Clarify Objections Like a Pre-Schooler

by Mary Beth Berry D.R. Horton, Greenville, SC

Anyone who has heard me talk about my four-year-old Charlie knows I have given birth to and have unintentionally trained a small salesperson.  My “no” is just the kick-off for his negotiation, and his ability to ask obsessively curious questions is unrivaled.  He is smart as a whip and stubborn as a mule. He is destined to be a Top Producer.

But this morning made me laugh (On the inside, of course. On the outside, I was a very stern and serious mom.). Here is what happened:

I have two boys, ages two and four.  They have a bad habit of not eating all their healthy breakfast and then asking for chips around 10:00 A.M. when they are still hungry.  This morning, looking for something that might entice them to eat a full meal, I tried a new nutritious food item — a whole grain English Muffin. The boys could decide if they wanted jelly or not on the muffin, and they could also choose a fruit on the side.

Charlie chose, “No jelly, just butter. And a side of avocado, please.”

He sat and quickly devoured the avocado, left the English Muffin untouched, and skipped off to play. The next conversation went something like this…

“Charlie, please eat your muffin.”

“No, thank you.”

“That’s not a choice, Buddy. Sit at the table and eat your muffin.”

“But, Mommy, why?”

I replied with the first answer that came to my “cheesy mom” brain, “Because I need you to get full of nutritious food, so I know you have enough energy to play all day long.”

“Oh…” he said. Unfazed.

He then ran around the table, yelling, “AHHHHHH!” When he finished, he looked at me, grinning, and said, “See, Mom, plenty of energy. Can I be done?”

I only had him eat half the muffin. I’m a sucker for a good negotiation.

Where did Charlie go right? And where can we sales pros learn from his quick, unflustered wit?  

He clarified my objection.

When there was something that he and I were not quite seeing eye-to-eye on, he asked me WHY. Then, he quickly isolated and addressed that issue – the fact that I wanted him to have energy.  In his four-year-old brain, he heard my clarification and calmly thought, “Oh, well, this is easy! I have plenty of energy without the muffin.” And he proceeded to demonstrate that fact and then re-close like a champion.

The truth is, I could have had any number of responses for why he should eat that whole grain English Muffin including (but not limited to), “Because that’s what we agreed you would eat.” “Because a clean plate is a happy plate.” “Because I don’t want to throw away this English Muffin only to have you ask me for chips in 15 minutes.” Or, a favorite go-to, “Because I said so…” 

He clarified my concern about his energy levels and addressed it accordingly. Bravo, Charlie!

Sales Pros, when you get an objection, don’t assume you know the answer.

Let’s review how we overcome objections using the “Eat your English muffin” disagreement as the objection template. We can use Charlie as a nearly perfect example… and also examine what a Sales Pro like you might do slightly different than a four-year-old.

Listen and Acknowledge –  This is the part where many well-trained pros will empathize with their buyer. But, the key in this step is to be unfazed and not appear flustered or defensive.

– Charlie: “Oh…”

-Sales Pro: “Oh, I see. I want to understand more about where you are coming from here…”

Clarify – Ask WHY this is an objection or concern.  If you don’t know why, you can’t do the next step.

– Charlie: “But, Mommy, why?”

– Sales Pro: “Can you tell me why this English Muffin is important to you?”

Isolate – Clarify the objection until there is an addressable issue.  At this point, it’s a great best practice to repeat the objection back.

– Charlie: He didn’t do this part.

– Sales Pro: “So, let me get this straight, you are most worried about my energy levels?”

Address the Concern

– Charlie: “Ahhhhhh!” (runs around the table)

– Sales Pro: You probably can’t beat Charlie’s demo on this one. His demo was relatively flawless. But here is a link for three simple overcoming objections techniques by Ryan Taft, Overcoming Objections in New Home Sales article.


– Charlie: “See, Mom? Plenty of energy. Can I be done?”

– Sales Pro: “As you can see, I have plenty of energy to carry me through the day. Let’s skip the muffin and move on, shall we?”

My son might not be a sales prodigy. He DID skip the “acknowledge/ empathize” and “isolate” pieces of the framework… but if you can only remember part of the objection framework, I encourage you to ALWAYS clarify your buyer’s concern before you address it and ultimately re-close.

You may negotiate a better breakfast… or even better, help a buyer get out of their own way and make a fabulous decision to buy a home from you!

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