Praise be the sales objection!
It means prospects are interested enough to engage more. They’re trying to wrap their heads around the possibility of your solution in their control. They haven’t dismissed you.
There’s so much sales potential in objections … as long as salespeople handle them well.
Here are six of the most common objections, the most effective ways to respond to each and six best practices for handling any objection.
Price objections come early and often and usually sound like this:
- We don’t have that kind of budget
- We can’t afford you
- That money just doesn’t exist here
- Your prices are too high
- I can’t even consider your solution without a discount
- I’d never get approval from finance on this
Use these approaches:
Turn the question on its head
President, People First Productivity Solutions, Author of DISCOVER Questions®
“Don’t waste your breath responding to a smokescreen objection. First, check to see if it’s a real objection.
There’s only one way to do this efficiently. Ask the opposite. For example, when they say ‘Your price is too high,’ you ask ‘If you didn’t feel our price is too high, would you move forward with this proposal?’
If they say ‘We already have a contract with your competitor,’ ask ‘If you didn’t already have a contract with them, would you consider doing business with me?’ Stick to the opposite, even if it’s something you cannot change.“
Get it all out on the table
Say: “What else concerns you?”
Why: Most price objections are really about value. Prospects don’t see the value they’ll get for your price. This response helps you get a complete picture of the issues and how to handle them.
Tap the emotion
Say: “You feel frustrated about the price?”
Why: Prospects often object to the price because they want something they can’t have in any foreseeable way. That’s a strong emotion, and if you tap it, you’ll likely get them to open up and might find a solvable issue – perhaps problems getting a loan or concern about a downturn, which can be solved with your pricing options.
Go right at it
Say: “I get what you’re saying. Do you consider this a cash flow issue or a budget issue?”
Why: Sometimes, the price objection is legit. This question helps both of you identify which road you should take to overcome the objection. Cash flow objections might call for breaking up contract terms. If it’s a budget issue, you might have discounts or alternative solutions to offer.
Timing objections come in many forms, including:
- We’re just not ready for a change yet
- No one has the time to take this on now
- This is the worst possible time
Use these approaches:
Focus on a different kind of timing
Author, Selling with Noble Purpose, Founder, McLeod and More
“Breathe! Objections are not fatal, half the time they’re just simple questions, the more angst you attach to it, the bigger a challenge it will become. Don’t answer until you truly understand what the customer is thinking. When you get defensive early, they double down. You want to be open and inquisitive.
Say, ‘I’m glad you brought that up. Now is the perfect time for us to talk about this.’
Then ask non defensive questions like, ‘Can you tell me more about your thoughts on this issue?’ Or, ‘Where does this issue stack up in terms of the others we’ve discussed.’”
Try ‘Feel, felt, found’
Say: “I can understand why you’d feel that way. One of my long-time customers in the same industry as you has told me several times she’s been concerned over the same thing. We’ve found that (a major benefit your solution provides and answers the objection) continuously exceeds her expectations.”
Why: Feel, felt, found is a perennial powerhouse that helps prospects understand their concern makes sense, puts them in good company with the example you give and explains how you can solve the issue.
Say: “I understand where you’re coming from. But what happens if you don’t do anything now?”
Why: Buyers’ responses to this can help them recognize that there’s a consequence of not buying now. They might have that light-bulb moment, revealing status quo in a time they need to improve, a continuation of a pain point, or a missed opportunity to finally make the necessary change.
Prospects will give different reasons why your solution isn’t a good fit (even when you know it is). Some are:
- I don’t see how this fits into our plans
- We’ve been looking at other options and they seem natural
- You aren’t a good fit
Use these approaches:
Ask the right questions
VP of Sales Training, Vector Solutions, Podcast Host, Conversations With Phil
“To handle an objection like that, ask some questions to really understand if it’s an objection or just a brush off. If it’s an objection, ask more questions to understand if it’s a deal killing objection or just something in need of a workaround.
Then take that information and work on it if you can. And if you can’t work on it, ask for permission to circle back if your product or services ever does solve for that objection.”
Say: “So what I’m hearing is (repeat nearly verbatim the fit objection the buyer makes).”
Why: Buyers often feel like salespeople don’t listen to them, instead rattling off features, benefits and counter objections to their objections. By confirming and acknowledging their objection as part of your response, you build a stronger bridge.
Take the blame
Say: “I’m struggling with this, too, and I need your help. What has you thinking it’s not a good fit after you mentioned that X is your top goal and you’ve been positive so far that our solution can help you reach the goal? Where’s the disconnect? What have I missed?”
Why: You don’t want to call out prospects for waffling, but you can approach the “not a good fit” objection with a claim of confusion. Asking them to clarify can help both of you understand the real issue.
Prospects use a lack of interest as their objection, and it might sound like this:
- We aren’t interested in new acquisitions now
- I can’t see how this would work now
- I don’t want to get involved with any purchases
Work your ‘Really’
Keynote expert and author of The Joy in Business – Innovative Ideas to Find Positivity and Profit in Your Daily Work Life
“Whether in person or on the phone, one of the simplest and most effective comebacks to an objection is, ‘Really?’ As in, ‘Really, why is that?’ Or ‘Really? Tell me more.’ Or, ‘Really, how so?’
