The Universal Rebuttal

“If you remember that an objection is an opportunity to close, you will always be happy to hear one.”
— Chet Holmes

When the average person thinks seriously about buying something that costs money, he also usually thinks of reasons for not buying. This is true even if he has the desire to buy and has practically made up his mind to buy. I am not saying that objections are inevitable in any particular sales presentation but they will happen often enough that we must be prepared to handle them professionally every time.

One of the primary reasons why salespeople don’t like objections is because they haven’t effectively planned for how they are going to handle them. Most sales training courses have a portion of the training devoted to handling objections. I was taught a method of handling objections by a senior salesperson, decades ago, that I have rarely seen in any formal courses. I have however seen many highly skilled, well trained salespeople use this technique to handle objections and have been amazed at both its simplicity and effectiveness. My reason for wanting to write about this objection rebuttal today is that even though NCI training includes this technique, when I tell trainees about it (even the highly trained and experienced ones) most of them say they have never heard it before.

It’s called the Feel, Felt, Found rebuttal and it is simple but when used correctly it is also very effective. Probably the most important advantage this technique gives the salesperson is that it provides a framework for handling many objections, including those that were not anticipated.

It works something like this: Prospect – I like what you’ve shown me but given the state of the economy I just don’t think I can afford it at the present time. Salesperson – Believe me sir, I understand how you feel. Quite a few others in your situation have felt the same way, but after considering our generous payment options, most of them have found that our services are quite affordable.

Now you have positioned yourself for what NCI calls the “staggered fee close.”

The thing I really like about Feel, Felt, Found is that it shows empathy and understanding for the feelings of the prospect. You start by addressing their feelings, then you let them know they are not alone in feeling the way they do. Finally, you tie it all together by showing that despite these valid feelings shared by others, those same people who were in your shoes mentally are now benefiting from the service you are considering rejecting.

I recently sat in on a sales presentation during which the presenter used Feel, Felt, Found three times in a row to handle objections. The first time, I missed it, the second time I picked up on it (and realized it had already been used) and the third time I smiled at the presenter and he smiled back. The prospect never picked up on what was going on. When done correctly, it becomes just another part of the discussion. By the way, he made the sale, it works.

When I introduce a salesperson to Feel, Felt, Found I often meet some resistance. I know that they feel it’s too simple to be very effective. I felt the same when I first heard of it. With practice however, I have found it a wonderful tool to include in my sales toolkit. I’m confident you will too.


Ian Shumaker is a retired Senior Account Executive was with NCI for over six years. Prior to that he was Sales Manager of a utility consulting firm for ten years, he sold computer software for many years and is a Retired Army Infantry Officer.