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8/2/2005
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Beware the Objection Removers

Is that sales pitch flying in the face of conventional wisdom? Start asking questions now.

An objection remover is a claim made during the sales cycle intended to counter a fear or concern that you have. Objection removers occupy a gray zone in between legitimate benefits and outright misrepresentations. While an objection remover may be "technically" true, it's a distraction intended to make you close the door on your concern and move forward in the sales process without careful thinking.

Objection removers crop up in every kind of business, but more often than not, the more complex and expensive your problem is, the more likely objection removers will play a role. In the data warehouse world, classic objection removers include:

  • You don't need a data warehouse, now you can query the source systems directly. (Whew! That data warehouse was expensive and complicated. Now I don't need it.)
  • You can leave the data in a normalized structure all the way to the end-user query tools because our system is so powerful that it easily handles the most complex queries. (Whew! Now I can eliminate the step of preparing so-called queryable schemas. That gets rid of a whole layer of application specialists and my end users can sort out the data however they want. And since I don't need to transform the source data, I can run my whole shop with one DBA!)
  • Our "applications integrator" makes incompatible legacy systems smoothly function together. (Whew! Now I don't have to face the issues of upgrading my legacy systems or resolving their incompatibilities.)
  • Centralizing your customer management within our system makes your customer matching problems go away and provides one place where all customer information resides. (Whew! Now I don't need a system for deduplication or merge-purge, and this new system will feed all my business processes.)
  • You don't need to build aggregates to make your data warehouse queries run fast. (Whew! I can eliminate a whole layer of administration and all those extra tables.)
  • Leave all your security concerns to the IT security team and their LDAP server. (Whew! Security is a big distraction, and I don't like dealing with all those personnel issues.)
  • Centralizing all IT functions lets you establish control over the parts of your data warehouse. (Whew! By centralizing, I'll have everything under my control, and I won't have to deal with remote organizations that do their own thing.)
  • Leave your backup worries behind you with our comprehensive solution. (Whew! I didn't really have a comprehensive plan for backup, and I have no idea what to do about long-term archiving.)
  • Build your data warehouse in 15 minutes. (Whew! Every data warehouse development plan I've reviewed recently has proposed months of development!)

Objection removers are tricky because they are true—at least if you look at your problem narrowly. And objection removers are crafted to erase your most tangible headaches. The relief you feel when you suddenly imagine that a big problem has gone away is so overwhelming that you feel the impulse to rush to the finish line and sign the contract. That is the purpose of an objection remover in its purest form. It doesn't add lasting value: it makes you close the deal.

So, what to do about objection removers? We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Showing the salesperson to the door is an overreaction. Somehow we have to stifle the impulse to sign the contract and step back to see the larger picture. Here are four steps you should keep in mind when you encounter an objection remover:

1. Recognize the objection remover. When your radar is working, spotting objection removers is easy. A startling claim that flies in the face of conventional practice is almost always too good to be true. A sudden feeling of exhilaration or relief means that you have listened to an objection remover. In some cases, the claim is written in black and white and is sitting in plain view on your desk. In other cases, you need to do a little self-analysis and be honest about why you're suddenly feeling so good.

2. Frame the larger problem. Objection removers work because they narrow the problem to one specific pain, which they decisively nail, but they often ignore the larger complexity of the problem or transfer the hard work to another stage of the process. Once you recognize an objection remover, count to 10 before signing the contract and force yourself to think about the larger context of your problem. This is the key step. You'll be shocked by how these claims lose their luster, if only they are placed in the proper context. Let's take a second look at the objection removers listed earlier.

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