The question isn't whether your prospect has objections -- it's whether you'll get to hear those objections and if you're capable of resolving them.
Every buyer has at least one major reason not to buy. This reason has been preventing them from pulling the trigger for the last few weeks, months, or even years. Successful salespeople quickly identify, surface, and handle these issues and concerns so they can win the business.
For more tips on handling objections, check out The GSD Sales Show -- tips for salespeople, by salespeople.
We spoke to 12 sales experts to discover how they're overcoming objections in 2017. To boost your objection-handling game, read on.
1. Anthony Iannarino: Change your mindset
Stop looking at objections the way you’ve been taught. Your prospective clients aren’t objecting -- they are trying to express a real concern. You don’t need to ‘overcome’ the objection. You need to look deeper, explore the real concern, and help your prospect resolve it so they can move forward.
2. Joanne Black: Crowd-source your responses
All objections can be anticipated. Common objections are:
- Your price is too high
- We need to meet the team we’ll be working with
- The solution we have now works just fine
- We have other priorities right now
- We need to discuss and get back to you
The sales team should get together and create responses to the common objections they hear. Then someone should role-play the buyer. Reps need to hear themselves responding and receiving feedback from prospects (even hypothetical ones).
The team should also discuss what to do if a buyer doesn’t verbalize an objection but it’s clear from her body language and/or tone of voice that she has one.
3. Bill Caskey: Dig into the buyer's reasoning
Money objections are usually indicative of a larger concern. And by “handling” a money objection, you may not be serving your prospect or yourself in the process.
These show the buyer believes spending this money will make their life economically better.
How can you overcome that belief in a sentence or two? You can’t.
With that in mind, the reaction to the money objection must delve into your prospect’s reasoning.
You must understand how the customer arrived at the conclusion that the cost is “too high” or “not in the budget.” By understanding, you will see if you’ve missed anything in the process, or clarify the set of beliefs that drove the customer to “too high.”
The worse thing you can do in reaction to a money objection is to arm-wrestle. It likely took them months to come to a certain belief about money, which you won’t be able to change in a clever 10-second reaction.
4. Colleen Stanley: Bring up objections before your prospect
Objections often send salespeople into fight-or-flight mode, and the result isn't pretty. Salespeople start overselling, defending and justifying, or discounting in an attempt to keep the prospect's interest. A salesperson’s inability to handle objections costs companies thousands of dollars each year.
So sales managers and CEOs, what can you do?
Teach your sales team to bring up the objections!
Sales and objections are predictable. Conduct a white boarding session with your sales team. Ask them to write down all the objections they hear from prospects and clients. Now, ask your team this powerful question: When would you like to know about these objections? Overwhelmingly, salespeople want to know sooner rather than later. Time to teach your sales team the powerful emotional intelligence skill of reality testing.
Salespeople often are reluctant to bring up the objection. They mistakenly think they will plant a seed of doubt in the prospect's mind. Well, the reality is your prospect already has thought of several reasons not to do business with you, many of which are based on false data or a previous experience with another vendor.
A salesperson that brings up the objections wins credibility and gets to facilitate a dialogue about false perceptions, objections based on previous experiences, or simply fear of change. If you want to win more business, bring up objections. It will set you apart and lead to an honest, productive conversation.
5. Tony Alessandra: Use active listening
Non-manipulative sales people use their listening skills and act as sounding boards for their prospects and clients. A lot can be learned by simply listening. Sometimes, it is appropriate to reflect back what has been said for reconsideration from a different angle. Your ability to clarify an issue will serve you and your client well.
Strategy #1: Convert to a Question
A statement is difficult to respond to. You can, however, convert the statement to a question and answer it. For example, to the statement, “I don’t think I could use that product,” you could respond, “What I hear you wondering is, ‘what benefits are there for me in this product?’” You can then proceed to answer the question, not rebut the statement.
Strategy #2: Reflect and Listen
Listen to your prospect’s voice inflections, observe her body language, and hear her words (to uncover) how she feels. You can then encourage further discussion by reflecting her emotions back to her. This is especially helpful if the prospect’s objection does not give you enough information. She might say, “The price is too high.” Seeing the emotion behind the words, you could say, “You feel frustrated about the price?” The prospect might say, “Sure, I feel frustrated. Have you tried to get a loan lately? How can I do business when money is so tight?” You will then save the day with, “That’s not an insurmountable problem. We have several credit plans you might find attractive.”
6. Mike Brooks: Isolate the objection
A recent client of mine was complaining that her inside sales team wasn't closing enough demos because their reps were getting the objection, "I need to talk to my partner first." She wondered aloud what they could do to overcome this common stall.
