Client Objection Handling

Expert AdviceHaving delivered a sales training programme last week, the age-old bugbear of the recruitment consultant reared its head – objections! It never ceases to amaze me how long some of these objections have been around and how many still see them as such a roadblock. I remember some of these from my first few weeks in recruitment too! With fewer opportunities around currently, the better you get at handling these the more effective you will be. Given that we are pretty much guaranteed that these are going to arise, there is really no excuse for not being prepared and ready to handle them. Now, before you read further, everyone develops their own way of dealing with them. My concern is the recruiters who keep coming up against the same objection and not finding a way of dealing with it! I have put together a few ideas here to help. I must admit that a lot of a recruiters’ ability to handle objections sits in their delivery and the congruence they can demonstrate with what they say. Sound like you mean it and be yourself. There are some recruitment trainers out there who swear that learning rebuttals is the only way forward. I disagree. They can help though nothing is going to work 100% of the time. Flexibility and the confidence to say something is the first step!

We always advertise

Do you? Do you really? Have you noticed how when clients speak they make such sweeping generalisations as we always do this and we never do that and we certainly never pay that much? Even if they do regularly advertise what comment have they made about success? What if they advertised 90% of the past years’ vacancies, what did they do with the other 10%?? Here are some statements and questions that could help navigate this objection:

“I also advertise as well, just like you. Naturally I know, as you do, that advertising alone does not guarantee my clients that they are finding the best candidate. Currently only 17% of my candidates are attracted through advertising. What are you doing to ensure you attract the other 83%?”

“In my professional experience, the vast majority of applicants to adverts turn out to be unhappy, unqualified, unemployed, unsuitable or even sometimes unemployable. How do you protect your business from these?”

“How do you know you are getting the best candidates?”

“Where do you advertise?”

“What guarantees do you have that you will find the right person?”

“What would you do if it failed?”

“Are you aware that 68% of single insertion adverts fail on their first run?”

“What percentage of suitable candidates that can do the job do you think are looking in that publication/on that site??”

Make a statement, ask some questions, gather some information then empathise and close them…

We don’t use agencies

Another, high quality, client tactic. This is not an objection. Never in a million years. How can telling me how they don’t recruit ever be an objection?? (It may be designed to get me to go away though any sales person knows the sale begins at “no”).

“I’m telling you now, I certainly don’t advertise on the side of busses when I am recruiting…”

Great news, tell me another way you don’t recruit. “Sure! I don’t use agencies!”

See how useful this is to us (and them)? The true objection is how they do recruit not how they don’t.

“That’s interesting, Tell me…How do you recruit?” – The answer to this is the real objection.

“You sound pretty switched on to me, because nor would I. Let me tell you how I work and I know you will realise the difference between me and agencies..”

“Once I tell you what I do, you will soon begin to realise why I am so different…”

Sorry, we aren’t currently recruiting


According to the training received by clients on how to get rid of agencies this is the easiest. Why? Most “agencies” out there are looking for today’s jobs to fill, rather than develop business relationships. Treat it with the level of respect it deserves:

“Although interesting, that’s not why I am phoning…” Then tell them why you are – classic rebuttal to the accusation of why they think you are phoning!

“I didn’t anticipate you would be! The reason I am phoning is much more specific and with regards to…” Side step it!

“Good news for you then I guess! Tell me…if you were recruiting how would you go about doing it…” Plough through it”

You’re too expensive!


Have you been on my negotiation training yet?? If not, why not? Can’t handle this? Then you should book yourself on it! This is a basic comparative deletion. This means that, for the sentence to make sense there is a comparative index they are using to create the accusation of “expensive” that they have unconciously removed from the sentence. Therefore, there is one way to handle this:

“It’s interesting you say I am expensive, compared to what?” This then becomes the objection by recovering the comparative deletion.

“I haven’t quoted you a price yet so how do you know??”

“When was the last time you tested my service to get a measure of value as opposed to cost??”

Thanks for your call but we have a PSL.


My favourite. Seriously this is the one I wanted to hear more than any other. Why? Because it sends a shiver down the spine of many a new business consultant due to the image it creates in your mind. Picture the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That seems to be what some consultants imagine a PSL looks like. Add to this the sound of angels singing and a blinding light emanating from the PSL itself. Reality? Next client meeting ask the client to show you the psl. Normally it’s a piece of paper at the very most. Act like it is nothing and soon it will be! The choice is yours to decide – Do I or do I not wish to join the PSL?

“Excellent news! Tell me…who is currently on it?”

“How did you choose those suppliers?”

