Being told “no” can be a tough pill to swallow.
In selling, whether you’re trying to meet a quota, squeeze in an extra deal before the end of the quarter, or secure your bonus, the word “no” is too often interpreted as a sign to run for the hills when, in fact, it can be quite the contrary.
A sales objection is an explicit indication from a potential buyer that there is a barrier between their current outlook, and that there are criteria that still need to be satisfied before they will consider buying from you. Beyond that, it’s a sign that the buyer is engaged, and it’s now up to you to handle their objections and redirect the conversation towards a sale.
What is Sales Objection Handling?
Objection handling is when a sales lead presents a concern about the product/service that a company is selling, and the salesperson is equipped to respond in a way that alleviates those concerns and allows the conversation to move forward, hopefully resulting in a sale. Objections are typically in response specifically to price, product fit, or competitors, but occasionally prospects will more generally brush-off the salesperson and seem unwilling to converse.
It’s important to be able to distinguish between sales objections and brush-offs. While objections are specific and authentic, brush-offs are more general excuses. Think of an objection as, “I see the value in your product, but I’m not sure about buying it for X reason.” On the other hand, a brush-off translates more generally too, “I don’t really want to talk to you.” Customers with objections are far more engaged than leads that are trying to brush you off.
When handling objections, some sales reps attempt to argue with their prospects or try to pressure them into buying from them — this isn’t truly objection handling. This method will only lead to prospects clutching their position even more tightly; what’s worse, these salespeople will almost certainly end up losing the trust and rapport they’ve built up with customers.
Methods of Handling Sales Objections
Nothing is more detrimental to a potential deal than allowing sales objections go unaddressed until the final stages. The longer the buyer holds an opinion, the stronger that opinion usually is — and the harder you’ll have to fight to overcome it. It is imperative you respond appropriately and avoid reacting impulsively to your prospect’s objections. To help, here are some helpful strategies for handling objections.
1. Practice Active Listening
First and foremost, as your prospect is sharing their concerns with you, always make sure you are using active listening skills to fully take in what they’re saying.
While your prospect discloses their objections, listen to understand, not to respond. Avoid interrupting them while they are speaking and always give them space to voice their concerns and objections freely without judgement.
2. Repeat Back What You Hear
Once your contact has stated their objections, repeat back what you heard to ensure and convey that you are understanding correctly. Not only will this help clarify their points for you, a sincere acknowledgement can circumvent an argument and also help your prospect feel valued. Sometimes, your customers just want to know that they are being heard which is paramount for building trust.
3. Validate Your Prospect’s Concerns
After you have confirmed that you understand where your prospect is coming from, continue building trust by empathising with your customer, and validating their point of view. No, that doesn’t mean you have to speak negatively towards your product or recommend a competitor, it simply means that you should never dismiss their concerns as being wrong.
For example, if you are selling CRM software and your prospect is worried about their ability to implement your software into their complex mix of tools, you could say, “I understand, implementing new software can feel like a daunting task. Thankfully, we have an incredible tech team that has experience working with similar organisations and can handle a seamless transition for you.”
With this response, you are acknowledging that their concern is valid and normal, and you are offering a solution to mitigate their fears.
4. Ask Follow-up Questions
Whenever you hear objections, you will naturally want to do all you can to keep the conversation going in a comfortable way. If you can hear that your prospect is pulling back, asking follow-up questions can be a tactful and non-confrontational way of keeping them on the line.
Try not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Make sure you ask open-ended questions that allow your prospect to continue expressing their thoughts on your product. Some great examples are:
“Do you have any concerns around X?”
“Are there any obstacles that would stop you from buying?”
“How confident do you feel you’d see success from [product]? Why?”
“You seem a little worried about X. What are your thoughts?”
The more information they provide, the more you will have to go off of in order to potentially turn the sale around.
5. Leverage Social Proof
Depending on the nature of your prospect’s concern, sharing the story of another customer who had similar reservations and went on to see success with your product can be a great approach.
If you are in B2B sales, you can also leverage relevant information about your prospect’s competitors and any success that they may have seen from overcoming a similar objection.
6. Set A Specific Date And Time To Follow-up
If your prospect asks for more time to think things over, give them the time and space to weigh their options. However, you don’t want to leave them hanging, our own sales research indicated that it’s most effective to set up a specific time and date to follow-up in the near future, preferably the same day. Do not allow too much time to pass and offer to be available to field any questions they have in the meantime as they deliberate.
7. Anticipate Sales Objections
Ultimately, the most effective strategy for handling sales objections is to anticipate them happening. When you are prepared for objections to come up, you’re far less likely to be thrown off when they inevitably arise.
Having a set of neutral recommendations ready to offer prospects when objections arise can keep sales moving. These must show that you have listened to buyers over time and explored their rationales rather than giving knee-jerk responses. Customers are usually willing to hear you out if you have an alternative solution to offer them.
Keeping track of the objections you receive most often is also incredibly helpful when procuring these neutral recommendations. Once you know what to expect most often, you can devote extra time to practising and refining your responses.
We also recommend sales reps engage in internal role plays to boost their objection handling abilities. Take turns with another rep on your team posing common objections (like the ones on this list), and practise answering, and give each other feedback.
8. Use The Right Sales Tools
Other research has found that salespeople only spend one-fifth of their day actually talking to prospects. They spend 21% of their day writing emails, 17% entering data, another 17% prospecting and researching leads, 12% going to internal meetings, and 12% scheduling calls. The precious little time remaining for conversations means that it’s all the more important to say exactly the right things to address a lead’s concerns.
The best way to ensure that your teams are making the most of their limited time is by equipping them with the right sales tools and software. , That being said, it is difficult to know what tools are best for your team. If you’re unsure, a good place to start is with a CRM system, as they are versatile, customisable and a one-stop-shop when it comes to navigating sales objections.
This kind of software is specifically designed with sales enablement in mind and will help your team review key contact information like past conversations and objections before reaching out to your leads. This means that your sales staff will be well prepared and focused when they have your customers on the other end of the line. It also means that any ongoing negotiations will be recorded and flow more naturally thereby improving your business’s rapport and ensuring your customers feel valued and listened to.
To summarise, objection handling doesn’t have to be a painful activity for sales professionals. Instead, objections should be viewed as opportunities to really help and understand your customer and to deepen your relationship with them.
Now you know the tactics for improving your objection handling, it’s time to practice! A great place to start is by reviewing the 3 most common sales objections.