the buyer’s needs.

Later, you can come back to the timing issue:

  • “What will make (date) a better time for you?” or
  • “What’s going to happen between now and then that will make it a better time?”

Listen carefully. If the buyer does have a valid reason for waiting, and is interested in working with you, firm it up in a letter. Then schedule reminders so you stay top of mind in the interim.

Sources: Based on postings by Mike Brooks (; Jim Domanski ( and Art Sobczak (

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