Stealth Objections

August 31, 2022 • #

An interesting post from Sandy on the “stealth objection”: when a customer, investor, user, employee — anyone — harbors some resistance to what you’re selling them, but doesn’t make it explicit.

My experience here is mostly in getting users to buy or adopt our product. Anytime you’re showing off what you’ve got and selling them on the concept, some objections are out in the open. “It’s too expensive”. “It doesn’t support SSO”. “I can’t integrate with X”. These ones are on the easy end of the spectrum. At least you know where you stand!

But a stealth objection can actually look like like acceptance! You see this particularly when seeking feedback from people on a new thing you’ve built. You ask “what do you think? Could you see this fitting into your workflow?” And you get responses like “That’s cool. I could see some teams needing that for sure.” It masquerades as validation, but might be a simple platitude to be friendly. They may be thinking “This would never work for us. This adds extra steps in our specific process.” If you run too far with platitudes and compliments and don’t dig for the real truth, you might not even stop at indifference. You might take it as validation.

I really like this example from Sandy:

For example, sometimes someone working for the prospect gains from the same sub-par status quo that a startup’s solution fixes - that gain is the stealth objection.

Sometimes the time, money, compliance, or quality-of-life benefits of your solution run against the incentives of stakeholders in the room. Being aware of this possibility helps you keep your hackles up to make sure there isn’t closet resistance you’re up against.