Even if you research your prospects for hours, tailor your sales messaging and perfect your pitch… you should prepare to face objections.
An unexpected objection can stop a salesperson dead in their tracks. Even the most skilled salespeople will encounter objections during the sales cycle, but many newcomers may struggle to keep a sales conversation alive.
To become a master at dealing with common sales objections, you need to prepare. In our latest blog, we explore a data-driven approach to objection handling, taking a look at the most common objections and helping you to create the most effective rebuttals.
What are sales objections?
Sales objections are any statement or question that suggests your prospect is unsure about buying your product or service. They can simply disagree with the price, ask for extra features, or see little use for an offering. Objections can be verbal or nonverbal, and can arise at any stage of the sales process.
Objecting isn’t always a choice for prospects. Often an objection can be triggered by certain internal restrictions like budget, headcount and role responsibilities, even if they are interested in what you have to offer. The objection — and the reason behind it — can vary considerably. Some prospects will tell you they don’t need your product, others will say they don’t trust your brand. It can be a mixed bag.
Why do objections happen?
Objections happen for a variety of reasons, but they generally stem from a buyer’s lack of information or understanding about the product being sold. Other common reasons for objections include budget constraints, skepticism, and previous negative experience with similar purchases.
The most common objections include:
Price objections are inevitable. They can be related to strict budget constraints, or the prospect may see your product as a “grudge” purchase and expect to negotiate. As a sales rep, you’ll need to prove that your offering is worth their time and money investments, and demonstrate that value.
Business is built on trust. Without market authority it can be difficult to build this trust with your prospect. If they haven’t already heard of you, you’ll need to convince them that your offering is superior to the bigger names in your niche.
Prospects often don’t recognize their need for a specific product. It is expected human behavior for people to reject cold outreach, even if they may have a clear need for your product. Make sure to identify their pain points and deliver tangible proof that you have the solution.
Tunnel vision can hugely limit a prospect’s willingness to engage in your conversation. Competing priorities can take prospect attention away from the issues you’re solving. This can justify inaction on a specific pain point and make them uninterested in what you have to offer.
Handling common objections
To handle objections effectively, you need to be prepared. You’re expecting the objection to come at any time during your sales outreach. Removing the surprise factor allows you to maintain composure and have a response ready in case any objections come your way. You will learn this through experience and researching your prospects, but it also requires resilience.
For this reason, active listening is a key skill in any great seller’s arsenal. Instead of waiting for a gap to plug with sales messaging from a script, take time and make sure you are paying attention. Help your prospect feel that you have genuine interest in their pain points and business needs. Answer their open-ended questions — no matter what they are.
How to overcome active sales objections:
Don’t rush. Try to listen to and understand the objection instead of jumping to conclusions. The last thing you want to do is make a false statement about your product as a response to their objection. By equipping yourself with a comprehensive knowledge of your product, you should be able to handle company-specific objections off the cuff, rather than relying on rehearsed answers or scripts.
Educate and listen
Some prospects will be unaware of the pain points you are solving for them. Take time to get to the real root of their problem, even if they aren’t fully aware they have one. If you can do this within the same conversation, it shows that you are listening and genuine in trying to understand their issues.
Empathy is key to building trust. Play up to their position of power by validating their point of view and right to object. That doesn’t mean talking down on your product or recommending a competitor. React to objections with solutions and understanding. Acknowledge the prospect’s concerns, while shining a light on the key gain points that mitigate their fears.
The more tailored you are in your response, the less resistant your prospect will be. Keep the conversation light and personable. Your prospect is looking for an opportunity to disengage. Decision makers can face an insurmountable number of priorities each day. You need to give them a reason to entertain your response, rather than just ending the conversation.
The power of awareness
When making your sales pitch, you should already be aware of your industry rivals. When a prospect objects, you need to know which of your company’s strengths to compare to your rivals’ weaknesses. That can be value, purpose or another element buyers in your industry focus on.
The person responsible for the purchasing decisions at a company isn’t always clear. Even if your contact isn’t a decision maker, you should still work to build rapport with them. They may be reluctant for you to do so, in which case you can simply present them with tailored content about your product. There’s a chance your contact will then share this information, which could lead to a conversion further down the line.
The worst objections are those that don’t provide any context. A hard “no” with zero explanation is not only a lost sale but a missed chance to get your foot in the door. It’s important to remember that objections = feedback.
Being completely ignored or dismissed by a prospect won’t give you insights that you can then weave into your next sales play. If a prospect objects, always politely attempt to get a response from them as to why they don’t want to buy from you. This is a direct form of feedback that can help you better explain the value your solution can provide them.
Encountering Objections: What Comes Next?
There are different types of sales objections, each of which will need its own rebuttal. Some examples of objections include:
- Your prospect may be too busy to talk
- They may not be interested in your product or service
- You may not be able to deliver what you are selling within the required timeframe
- They might not understand how your offering can benefit their business
- Your product or service may be too expensive for their budget
- They may already buy from a competitor in your market
- You may be talking to someone who isn’t a decision maker
Already, you can start to see how you might respond to some of these objections. If your prospect is too busy, you can offer a follow-up when they’re next available. Chase them up, using a touch pattern that aligns with their ideal customer profile (ICP) for the best chance to re-engage them.
If your prospect doesn’t have the budget…
Highlight the value of your product or service and its cost-effectiveness. Be transparent with your pricing. If necessary, provide a discount or adjust features to help them find a package they’re happier with. Proactively focus on the value your solution provides, rather than the cost. They may know a cheaper alternative, but not necessarily a better one.
If your prospect doesn’t have the time…
This suggests that they may not be aware of a problem you are solving. Use your research on the prospect and speak to the challenges inherent to their market. Creating a sense of urgency is also critical. Reveal how your solution can help, using relevant case studies, marketing data and other resources.
If your prospect can’t see the value of your product or service…
Envisage this as an opportunity rather than an objection. Reconfirm the goals and challenges you’ve identified and explain how your product can solve their specific pain points. This is simply a request for information packaged as an objection. Reiterate the value proposition closely to their specific needs.
If your prospect is focusing on other priorities…
“Call me back next quarter”. Sometimes prospects simply don’t understand the urgency of their pain points. Often, the rebuttal to this is to simply educate the prospect — they aren’t engaged because they don’t see the bigger picture. Excuses can be a sign that your prospect understands there is an issue and is trying to rationalize their inaction. Draw on use-case examples and relevant statistics to sell the urgency.
If your prospect works with a competitor….
A prospect who’s already working with a competitor has already recognized a need and identified a solution. The education has already been done. They are a good fit. In this situation, draw on your competitor battlecard to identify their weaknesses in comparison to your gain points. Help the prospect review their relationship and contract with their existing provider. You may find that they are dissatisfied.
If your prospect isn’t a decision maker…
Building rapport with gatekeepers is crucial. Ask your prospect the name of the right person to speak to, and then redirect your call. It may be that the gatekeeper genuinely believes in your product or service, but doubts there will be any investment from their superiors. By asking them which objections they anticipate, you can prepare a specific business case for purchasing your product, tailored entirely to their needs and challenges.
For new sales reps, the idea of handling sales objections back-to-back can be stressful and daunting. However, as we’ve touched on in this blog, these same objections are essential for driving your sales performance.
By collecting data on your prospect and their reasons for objecting, you can craft and hone rebuttals to their objections, thus improving the success of your process.
Originally from Iver in the United Kingdom, Christina has 25+ years in sales and operations, the majority of which has been at board level. Those who have met Christina would agree that she strives for operational excellence on a daily basis, consistently working in her role as SVP of Sales Services to develop the individuals and teams as a whole.