As sales professionals, we duck and weave through the gauntlet of questions and concerns that arise when delivering a sales pitch.
Many are completely legitimate and expected -- questions about the features and benefits of our products, the price, and the terms of sale. Sometimes, these questions come across as objections -- sticking points that need to be resolved before the prospect will commit to buy.
Most salespeople dread objections. But, these are a good thing!
When a prospect is voicing objections, it usually means they’re engaged and simply need a little convincing to sign on the dotted line. After all, an objecting buyer is a serious buyer -- someone with a need seeking a solution.
However, we sometimes encounter curveball questions and statements that seem to betray the sole intention of shutting down the conversation; either overtly; e.g., “we don’t have the budget right now,” or delaying tactics such as “I’ll have to discuss this with my team.”
How can we differentiate an objection from an excuse and utilize each to guide the conversation in our favor?
The Two Show-Stopping Objections
Ultimately, regardless of the intentions of the prospect, there are only two objections that can completely shut down a negotiation:
Financial objection: No chance of affordability, even at the lowest possible price
Need-based objection: No need or desire for your products or services
Unfortunately, there’s little you can do when these arise.
For everything else, there’s a workaround.
Dealing with Legitimate Objections
Apart from these two, you should consider every other kind of objection to be supremely useful. They reveal to you precisely the barriers you need to overcome in order to make the sale.
Think about it. Our sales pitches are designed to convince, so in crafting them we make guesses about what our prospect’s objections are likely to be. In the absence of any other information, all we have is idle hope that our guesses accurately depict the reality.
So how do you deal with an objection? First up, don’t panic!
Which would you rather do: Scramble for an impromptu (and likely inadequate) answer, or succinctly and persuasively address every issue?
The keys to handling objections effectively are preparation and being proactive.
Since you’ve probably heard every objection countless times, why not work the answers to the most common complaints into your pitch? Try to anticipate and address them before they even pop into your prospect’s head.
Dealing with Excuses
It’s natural for people to instinctively sidestep a sales pitch with a quick excuse. Sometimes these excuses reflect real circumstances, but often they're just an attempt to make a polite exit.
While “I’m too busy right now to discuss this” is usually not true, it’s in good character to give prospects the benefit of the doubt.
The way to deal with excuses is simple. At every point of the negotiation you should be always be closing something.
If either the “busy” or "need to discuss this further" objection is raised, inquire whether they have any questions that can be answered now and try to get a commitment on a more suitable time to talk. You can consider any agreement that perpetuates the interaction a win.
Objections Are Your Best Friend
The way to go is to always maintain a professional, friendly attitude. The point isn’t to bluntly negate objections, but rather to use them as a tool to create new points of agreement by adopting an open-minded attitude of discovery.
Remember: Objections are informative, not offensive.
Ultimately, it’s not a matter of differentiating fact from fantasy. Almost every voiced objection is an opportunity to break down the barriers to the sale. The perfect salesperson won’t run out of ideas and won’t be swayed by any objection apart from the two showstoppers!
How prepared are you? Have you catalogued and rehearsed the best responses to the common objections and excuses you encounter? If you’re working in a team, brainstorm, share, and make objection- and excuse-handling a part of your sales culture. Armed with every answer, you’ll be unstoppable.
Originally published Jul 13, 2015 7:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017