I listened to the team's recordings and found they were handling this objection incorrectly. They were buying into it by responding: "When should I get back with you?"
I taught my client the better approach: Isolate the objection by saying, "That's fine, and let me ask you. If your partner says, 'Do whatever you feel is best,' then based on what we've gone over, and what you understand about this, what would you tend to do?"
Any answer other than '"I'd do it" means the objection is a smokescreen -- and calling them back won't advance the sale. Instead, you must uncover the real objection.
7. Deb Calvert: Don't fear price objections
I'm not afraid of price "objections" and am actually happy when I hear them. Questions and comments about price are an indication of interest. After all, no one asks for a lower price or runs a price comparison unless they're interested.
Instead of reflexively responding, consider the buyer's desire for your product and the value of your product. Talk about price just as you would any other feature of the product. Defend your price by showcasing your value. Link the price to the value rather than discussing it in isolation.
Throughout the conversation, continually remind yourself that you're talking to a hot prospect who has expressed interest.
Buyer: That's not something we've budgeted for.
Seller (responding to buyer interest): The urgency you described suggests you'll be working outside your budget, rather than letting this problem get worse and worse until the new budget year.
Buyer: We'll have to do something.
Seller: Let's talk about the money you'll be saving once you solve this problem ...
8. John Barrows: Split-test your responses
As sales evolves and technology improves, I believe sales reps need to be more scientific than artistic to survive.
One of the ways to do this is to A/B test everything you do, specifically when it comes to objection handling.
Choose an objection you get regularly and develop two different approaches to handling it. (Here are some examples of different objection handling techniques to use.)
The next 10 times that objection comes up, use the first approach. The next 10 times, use the second approach. Track your results to see which approach yields a better response.
Once you’ve found an approach that works, pick another common objection and repeat the process.
9. Matt Heinz: Flip the script
My favorite objection-handling strategy is the walk-back. It’s a jiu jitsu move you can use when prospects ask a question or make an assertion that implies they’re shopping around, questioning your price, or sharing other feedback that might make the seller defensive. For example, let’s say a prospect tells you they are shopping around for solutions and aren’t yet sure if yours is best for them.
Many salespeople would get defensive at this point, try to justify their product’s superiority, and so on.
The walk-back, however, goes something like this:
“That’s a great idea, because our solution certainly isn’t for everybody. And I’m not sure I know enough yet about your business objectives and needs to even recommend our solution over others … ”
From there, you can talk about the attributes of companies that are a good fit for your solution or dig deeper with the prospect on their needs, objectives, goals to connect those directly with what your solution can do.
10. Bernadette McClelland: Eliminate objections early on
The term objection means 'the action of challenging or disagreeing with something.’ This can be a flippant comment in a conversation amongst friends or a formal protest during a court trial. In the sales field, it means the customer doesn't want to buy or go to the next logical step. In many cases, the customer throws excuses that the salesperson too quickly catches.
All three examples have differing levels of intensity and conjure up pictures of tension, winner and loser, and a sense of push.
If we do a couple of things differently early in the conversation, we eliminate virtually any need for a prospect to object to our next steps, our ideas, or even our partnership moving forward. In other words, we:
- Frame the reasons for the conversation with relevance
- Ask relevant questions with such depth and breadth we understand their business intimately enough to anticipate and proactively resolve their objection
- Split-test our solution with them to see where it might work and might not
- Remove any emotional attachment to getting the deal
Practice these strategies, and you won't hear objection sustained -- but objection overruled.
11. Tony Hughes: Gain credibility first
Difficulty in closing is almost always a symptom of not managing the sale properly.
Closing must be earned. Objections are usually evidence the seller has made mistakes by pushing to close before they’ve established trust and value and learned enough about the customer’s timing, priorities, and processes.
12. Barbara Giamanco: Don't make the buyer defensive
A common sales objection is that the product we buy from our current vendor “works just fine.”
What you don’t want to do is to pitch how your product is so much better, or challenge them in a way that makes them feel like you are questioning their decision making ability.
If that happens, the buyer will only dig in their heels and defend their buying decision. A better approach is to ask the buyer what they like about the current product and vendor.
They may mention a few things they like, but inevitably they will tell you all the problems that the product doesn’t solve or issues that it causes in the organization.
When that happens, you then have the opportunity to present a case for how you and your product can remedy those challenges.
For example, suppose the buyer says when they have an issue it can take days to get a response.
You might respond, “We assign a dedicated account manager to your team who will respond within X number of hours when alerted to a problem.”
Be sure that you don’t promise something that your company cannot deliver. Focus on how you can solve their problems, which will open the door to closing the deal.