How Profit Margins Die

5 min readDec 7, 2023
Profit margins die when salespeople give away value.

In this story: How to handle your customers’ objections without giving away value or margin.

Written by Maria Edelson, Founder & CEO of Edelson

When a profit margin dies, it’s usually death by 1,000 cuts. The sales conversation sounds like this:

Customer: “Your price is too high.”

Salesperson: “No problem, we can do a 10% discount.”

Customer: “Thanks, but I also need retail support.”

Salesperson: “Sure, we can do all the retail work for you without changing the price.”

Customer: “Wow, great, thank you so much. One last thing, my CFO is looking for extended payment terms.”

Salesperson: “Sure, I can see about an extra five days.”

The salesperson gave away a 10% discount, then gave away some retail support that wasn’t initially part of the deal, and then gave away an extra five days of time without cash in the bank. She had to!

But she didn’t have to. And everything she gave away cost the company money.

This salesperson gave away value because she didn’t know the OVA objection handling model. If she had, she would have obtained all the objections first, then verified the one or two real objections, and finally addressed only those one or two most important objections without giving away 1,000 cuts worth of value.

The OVA objection handling model.


  • You want to hear as many objections as you can as early as you can, because you want to know what the customer is actually thinking.
  • Some objections are real. Some are more important than others. Some can potentially be bundled and addressed as a group instead of being resolved one at a time at higher cost.
  • Bringing them all out is how you know which is which, and it’s the most efficient way to address them with your value.

How do you do this? ASK!

Let’s use OVA while replaying our sales conversation from above:

Customer: “Your price is too high.”

Salesperson: “Ok, you have a concern about the price. Is there anything else that is a concern?

Customer: “Yeah, I am going to need retail support — we can’t do all that work ourselves.”

Salesperson: “Ok, so I heard that price is a concern, as well as doing the retail work. Now, anything else?”

Customer: “Yes, there is. My CFO is looking for extended payment terms. I have to ask every supplier to improve terms.”

Salesperson: “Wow, ok. Now I heard three issues: price, retail work, and extended terms. Anything else?”

Customer: “No that’s it, and boy, these are all problems!”

What just happened? The salesperson just teased out three concerns or objections that may prevent the customer from moving forward and saying yes. And the salesperson did not give the customer anything… yet. Nothing!

Next, we verify the importance of the objections.


Now, once you have ALL the objections on the table, it’s time to have the customer prioritize which is really the most important objection. It’s time to try to identify the one (or maybe two) concerns or objections that are preventing the customer from saying yes or moving forward.

How do you do this? ASK!

Let’s continue the conversation:

Salesperson: “I understand they’re all important, but what would you prioritize as most important?”

Customer: “I told you, they are ALL important!”

Let’s face it, the customer won’t make this easy.

Salesperson: “Of course. I can only address one at a time, so which would you like me to address first?”

The thinking here is ‘first is most important.’


Once you’ve teased out the most important objections, you’re finally ready to address the customer’s concerns.

Salesperson: “So, if I’m able to address these concerns, then you’ll be ready to move forward?”

Customer: “Yes, that would be great!”

When addressing objections, the key is to use your value — the assets and capabilities your solution offers — to solve the customer’s problems. It’s easy to just resort to discounting. But once you identify the customer’s real objection or concern, using value is a powerful tool to move forward productively for both parties.

Below are three examples of very typical objections you might hear, plus how you can monetize value to address these objections about pricing, timing, and risk. You need to show your customer that the total value of your solution is worth more than the rate you’re charging.

Pricing Objection: “I have other competitive offers.”

Response: “Yes, you might have a budget problem. But let’s talk about how much value there is here, and let’s see how we can offset the budget issue using this value. The rate I’m charging is $100 more per container than the competitor. But if you work with us, you save money on storage, detention, and transporting your empty containers. And the total of those three things is $210. So you’ll save more money by paying the $100 per container to work with me.”

Timing Objection: “The timing isn’t right, let’s wait six months.”

Response: “Okay, we can wait six months. However, every month that you use our service, you can save $20,000 for your 120 containers. Every month that you wait is costing you $20,000 in profit. If you wait six months, that will cost you $120,000 in profitability.”

Risk Objection: “I’m OK with what I’ve got because it’s working.”

Response: “You can continue using your current work process, but you’re currently experiencing out-of-stocks at 85% and you’re potentially losing 15% of your revenue off the shelf. Based on your average weekly movement, that could cost you $20,000 per week, which totals ~$1,000,000 annually. With our solution, we have an in-stock history of 98%. You could potentially increase your revenue 13% on an annualized basis. That would total ~$130,000! Why risk losing $130,000 over the next 12 months?”

Are your salespeople giving away value (and margin) with every customer objection?

Are they prepared for customers’ objections and using value — instead of discounts or rebates — to handle objections?

By now the customer should be ready to sign.

But the sale still isn’t closed until they sign!

Feedback is a gift. Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.

This is part 6 of Sales Bites, a 12-part series of stories from 35 years of sales experience with P&G and from training 13,000 sales executives globally. Follow or Subscribe below so you don’t miss the next story.

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