Dealing with objections is a common and difficult aspect of selling. Performing the process involves certain actions and skills that every salesperson should know. These include
- Having situational awareness
- Accruing background information
- Leading with empathy
- And asking thoughtful, open-ended questions.
Most objections are related to price, product fit, or competitors. But, the absence of an objection does not necessarily mean a person is ready to buy.
In simpler terms, Objection handling is when a salesperson responds in a way that makes the prospect feel comfortable accepting the terms of the deal and moving forward with it.
Salespeople, in general, are expert objection handlers. They always know what to say, what not to say, and how to effectively handle counter offers. Most importantly, they know that objection handling is all about the customer; their needs, wants, and what will best fit them.
Although no one way works for everyone, here are some of the best objection handling advice from the experts:
1. Situational awareness and its extension
Situational awareness is the primary weapon you need to equip yourself with; there is no default, magical formula for handling objections. As part of your sales process, you need to understand the nature of the deal you’re pursuing, as well as your prospect’s interests and needs.
To address prospects’ objections effectively:
- It is crucial to understand the circumstances under which they are formed. That’s why you need to maintain situational awareness as your conversations with prospects progress.
- The second tip provided is an extrapolation of the above point: One must thoroughly investigate both the prospect’s business and, to some extent, the prospect themselves.
- What difficulties is the business now experiencing?
- What issues do the prospect’s sector’s rivals commonly deal with?
- What challenges were encountered while working with companies of comparable size in the past.
- What power do they possess to make choices.
Knowing all of that and more will put you in a strong position to deal with concerns in a diplomatic manner.
In his recent publication, Jeb Blount, CEO of Sales Gravy, talked about objection handling saying dealing with them is “one of the most difficult aspects of mastering sales.” He believes this to be true due to the tendency of salespeople to create objections through their behaviour.
The central suggestion Blount provides is simple: relax.
They need to learn to manage their reactions to objections. These reactions normally are triggered by their fears of rejection and these tend to derail the conversation against our interests.
The probability that a person will succeed in reaching their goals will be highest for the one who exhibits the most emotional control in every sales transaction, which for a salesman means moving past “no” and into “yes.”
3. A generalized framework
Austin Twamugabo, an expert in sales and an experienced trainer puts forward a few pointers as guidelines for any salesperson entering the arena and having to face a plethora of objections:
1. Prepare for sales objections. It is rare to make a sales call without encountering sales objections. You should be prepared to answer certain sales objections during the prospecting call.
2. Listen to full objection(s). Pay attention to the issues that the prospect raises. Do it with the goal of understanding the prospect. Make sure your body language and facial expressions should show that you are considering their concerns.
3. Ask for additional information. Any complaints that may not be clear? Ask for an explanation. Continue to ask “What else?” and “Why?” to obtain clarifications and comprehensive details.
4. Validate the objection(s). Refrain from rejecting or minimizing the objection. Tell the potential client that you value their worries.
5. Act on the objection(s) appropriately. Attend to the objections quickly. Start with the most important ones and move to the smaller objections.
6. Discuss solutions to the objection(s). Propose a follow-up call with the prospect. Repeat the objection and your strategy for overcoming it throughout this call.
7. Confirm the objection has been satisfied. Ask if they are happy with the solution provided by you. Inform about any follow-up meetings or information that may be necessary.
4. Isolate the objection:
Chris Orlob, a sales and business analyst at Gongio has a unique perspective having analysed over 67000 sales meetings, he strongly advises to ISOLATE THE SALES OBJECTION.
According to him, Some arguments are only smoke screens. Words from your buyer and the things that are preventing them from taking the next step may not always be the same. Make sure to apply your newly acquired abilities for managing legitimate issues. Without it, you’re battling smoke.
Here is something that prompts your customer to raise their real complaint. If your customer raises further concerns, it’s likely that those are the REAL concerns you need to address. The initial sales objection they raised is the proper one if they don’t have any others.
5. Make Them Feel Heard:
Anita Nielsen advises salespeople to recognize the validity of the buyer’s points and makes them feel heard. The initial statement is called a neutralizing statement, which can be followed by a statement with a high-impact question.
A question that makes it clear that the concerns were heard and taken into account and also sends a message that we empathize with their goals.
The information you extract from these questions is invaluable as they may help in answering their own objections, by clearly understanding what’s the most important goals the buyer has for his or her own product.
Also ask additional questions which could help in charting out an overall profile and answer objections more effectively with personalized answers.
