Sales: The Difference Between Objections and Excuses


Part of being in sales is dealing with prospect/customer objections. It does not matter if you are the top performer in your company – at some point, you’re going to have someone say “no” to your pitch.

In normal circumstances, when a prospect says “no”, you will want to go in to your objection handling step. Once you overcome the objection, you can move on and attempt to close again.

However, what if the customer presents an excuse rather than a true objection? What’s the difference between the two? How can you identify which is which? Are there different methods of overcoming an excuse rather than an objection?

This post will be about identifying the difference between an excuse and an objection and what to do in each instance.

Excuses happen when people are disengaged.


A customer objection is a legitimate reason why the prospect or customer believes that they cannot purchase your product.

A customer excuse is essentially a made-up reason why the customer does not want to purchase your product.

The Difference

The difference between the two is subtle, yet extremely important. first, let’s look at objections.

Objections are basically real issues in the mind of the customer as to why they cannot purchase. Objections usually fall in to one of five categories: no trust, no desire, no hurry, no need, or no money. When presented with an objection, it’s handy to know which category it falls under, so check out this article about how to detect the different kinds of objections and how to overcome them.

On the other hand, excuses are a different breed of the “no”. Excuses are made-up reasons why the prospect does not want to purchase. Most of the time, excuses stem from an overall lack of motivation from the prospect. If the prospect does not feel motivated or inspired by your product, they will have absolutely no reason to purchase it. Excuses happen when people are disengaged from the pitch and do not see the value in the product/service.

Spotting the Difference

After your pitch, unless you delivered the perfect pitch to your prospect, they will tell you “no”. What they say next after the no is important in discovering if it’s an excuse or an objection holding them back.

If you hear them say “This sounds great, let me think about it.”


“Wow, that’s an interesting offer! Let me review my numbers and we’ll get back to you.”

Rather than true objections, those are simply excuses. We can tell because they do not fall in to any of the above objections categories. These are attempts by the prospect to end the sales call and hopefully never hear from you again.

On the other hand, if you hear the prospect say something like:

“You know, that’s an interesting offer, but I honestly do not think that is in our budget.”

See the difference? Here, the prospect presented you with the real objection of the budget constraints. The prospect is giving you something that you can work with – if it’s truly the budget holding him back, you can isolate that objection and overcome it.

What do Do

If you are presented with either an objection or an excuse, the best course of action is to follow the E.C.I.R.R Method of overcoming objections. This has a couple benefits for you:

  1. If you are presented with an objection, you will be able to isolate it and overcome that particular objection.
  2. If you are presented with an excuse, this method will either isolate a true objection hidden somewhere in the excuse, or show you that the prospect has no motivation to buy it.

For example, if you are hit with the excuse of “I have to think about it”, by using the objection handing method, you can ask the follow up question of:

“Alright, well, just so we are on the same page, you are 100% on board with everything so far, but the one thing that’s holding you back is that you just want to think on it for a little bit?”

If the prospect is being honest with you, they will more than likely respond with something like:

“Well, it’s really an issue of the price.”

There it is…the true objection hidden within the excuse.

Or, they will respond with:

“No…I just have to think about it.”

If this happens, the prospect was unfortunately not motivated enough to make a decision. If this happens, do not give up! Use this as an opportunity to close again at a later time with something like “Alright, I will follow up with you on this time and date so we can discuss this further.”

Objections are Good, Excuses are Bad

Objections are a scary word for salespeople, but in this game, an objection is always better than an excuse. When you are presented with a true objection, it means that the prospect is engaged in your presentation and is actually thinking about if your product will work with them or not. As salespeople, we can anticipate and prepare for objections ahead of time. Excuses are something that we cannot prepare for because they are simply not true reasons why someone cannot buy.

Practice with objection handing, and know when you are presented with an excuse. If you follow the E.C.I.R.R. Method of overcoming objections, you should be able to isolate an objection out of any excuse.



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to

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