Feel, Felt, Found is Dead. Or is it?

The most commonly used structure to reply to objections is “Feel, Felt, Found.” I’ve read it in books that were written decades ago and I still run into young reps who were taught the method in their first sales job.

And prospects are sick of hearing it.

How do I know this? The stories I’ve heard. Reps have told me they started to reply with it, and before they finished the prospect cut them off with, “Don’t you feel felt found me!”

If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s Feel, Felt, Found in all its glory:

“Mr. Prospect, I understand how you feel. Many of our customers felt the same way in your position. After digging deeper and learning more, what they found is this was better/smarter/cheaper than what they were doing.”

You can rewrite this script for any and every objection you will ever encounter. Except you shouldn’t, because “Feel, Felt, Found” is dead.

What killed the most powerful objection script?

Canned replies no longer work well in sales and never will again. The sales process should be renamed the buying process because the buyers own it. Today’s purchasing decisions are made more systematically and logically than ever. Cookie-cutter sales processes don’t fit this buying process.

The power is in the hands of the buyers nowadays. You often find multiple key stakeholders at an organization have already decided they’re going to take a look at a new product before talking to any vendors. They’re rarely initiated by a sales rep digging into an account.

Should you stop prospecting? Hell no. Getting in front of the prospect that first time is crucial.

Sales leaders will tell you that prospects who come back for a second demo are far more likely to buy, which is true. They come back because their company is later in the buying process and ready to seriously consider making a purchase. You want to be in that process when the buyer is ready.

Which brings us back to “Feel, Felt, Found,” since getting that first meeting is often times the hardest meeting to get.

That prospecting call is the one you’re going to get beat up on. You will need to be ready to handle those objections, because they’re coming.

Thankfully, “Feel, Felt, Found” isn’t really dead, it simply got an upgrade.

Every objection can be handled with a variation of “Feel, Felt, Found.” The challenge is that you will have to talk like a normal, knowledgeable, and understanding human being to prospects.

What do I mean by that?

Here’s where I see a lot of sales reps go wrong early in their careers. I certainly made that mistake.

In my first sales role everyone I called was already using a competitor’s product. I got the objection, “We already have someone who supplies us that,” every week. Early on my reply was atrocious:

Me: “I know you’re using someone else’s product, that’s why I’m calling. We’re a full-service company that provides a safer, environmentally friendly, and often less expensive alternative to what you’re buying now. When can I come by to show you the difference?”

Let’s turn this into a “Feel, Felt, Found” reply:

Me: “I understand how you feel having a good relationship with your vendor. A lot of our customers felt the same way when we first spoke to them. What they found was that we offered a higher level of service, a safer way of delivering the product, and a simpler solution than their current vendor at a similar or better price.”

The problem with that reply is it’s clearly a script, and no one wants to be sold to by someone using canned replies. Today’s buyer wants a customized presentation and solution. What you say should feel customized to the prospect, even if it is a script.

Here’s my reply rewritten without those three cursed words:

Me: “I totally understand where you’re coming from, you have a good relationship with your vendor. A lot of our customers said the same thing when we first spoke to them. The reason they took a look at us initially was because they liked the idea of never having to reorder product or deal with fixing equipment because we offer full service to all our customers, plus we can offer the same quality product at the same price or less.”

Can this tweaked method work for any objection? Absolutely.

Let’s walk through another one. I find the most dramatic difference in how this method changes an objection reply is when the prospect brings up budget. First, I’ll walk you through “Feel, Felt, Found”:

Prospect: “We don’t have the budget for something like this.”

Me: “I understand how you feel, budgets are important. A lot of our customers felt the same way when we first talked to them. What they found was that by taking a look they could see how this fit into their future plans so they could decide if it was something they could carve out now or further down the line.”

Honestly, the line that kills “Feel, Felt, Found” is the “Felt” line. It feels (haha, get it?) so generic that it turns prospects off instantly.

Here’s how I would say that same reply now:

Me: “I understand, you have a budget that’s locked in. A lot of our clients were in the same position when they first spoke to us. The reason they took a look initially is because they were interested in learning how we’d gotten results for similar companies, that way if this seemed like a good fit they could factor it into their next budget.”

Rewriting these objection replies is not the hardest thing in the world. It’s much harder to use “Feel, Felt, Found,” trust me.

Here’s how I personally do it:

Sentence 1: I understand.

Most of the time the “Feel” includes those same two words at the beginning. Drop the feel. This is your change to empathize with the prospect in a more genuine way. How do you typically say “I understand” or “I get it” to your friends? There’s the core of your opening sentence.

Sentence 2: I’ve heard this one before….

In reality you’re going to hear the same half-dozen objections for your entire sales career. All of them will be said by someone who becomes a customer before they sign on the dotted line. Let your prospect know that without the corny “Felt” line.

Sentence 3: Here’s why you should take the next step.

This is different from “Found” in a crucial way. “Found” is what your customers discovered. You can go that way, or flip the story on your prospect and explain to them how their world could be different if they continued on the journey. It might sound hokey. Think about it. Do you ever find yourself thinking about your own life’s adventure? Bring the prospect on one. It’s more interesting and exciting.

Whatever you do, drop the “Feel, Felt, Found” out of your vocabulary today. You can come up with better ways of connecting with a prospect than using those words.

What are some of your best objection replies? Let me know in the comments!

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