See Related: How to Handle Customer Queries Like A Pro
6. Handling the COVID-19 objection
Bryce Sanders, President at Perceptive Business Solutions has a very pin-pointed advice basis on the recent pandemic and the objection so formed because of its effects
I can’t buy right now because of COVID-19”.
The solution to this is: This might be one of the most commonly heard sales objections during this time.
One method to deal with this is to support them and give them a chance to speak. Because both you and your business are affected, you can be open and relatable about the current circumstances. Most of the time, the prospect is not blatantly rejecting you. They likely intend to say, “I want to purchase, but not right now.”’
So, listen to them, understand their concerns, and talk to them about things that NEED to happen for a business-as-usual state, such as:
● The reopening of the economy
● People returning to offices
● A decrease in infection rate
Ask them to rank the importance of each item on a list of priorities similar to this one. Two out of three? Or all three? It can even be one. Send them updates on these metrics frequently depending on their reaction to stay in touch. As soon as they feel the needle is moving in the right direction, they will be able to make a purchase.
7. Become Relevant
“Remove me from your mailing list. Your emails, in my opinion, are not relevant to the subject at hand. When you think about it, this isn’t a sales objection.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that your prospects are not telling you they don’t want your product. In other words, they’re simply telling you that your emails are not in line with the current situation.
How to handle it?
We are in a completely different situation than we were three months ago. Your previous emailing habits won’t be applicable today, thus. The answer is a straightforward three-step procedure: Reread, assess, and completely rewrite your emails.
Some salesmen who have not adjusted to the new scenario frequently observe that they write emails like any other day.
8. Two Objection Rule
Anthony Iannarino, Keynote Speaker, Author and Sales Strategist has seen one too many of the “There’s just too much going on right now” objections.
This actually stems from the buyer’s fear of wasting too much time. The solution, according to the expert would be to sympathize with their concerns and reinforce the value of the product to them.
Although it might not always be a bed of roses convincing the buyers. They might need more pursuing to acknowledge the value of the product with their needs. Nevertheless, Iannarino advice is to follow the “two objection rule,” where the sales rep should not attempt to resolve buyers’ doubt – or they run a risk of losing a potential relationship.
9. Empathy and Gratitude
Daryl Spreiter, Vice President, Global Enablement, Salesforce.org has formulated six tactics for overcoming common objections. He observes proof integrated into sales pitches is much more effective in objection handling.
He challenges everyone to learn at least 3 new and relevant customer stories a month, which he believes will give customers a reason to trust one with their business.
10. Tackling the financial barrier
Thomas Philip, a veteran Sales Account Manager at Freshworksadvices on an objection that is very prominent in the retail industry, both in, B2B and B2C.
Suppose your customer says that they’re happy with the product but unfortunately cannot pay at that moment.
The customer may be happy with your product, after a demo or a trial, but they may not have the budget or maybe, it might not be their top priority to put your proposal into practice.
How to handle it?
Again, this is not necessarily an objection. Your prospects are telling you they can pay, but not right away if you can read between the lines.
According to Thomas, these days, the majority of software solutions provide a free trial. Additionally, you may extend the trial time if your prospect expresses interest in purchasing but is unable to do so, allowing them to continue using your product. The tactic I employ is to, say, add another two months to the prospect’s trial term of the product if they are still evaluating it. According to my interpretation, they are happy with the outcome. They’ll pay in the future if they’re not prepared to do so now.
By using this technique, Thomas demonstrates to his prospects and clients that he is there for them during difficult times, making sure that they will remember him for a very long time…
11. Predict and prepare
According to Yaagneshwaran Ganesh, Instead of handling objections during a sales call, it is ideal to do so before your prospects raise them. Good salespeople wait for customers to raise concerns before responding to them.
Outstanding sales teams aggressively look for objections to address during the discovery call.
But without having psychic abilities, how can you anticipate objections?
Fortunately, you can trust the data. Look at the behavioural trends in all of your prior sales interactions, including both your own and those of your colleagues.
12. Clarify and Be Specific
CEO/President of A Sales Guy, Keenan advises sales reps to extract more detail from their buyer, especially in numbers and statistics so as to clarify their objections or questions
According to Keenan, too quick for them might be too slow for you. Too cheap for them may be pricey for you. More for them might not be sufficient for you. Assuming that everyone’s expectations and definitions are the same is simply plain silly because we all have our own.
Say NO to negations
- You should never allow yourself to become defensive or hostile: As advocated by Keith Rosen, refrain from replying to complaints with phrases that begin with “but,” such as “But our firm is superior” or “But we give greater value for your money. Instead responding positively is preferable.
- For example, you may say, “We are the only firm that gives a guarantee on our goods. For whatever reason, we’ll return your money if you’re not happy. Our aim is for you to be pleased, not just content.
