Getting objections during your sales process is expected … though it can be one of the most frustrating aspects of selling. You’ve done your research, prepared for a phone call or demo, and then you’re hit with the but. "Your product is great and all, but I don’t have the money for it." Or, "I could easily use what you’re selling, but my boss won’t agree to it." Ugh. After all your hard work, it can feel like you’ve hit a brick wall.
… But(hehe) it doesn’t always have to be that way. Although they can be frustrating, objections are another opportunity for you to use your expertise to influence qualified prospects' decision to buy and even weed out prospects who aren't a great fit for your product or service. That’s great -- especially since you have the inbound marketing and sales collateral to help you out (right?).
So how do you get out of the negative spiral of frustration and into positively addressing objections? To help you figure it out, we’re going to use the four main objections you’ll hear on the phone and give you tools to address them with your opportunities -- all with a very inbound approach. Here’s what you should do.
The 4 Most Common Sales Objections, and How to Handle Them
There are four main objections you’ll hear on the phone when you're trying to make a sale, and they all revolve around budget, authority, need, and timeliness (also known as BANT). Knowing how to recognize these objections and having a process in place to handle them is key to closing a sale or removing a poor-fit prospect from your sales queue. We’re going to walk you through each objection and give you tips for addressing them, so let’s get started.
Objection 1: Budget
This is probably the easiest objection to identify right off the bat -- it’s all about the moolah, baby. Prospects may say things like, “I don’t have money for your product,” or “There’s no room in the budget for us to buy your product.” They may even ask if you can give them a discount. So when a person brings up the issue of money, how should you respond?
How to Handle the Objection
Concerns about the cost of your product can go deeper than the sticker price, so it’s up to you to figure out what their true reasons for indecision are. Dig deeper to find out why they aren’t happy with the product's price. Is it just sticker shock? Or is it that they don’t see the value in your product for the price that they have to pay? Getting to the root of the objection is key -- it will help you choose the right language to use with the prospect.
If it really is just sticker shock, you can explain about all the components that make up your product and emphasize how much value they're receiving for the price they are paying. If the prospect isn’t convinced of the value of your product, you’ll probably want to explain how much he or she could save using your product. Both conversations are similar yet slightly different to better address the needs of your prospect.
Also, if they ask for a discount -- don’t feel like you need to offer it right away. First, find out how much of a discount they are thinking is possible. No need to promise $1,000 off a product or service if the potential customer is willing and able to pay the price with only a $100 discount. You also probably have a monthly revenue goal to hit, so giving discounts to anyone and everyone isn’t feasible. By asking up front, you’ll be able to better set expectations and maybe even close the sale.
Objection 2: Authority
In this objection, prospects may try to pawn the decision off on someone else. This is a very common objection, especially if there are multiple decision-makers within a company. You’ll hear, “I have to speak with my boss/CEO/designer/coworker/mother about this before deciding,” or “My boss/CEO/designer/coworker/mother says no thank you.” So what do you do when you're given the slip because of someone else?
How to Handle the Objection
First, validate that the objection makes sense. While this may seem like a small step that doesn’t necessarily need to be addressed, validating the opportunity's concerns will help you better connect with them. It also opens you up to the next step: finding out what the third party's needs and fears are about your product or why the decision-maker said no.
After you get to the root of the problem, you’ll be able to do two things: 1) address the third party’s objections before you even get them on the phone, and if this step goes well, 2) potentially set up a time to speak with the third party in the future. If you can thoughtfully address these objections and reiterate that you are a resource for your prospect and his or her decision-maker, you’ll be much more likely to make the sale.
Objection 3: Need
Especially for complex products and services, this is a prevalent objection sales representatives will face. You’ll recognize this in the field when someone says something like, “You know, we really don’t need your product or service,” or “Your product is too hard to use … we’ll just stick to our old ways of doing things and get by.” This is probably the hardest objection to handle since it revolves around the product or service you're selling.
How to Handle the Objection
Like in Objection 2, you’ll want to first get to the root of the problem. Do they view your entire product as something worthless, or are there a few features they love? Or, are they just overwhelmed with your product offering? Or, are they just too scared to make a purchase? No matter what their reasoning is, you need to get to the bottom of it before moving forward.
Their responses can vary greatly depending on what you’re selling, but you have two weapons up your sleeve to help address this objection: content and data. If your company is really drinking the inbound Kool-Aid, your marketing team has probably already created blog posts and offers that your prospect might be interested in. Maybe you have case studies of customers who are similar to the prospect -- if so, go ahead and send the case studies over.
If your prospect is especially skeptical, try using some hard data to help convince him or her. Let’s say you’re selling inbound marketing software … for example. ;) If the prospect were concerned that inbound marketing wouldn’t be as effective as outbound marketing, you could pull up some stats from the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report that show that more than half of marketing agencies (51%) reported positive ROI for their inbound marketing efforts in 2013. That data is much more convincing than just “inbound marketing works … just trust me and give me your credit card.”
With this objection especially, it's very possible you may find that prospects might not need your product at all. For example, if their company goals aren't aligned with what your product or service can solve, you should get off the phone. No hurt feelings here -- you just want to focus your time on helping those who are a good fit for your product or service.
Objection 4: Timeframe
Last, but certainly not least, many sales representatives will have prospects procrastinate or put the sales process on hold. They'll say things like, “It’s not the right time to make a decision. Please call me in a month or so once our imminent project/hiring plan/budget/etc. is in place.” The chances of them actually coming back and purchasing something from you? Slim. So how do you handle this non-committal objection?
How to Handle the Objection
Again, this objection can be tricky based on the opportunity's reason for delaying the sales process. How you handle the objection all boils down to his or her reason for delaying -- but you should always remind him or her of the long-term payout from buying your product or service right now.
If the upcoming project your prospect is citing is somehow related to your product, one thing you can emphasize is how much better it would be to purchase your product before the big change. For example, if you were selling inbound marketing software and the prospect was about to undergo an intense website redesign, you might want to emphasize that it would be much better to buy the software before the redesign -- they wouldn’t want to have to re-write content (and potentially rework the design to fit the content) if it wouldn't align with their future inbound marketing goals.
For the future hire objection, you can emphasize that purchasing your product now makes sense because the prospect will be able to enable new hires with all the tools they need from day one.
If the issue is a far-away budget allocation decision, you’ll need to get more information. What’s the process for approving budgets, and who is involved in that process? You may have to switch to handling Objection 2 by addressing the decision-maker’s needs and fears. By getting more information about prospects’ processes, you’ll be able to be much more helpful to them.
Ultimately, knowing how to address these objections could help you close a sale … or just disqualify a lead from being a fit for your company. By handling these objections, you’ll better understand your prospects' needs -- which could help you focus your time on turning the right prospects into a new, excited customers.
Do you have any special techniques for handling objections on your sales calls? Share your tips with us in the comments!