It’s important to note that the tone has to be one of interest and concern. Avoid defensiveness or sarcasm. When said with the proper tone, ‘Really?’ really works! It’s a conversation extender and a good listening technique.
Always remember: Activity trumps objections. Keep going! Resiliency rules!”
Uncover and validate
Say: “What I hear you wondering is ‘How can I benefit from using this?’ which is a valid concern.”
Why: You avoid rebutting prospects, and set yourself up to answer a question that can lead the sale forward. Now you can move from stirring interest to creating value.
Say: “What is competing for your top priority right now?”
Why: If they can name some serious issues, you know it’s time to arrange follow-up down the road and periodically send valuable resources in the meantime. If they can’t nail down valid priorities, you have the opportunity to explain why solving the issue should be a priority now.
Check the reality
Say: “If you were interested in a new purchase now, would you consider doing business with me?”
Why: Calvert says, “The point isn’t to overcome the objection. The point is to make sure you’ve got the real objection. Oftentimes, by posing the opposite, you’ll uncover the underlying, deeper objection. Sometimes, you’ll even get the buyer to back off of the objection entirely and express a desire to move forward.”
Whether the competition is the prospects’ current supplier, or the competition is in the bidding process too, you might hear:
- Their product is cheaper
- Your competitor promised me more
- My current supplier has always been good
- I’m looking at all my options
Use these approaches:
Say: “It’s smart to consider all the options because our solution isn’t for everybody. I’m not sure I know enough about your business goals and objectives to be sure we’re a good fit. But I’ve found companies that are a good fit tend to be … (give two or three facts that align with your prospect).”
Why: You acknowledge the competition is a viable objection, and then step into aligning yourself with the prospect’s goals and expectations so they might self-eliminate the competition.
Find your advantages
Say: “What is it you love about your current supplier (or product or service)?”
Why: This gives prospects the opportunity to make the case for their objection – and you the opportunity to explain a benefit that’s better or more valuable than what they’re used to.
Make the case for partnership
Say: “I’m happy to hear you work with (competitor). It’s a great company. In fact, we share a lot of mutual customers. Many of them that use both of our solutions find that our product makes accomplishing X much easier since it has (benefit 1) and (benefit 2).”
Why: You spread goodwill by complimenting the competition, and help prospects see they aren’t facing a one-or-the-other situation. They can try you without giving up on their current supplier (yet, at least!)
Some prospects will use “authority” as their objection. For instance, they’re embarrassed to admit they don’t have authority. Or the opposite: They want to hide that they have the authority so the salesperson might give up. You might hear:
- My team will never agree to this
- I don’t have that kind of spending authority
- My boss doesn’t won’t to hear another pitch
- My partner will need to see this
Use these approaches:
Set it up for approval
Say: “That’s fine, but let me ask you. What if (your partner, team, boss) says, ‘Do whatever you feel is right’? Based on what we’ve covered and you understand, what would you tend to do?”
Why: You’ve nearly cemented the approval when the other authorities chime in, or you’ve opened the opportunity to gain access to other decision-makers.
Get the crew involved
Say: “I’m glad you have colleagues who care about (the goal they want to achieve). I’ve given you a lot of information, and I know you do an outstanding job of passing it along and filling the details. It’s time to take some of that burden off you. When can we get the others in on a meeting to clarify everything for everyone.”
Why: When buyers say another person or people won’t go for it, they’ve given you a reason to get the group more involved with the sales journey.
Empower the less-powerful
Say: “I can imagine it’s frustrating when you want to make some changes and everyone else isn’t on board. From what I hear, though, your (colleague, boss, partner) values your opinion. So lets see how we can get their attention with what you’ve learned.”
Why: Salespeople don’t want to make non-decision makers feel insignificant by pushing through them. In fact, that can backfire because the person may not have authority to make the decision, but he or she has the authority to get you to the final decision maker(s). So you want to keep it positive and empowering with them.
6 best practices for handling objections
Before you try to handle the next objection, keep these research proven tactics from Gong.io in mind:
- Pause longer than in a normal conversation after an objection. Then speak with a calm, reassuring tone. No other tip will work if you don’t do this first, researchers found.
- Ask a question in response to the objection. Sure, not all responses will be questions, but the most effective counters start with a question. Ideally, use the buyer’s last few words to create your question. For instance, “Oh, your boss won’t agree?” “My price is too high?”
- Validate the prospect’s issue. Let the prospect know you understand the issue they face. Say something like, “That’s a valid concern. It seems like you’re (frustrated, misunderstood, under pressure, caught in a tough spot, etc.)”
- Isolate the objection. “If we found some way to solve that completely, what other obstacles do you see before we can move forward?”
- Get permission. Once you have the real objections in the clear, neutralize prospects’ minds, making them open to different ways of seeing things. Ask, “Can I bounce a few things off you?”
- Reframe. If they’re open to it, turn their objection on its head. If they claim bad timing, call it perfect timing. No authority? Call them the perfect champion – and explain why. For instance, “You say this is the worst timing because everyone is busy with quarterly reports. That’s high-stakes work you’ve already said you want to improve. Right now is the best time.”
- Move on. Check that you’ve overcome the objection (without using the word “objection”!) Say, “What part of your concern do you feel is still not addressed?”