Last summer I visited Yellowstone National Park with my family. We looked forward to hiking, seeing cool geysers, and were hopeful we’d have the opportunity to see a real grizzly bear in the wild.

Little did we know that on Day 3 as we rounded the bend during a hike, 150 ft away would be a mama grizzly and two cubs.

Within moments, three out of the five of us hightailed it and ran. One slowly backed away and one stood still with a walking stick ready to take on the grizzly if she pounced.

The Fight or Flight Instinct Isn’t Only Triggered by Physical Danger 

That’s what happens when we feel threatened or unsafe. Our adrenaline kicks in. The amygdala at the base of our brain creates signals that shout, “danger, danger!” and we react with the Fight or Flight response. 

It’s not just physical danger that creates this. The Fight or Flight instinct rears its ugly head in our sales conversations when we hear objections or experience perceived rejection.

How Objections Can Trigger the Fight or Flight Instinct

Here’s how it plays out. You have a meeting with a prospective client, and you think it’s going great. You know you can help them. You explained how your solution will address their situation and you’ve explained the fee structure.

Then they say, “this all sounds good but…” and then fill in the blank – “The fees are higher than we were expecting.” “We’re not sure we really want that whole service package.” “We’re talking to other people.” “We need time to think.”

Then our fight or flight kicks in. And either we start talking at them, justifying our fees, telling them how we can change our services, offering them people to talk to, and taking it on as a fight.

Or we start yammering, “That’s okay. I wish you the very best.” and get out of the conversation. Or we give an equally unproductive response like offering concessions such as reduced fees or additional services at no extra cost, creating an unprofitable outcome for ourselves.

Why Fight or Flight Isn’t a Good Response to Objections

The problem is that neither fleeing nor fighting gives that buyer the opportunity to clarify their concern or objection so that we can either learn more about what’s important to them OR identify we need to better explain the value or scope of our services.

We shut it down and create an awkward or adversarial, situation that then either causes them to become defensive and fight back or to walk away with no opportunity to benefit from our services.

Why Fight or Flight Kicks in to Begin with

This unproductive approach in reacting to buyers’ concerns or objections starts with our mindset about objections, concerns, or questions during our sales conversation.

If we think about objections as a threat, leap to the conclusion that the prospect has been wasting our time, or feel defeated that “of course, they don’t want to work with me. There’s better options out there and my fees are expensive.” We rob potential buyers of the opportunity to work through the information exchange that can follow and be able to receive the value of working with us.

How to Escape the Fight or Flight Trap

So, for this message, know that it’s normal to have a physiological reaction. It’s wired into us as humans, but we can hijack it. We can retrain ourselves to not Fight or Flee and instead when we hear a concern, objection, or question to respond collaboratively and work through it with them.

If you want to work better when you hear objections…  adjust your mindset about objections. Self reflect on what triggers you, and reframe objections, so they aren’t feared and don’t feel like a threat. Instead view them as an opportunity to problem-solve with that buyer and find out more about them, which sets up a potential way forward and a winning outcome.  

And if you’d like to learn about HOW to respond to objections, look for our video on Working Through Objections: How to Save Your Sale on my YouTube Channel.

Remember, objections can be a threat or an opportunity.

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