1 Quick Question How to Overcome “Knee Jerk” Objections and Get the Prospect Talking

Are you frustrated with prospects that shut you down and brush you off after you’ve finished your opening statement?

You know the type of objection I am talking about: you barely utter your name and the prospect says, “We’re happy with our present supplier,” or “I’m in a meeting,” or “I am busy right now,” or “Just send me something in the mail,” or any number of other knee jerk objections. And just like that, the call is over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can reduce the impact of knee jerk objections and speak to more decision makers if you apply a smart little technique called “1 Quick Question” (1QQ).

Knee Jerk Objections

As the name implies, a knee jerk objection is a reflexive objection that typically occurs at the beginning of a call. They occur because the prospect was not expecting your call and the automatic response is to toss out an objection.  They do so out of the compelling need to protect themselves “from being sold” and out of the desire to get rid of you as soon as possible. Most tele-sales reps oblige them by lamely mumbling an apology and hanging up. Sound familiar? Don’t be a victim.

How to Deal With the Knee Jerk

Three are three steps to dealing with the knee jerk type objections.

Step #1: Empathize

When you hear a knee jerk objection your first step is to empathize with the client. Say something like, “I understand,” or “I appreciate that.”  This does two things. First, it acknowledges the prospect’s objection. It shows you have listened to the remark and that you understand. Second, it buys you a second or two to collect your thoughts and respond.

Step #2: Ignore the Objection

Ignore what you hear. Don’t fall for the objection. It’s a mistruth. You know it’s a brush off and so does the prospect. Responding to the stated objection therefore a waste of time. So don’t honor it with a retort. Ignore it.

Step #3: Ask “1 Quick Question”

Apply the 1 Quick Question (1QQ) technique. The 1QQ is simply a way to forge ahead with the call before the prospect hangs up. It is extremely easy to apply. Here are some examples to give you a feel for how it works:

Example #1:

Prospect:         “I’m in a meeting right now!”

Rep:                “I understand completely. Just one quick question before I go…”

Example #2:

Prospect:         “I’m happy with our present supplier.”

Rep:               “I’m happy to hear that. Jeff, one quick question if you don’t mind…”

Example #3:

Prospect:         “We don’t need anything right now.”

Rep:                 “I appreciate that. Before I go one quick question.”

You can see the pattern. The rep empathizes but does not directly respond to the objection. Instead he uses the 1QQ technique. It works because the majority of prospects realize that they have been a bit dismissive and possibly rude. (This was their “knee jerk” response).  By politely asking ‘one quick question’, many prospects feel the need to soften up a bit and give you a quick answer before they terminate the call.

Now here’s the interesting thing. Depending on the nature of your question, one quick question often leads to two or three or more questions. Think of it as a wedge in the door. The better your question the greater the opportunity to get your prospect to open up further.

How to Create Your 1QQ

The key to making the 1QQ work for you is your question. Your first step to developing 1QQ is to identify a pain, a problem or a predicament that the prospect typically experiences and that you can solve.  You only have one shot at getting the wedge in the door so your question has to go directly to an issue that is significant to the average prospect.

Developing your 1QQ will take some time and thought but once you have it you’ll be able to use it with virtually every call. So think hard: what is the number one problem your clients experience?

For example, suppose you sell magazine subscriptions to educators that help the teachers plan their curriculum. The problem that many teachers experience is time and it takes to develop new, creative and effective class plans. Here’s one quick question that might work.

“Mr. Gunderson, one quick question before I go: do you find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum for your classes?”

The second step is to have another question prepared. If possible create a question that quantifies the problem. For instance, if Gunderson does find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum your next question might be:

“If I may, roughly how much time do you spend preparing…say, on a daily basis?”

By doing so, the prospect begins to see the magnitude of their problem and may get curious enough to let you continue.

The third step is to pursue your line of questioning, identify the need and proceed as you normally would.


The 1QQ technique gives you an edge by helping to create an opportunity. While not every client will answer your one quick question some will and that’s the strength of the technique.

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