13. Strike the balance
Expert marketeer Felice Philip Verrecchia gives a simplistic yet powerful insight. The fact that a salesperson can and will always have a tendency to oversell his product and that a primary form of this happening is to relax a little. She says that many times when faced with an objection in the form of retaliation or lack of confidence in the product, one should take a pause before responding; stop, listen, and pause for a few seconds.
This demonstrates to the potential customer that you are actually paying attention to her concern and are not just attempting to close the transaction… Stopping to analyze the situation and talking after a stop provides both time and a sense of patience which extrapolates directly to the customer having a sense of genuine products and goodwill.
14. Find Patterns
Dan Thompson, VP Sales – East, Dialpad advises reps to learn from their mistakes by reviewing what went wrong and finding patterns.
Thompson suggests using trends to find what was the most common objection, what went right and what went wrong, and were the dealbreakers. Work on all of them and integrate the process into your product development.
Create a “cheat list” of typical objections and 2-3 suggested replies using these insights. Try them out and go back to them frequently.
15. The monetary extreme
Alex Cattoni the founder of Copy Posse launchpad addresses another prevalent objection, “It’s too expensive.” Or even, believe it or not — “It’s too cheap”.
People genuinely evaluate a product’s value and quality based on its price, whether they are aware of this or not. He asserts, if it’s too pricey, people could think it’s too smart or advanced. They will doubt the quality of your goods and decide it is not at all worth the price if it appears too cheap.
Instead of focusing on the price they will have to pay at checkout, you could emphasise the overall worth of your product to overcome this issue. In order for them to assess whether or not they are receiving a decent bargain, you must provide them with a frame of reference. The quality of your product is reduced to simple dollars and cents if you solely focus on the price, and the purchasing process becomes merely transactional.
16. Prepare and Reinforce
According to Jim Ninivaggi, Chief Readiness Officer at Brainshark, a plan for the oncoming sales meeting is indispensable to overcome common objections. According to Jim, anything amiss can lead to the loss of a sale, which can have huge consequences.
The biggest mistake Ninivaggi points out he sees in companies is when it comes to managing objections, they lump them in one big category and see objections as obstacles. He also amplifies sales objections as valuable insights because they provide useful insights into the buyer’s mind. Furthermore, Ninivaggi believes that apart from objection handling salespeople should focus on reinforcing their message/pitch for maximizing its effectiveness. Training material could be curated for sales reps to go through wherein they answer the commonly raised objections and practice on them along with the feedback from their supervisor. This could help them to convert sales in difficult situations with ease.
17. Start at Pricing
Jared Knotts, Lead Account Executive at Nutshell recommends starting the pricing discussion at the initial call or contact to avoid or better prepare for objections.
Knotts has seen his share of companies where the budget is restrained and they may be hesitant to buy. Although this situation is easily identified when the above discussions take place at the forefront of the pitch.
Instead of offering a discount on your products or services, you should explain how the same will add value and solve the buyers’ problems. This will quantify the ROI of the product in the customer’s eyes. Also, use examples of customers who solved similar issues with your services.
Keep your price point analysis ready, especially if you have competition in certain businesses. Lastly, if cost is the objection, Knotts advises offering a short-term discount or free trials so they can understand the perceived value before they fully commit.
18. Reach Common Ground
Owner of Engage Selling Solutions, Colleen Francis has observed pricing objections to be the most common objections salespeople face. Mostly due to the buyers having to negotiate the best price for themselves, Francis believes.
The best way to navigate these would be for the sellers to understand and acknowledge the customer’s prerogative to question the price and whether they can reach a common perceived value.
According to Francis, the worst thing one can do is to try to justify or defend the prices. Whereas, the absolute best salesmen tell their customers, “You’re right; our prices aren’t the lowest in the market. ” while looking at them, straight in their eye. How far are we above the norm?
19. Use objections as positive indicators
President and CEO of Partners in Excellence, David Brock, see objections from buyers as “an expression of engagement”. A lack of concerns or objections raised from the buyer means the seller has not created an environment where they are comfortable enough. This in turn might result in missing a key chance to convert the prospect or even connect with them.
Brock believes that 98% of objections can be classified as these
● A misunderstanding of a customer’s problems or challenges by sales.
● Misunderstanding of sales messaging around a solution.
● A significant difference of opinion between the two.
“In selling or working with our colleagues we will misunderstand (and) we will disagree,” Brock writes. “But it’s the process of exploring these, aligning our views and goals, that enables us to engage customers deeply on things important to them. It maximizes our ability to create value with them.”