3 Huge Objection Handling Mistakes Costing Salespeople Deals

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Jeff Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman


To be a top-performing salesperson, you must master the art of answering objections. Without this skill, the number of deals you close will be dramatically lower -- it’s like only being able to pick the lowest fruits from the tree when you could get a ladder and pick all of them.

Some reps attempt to get better through sheer practice. However, this strategy doesn’t always work: If you’re using the wrong approach, simply repeating it will actually make matters worse.

I’ve observed three major mistakes salespeople make when they handle objections. Avoid these errors if you want to close more business.

1) Holding the Wrong View of Objections

You can dramatically improve your responses by reframing how you think about objections. Some salespeople view objections as an invitation to play tennis. They think they’ll win the game by tossing off a clever answer and therefore quickly putting the ball back in the customer’s court.

Meanwhile, some reps are scared of objections. Every time their prospects voice reservations, these salespeople feel like they’re getting further from the finish line.

Not only are these viewpoints inaccurate, they also make it harder to resolve objections.

Objections are normal, healthy elements of the sales process. In fact, I’d argue they’re essential to winning your prospect’s business. You’re driving the majority of the sales process: Doing discovery, giving a presentation or demo, arranging a trial, and so on. The only time the customer gets to drive is when they speak up with an objection. It’s a great opportunity to give them some control and make them feel empowered. They’ll feel like your peer rather than a passive recipient of information.

Consider this as well: Prospects have objections whether or not they say them out loud. Getting to hear them is a good thing -- it gives you a chance to neutralize their fears or worries.

2) Walking Into Trap Objections

Reps fall for “trap” objections all the time. A “trap” objection comes from an internal blocker who is looking for reasons their company shouldn’t purchase your product.

These sound like casual, easy questions, so salespeople typically answer them quickly and move on -- with the false assumption they’ve handled it appropriately.

Suppose you get a question that touches on a weakness or missing feature of your product. You give a roundabout answer. Here’s an example:

Stakeholder: “Are you compatible with the latest version of Scaler?”

Rep: “We currently support 90%. Scaler will be fully supported in our next release, which will be live in six months.”

Stakeholder: “Great, thanks.”

As soon as you leave, they’ll turn to their colleagues and say, “I told you, their offering won’t be ready for six months!”

You’ve just given the blocker ammunition.

Next time you get an objection like this, consider where it’s coming from. If it’s from a naysayer or the champion of the competition, delve into their reasons for asking instead of responding immediately:

Stakeholder: “Are you compatible with the latest version of Scaler?”

Rep: “Yes, why do you ask?”

Stakeholder: “It’s crucial your current version is fully compatible, since we need it right away.”

Rep: “Can you give me some context on your needs, so I can tell you what we can and can’t do?”

Stakeholder: “Well, we need X, Y, and Z … ”

Rep: “X, Y, and Z are available in our latest version.”

Taking this approach forces the stakeholder to reveal what they’re really asking and helps you avoid getting burned.

3) Spend Less Time on Threats from Your Competition

This might sound counterintuitive: When your prospect voices an objection based on information from a colleague or competitor, don’t defend yourself or give data. Instead, give a brief answer and move on.

Not only will your confidence reassure the buyer, it’ll also make the claim feel less believable. Dwelling on the objection actually reinforces and validates it.

To illustrate, here’s a hypothetical conversation:

Prospect: “I understand you have some quality issues.”

Rep: “Where did you get that knowledge?”

Prospect: “Competitor X mentioned 3% of your shipments have defects.”

Rep: “That’s incorrect.”

You never want to fight a battle you didn’t plan. If the customer wants to pursue this topic, they will -- but 99% of the time, they’ll be satisfied.

On the other hand, if their objection stems from their own observation, you’ll need to patiently and methodically resolve it. Quickly shutting the objection down will implicitly attack your prospect’s analytical and reasoning skills, which for obvious reasons you don’t want to do.

Here’s how you’d respond in this scenario:

Prospect: “I understand you have some quality issues.”

Rep: “Where did you get that knowledge?”

Prospect: “I remember reading 3% of your shipments have defects.”

Rep: “I see. Our defect rate is actually 0.02% -- I have our latest quality report and can send it to you if you’d like to take a look. Is quality one of your main priorities?”

Salespeople commonly have this ratio flipped: They’ll spend a lot of time answering attacks from their competitors and far less time delving into the prospect’s concerns.

Once you take the opposite tack, you’ll see far more success.

Strengthening your objections strategy will pay major dividends. Not only will you pinpoint and resolve minor concerns before they become full-blown issues, but you’ll empower your prospect, solidify your position as a trusted advisor, and win against the competition.

Topics: Sales Closing

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