“When was the last time you reviewed the quality of your PSL, How would you like to take advantage of our PSL Benchmarking Service © ? It is totally free and gives you the peace of mind to know that your PSL is definitely providing you with the best candidates in the market”

“When was the last time you had to go outside of it?”

“What would you do if it let you down?”

“How do you recruit for niche skill sets?”

“That’s a great way to recruit high volume positions, how do you deal with more difficult to find skills?”

“what do you like about those suppliers so much?”

“If you became a consultant/managing director at that supplier how could you improve overall customer satisfaction? What one area of the service would you make even better?”

We’ve just recruited!


This is great news because the whole process is fresh in their mind so we can review and then advise how we could do it even better! There is also clearly an opportunity for a backfill to chase whether it is a temp, perm or contract position they have just filled.

“Congratulations! How did the process go?”

“If you had the opportunity to do it again what would you do differently?”

“How did you find the right person?”

“Who did you recruit? What background/company did they come from?”

“When are they due to start? If they don’t turn up on the first day, what will you do?”

We rarely recruit


The client who recruits the least is the one who is most likely to have least considered how they will in the future when they do! This means they also are the least likely to think that they will have to in the future. Question accordingly…

“When was the last time that you did? How did you go about doing it?”

“The market has changed drastically in the last few months, let me tell you what is currently working should you find yourself in a position where you are recruiting…”

“Scary thought then should somebody leave…”

“What will you do if somebody resigns tomorrow?” They can reply to this with as much certainty that they won’t as I can say that they will! If that doesn’t work ask the same question again with varying degrees of probability..

“What will you do if/when someone in the team wins the lottery/retires/falls ill/dies…..” Although I know already you are as certain as I am that these things happen everyday only you know which you could get away with when talking to the particular client your are selling to.

We don’t pay fees


Do they not pay fees and still use agencies?? This is a redressed version of the objection “We don’t use agencies”. One question should draw, like a splinter, the true objection:

“That’s interesting tell me…How do you normally recruit?”

“What experience do you have of using external recruitment organisations?”

We’ve had a bad experience with agencies


Wow! Is this designed to scare me off? I love hearing about bad experiences even if, dare I say it, it was with my own business (as long as it wasn’t me!!!). Why? Getting it off their chest is so cathartic for the client. Let them speak and get them to tell you everything that happened.

“That’s terrible, tell me exactly what happened…”

“How did that make you feel?”

“What were the wider implications of that?”

“What would you do differently next time?”

“If you were to work as a recruitment consultant, what would you do differently?”

Get all of the info and then sell your relevant features, advantages and benefits to overcome the objection.

We recruit via word of mouth/job boards/internal recruitment/job centres


This one rears its head in different forms. As with the first one it is often emphasised with always. Quite often it then has the double binding statement with it “…and we don’t use agencies.”

“That’s a great way to recruit and one of the ways I recruit myself. Naturally, as both of us are aware nothing works all the time. Tell me…How do you recruit when that fails?”

“What contingency plans do you have in place should you struggle, from time to time, to find the right candidate?”

“How do you know you are definitely getting the best candidates?”

“What do you like about that method so much?”

“What one change could you make to create an even better response?”

For all of the above objections the keys to success are:

  • Believe the client needs you and that you are the best.
  • Make a statement, ask some questions, gather enough information to both test and understand the objection.
  • Empathise when you understand: Feel, Felt, Found.
  • Overcome the root of the objection with relevant features, advantages and benefits.
  • Close on some form of commitment!

Any questions then drop me an email. Any tip ideas you want to share then send them through to me…

Related Articles:

Real Closing Techniques

How to Break PSL’s

The Forgotten Art of Recruitment

and don’t forget:

Recruitment Dad Reveals His Identity

Recruitment Jobs and Careers

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3 Responses

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  1. Very good refresher and well worth a read

    Paul Anderson 18 May 2010 at 10:27 am Permalink
  2. Really good and somehow obvious, thanks for this.

    Naz Lewis 18 May 2010 at 8:42 pm Permalink
  3. If any recruiter tried these standard objection handling tactics on me, I would suddenly become ‘too busy’ to talk. When I am not in a mood to buy, I just want to get off the phone quickly and these tactics would annoy me so recruitment consultants beware! My opinion is that this sort of sales ‘advice’ is dated and on the whole does not work. To sell well you have to have an open mind andquick wits and an ability to listen…I mean really listen. To be able to assess the tone of your prospects voice, to assess their mood, to ‘read between the lines’ and most importantly to reduce or remove the tension that exists when atempting to sell. The truth is, manipulation (objection handling) develops tension and causes the client to become defensive and suspicious as opposed to relaxed and receptive (the way you need them to be)

    Chris 22 August 2011 at 5:09 pm Permalink

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