Done properly, objection handling is one of the most important processes in the sales cycle, toward the closing steps. After you’ve actually determined and qualified the demand, handling your prospect’s objections allows you to capture all the key issues standing in the way of closure and address them in a way that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
The “wrong” way to handle objections is to try addressing them as they come up, on an ad hoc basis. This can drag out the selling process, and force the salesperson to act more like a yo-yo than a problem solving consultant.
This article explains three actions you need to take to become effective at objection handling and provides examples of how to respond to some of the most common objections.
1) Be an Expert on Your Offerings
According to SAP, 46% of B2B buyers say that one of their biggest frustrations with salespeople is that they lack specific knowledge about how their offering can address unique prospect needs.
To effectively handle your prospects’ objections, you need to be armed with the knowledge to provide precise counter-arguments and accurate answers to all of their questions.
Here are some actions you need to take to be an expert on your offerings:
- Research your prospects’ roles, companies, and industries prior to speaking with them. This will give you an idea of what their priorities are and enable you to highlight features that are relevant to them.
- Meet with your product/service team regularly to discuss use cases and stay up-to-date on the latest features. Your understanding of your company’s offering should be nearly as deep as theirs so that you’re able to answer specific questions that your prospects ask.
- Stay up-to-date with your competitors. Knowing the latest features your competitors are offering is key because it lets you provide more effective answers when prospects ask questions about how you are different.
2) Empathize With Your Prospects’ Objections
It’s tempting to take a defensive stance and try to prove that your prospects’ objections aren’t valid; however, doing so may make your prospects feel like you don’t understand their pain points and cause them to disengage.
Here are some examples:
- If a prospect complains that your product is more expensive than your competitors, say “I understand that getting the best value is extremely important...then explain the additional features that make the cost of your product worthwhile and/or discuss options to lower the price.
- If a prospect argues that your product can’t solve their specific problem, acknowledge that their problem is valid, ask them to elaborate more about it, then walk them through very specific features and/or use cases that meet their needs.
- If a prospect tells you they need to evaluate other options before making a decision, respond that you understand the importance of finding the right vendor to work with is key then explain specific things your company does to provide a great customer experience.
To the extent your prospect feels you are truly working on their behalf, trying to address their specific issues, and delivering the best possible solution, then you are well positioned to win not only the particular sale, but also a long term relationship built on trust and respect.
3) Tailor Your Pitch to Your Prospects’ Pain Points
A survey from NewVoice Media found that 59% of people are annoyed when salespeople give generic pitches. Your prospects are busy people with unique challenges and desires - they don’t have time to listen to you ramble on about features that are irrelevant to them.
To keep prospects engaged in the sales process, you need to show them that your offering is the solution to their pain points.
Here are some questions that can help you identify what they need help with:
- What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
- What are your goals? What’s making it difficult to achieve those goals?
- Have you explored any other options?
- What particular considerations do you have in choosing a potential solutions partner?
Once you know your prospects pain points, describe how your offering solves each of their specific issues. This is the holy grail of getting to a sale. It’s all about ensuring you clearly understand your prospect’s objectives, pain points, internal drivers and dynamics.
On the flip side, you need to be clear and knowledgeable about your own offering, and your ability to address the prospect’s objectives. And never underestimate the value of quickly getting to a “no.”
If your solution is right, guide your prospect down the path of showing this. On the other hand, you will also gain respect (and time) by quickly determining if it’s not the right fit. All too often, salespeople try to be all things to all people which is a recipe for failure.
Here’s How to Respond to the Most Common Objections
Though every prospect will have their own reasons for hesitating to buy, there are some issues that you can expect to address with the majority buyers.
Here are five common objections and how to respond to them:
1) It’s too expensive
It’s estimated that half of deals fail due to pricing objections. However, unless your product is significantly more expensive than the competition, many prospects don’t object to price because they can’t afford it. Instead, they push back because they don’t see enough value in your offering to justify the cost.
How to respond:
When framing a pricing/value conversation, it helps to be prepared with some of your ‘calculators,’ such as an ROI calculator, or look at lowest common denominator costs and then translating price to the cost or value of problem being addressed.
For example, when I sell a business productivity service like a virtual assistant, I try to focus on prospects who value their time highly. With those numbers in mind, we can more easily derive an ROI or break-even for the cost of the service vs. the value of time. When I am selling an enterprise software application, I will focus on the cost of the potential problem my application can address.
Also, always remember to consider the cost of doing nothing. When you can clearly show that “investing” a certain amount up front will reduce costs or deliver a clear ROI, then you’re so much closer to a sale.
2) Now is not a good time to buy
This vague objection can literally mean they want to push back their purchasing decision or it can also be used in place of other issues that the prospect doesn’t want to say.
How to respond:
My favorite response is to ask what the likely ideal timing will be. And then I try to find out what are the key gaps between now and then – and if there’s anything I can do to bridge that gap.
3) I don’t think your product/service is a good fit for my needs
When prospects tell you this, it means their pain points haven’t been fully addressed either because you haven’t touched on key points or your offering is missing something they need.
How to respond:
The key here is to understand the gaps between what you have demonstrated or presented and the prospect’s needs. But if you’ve gotten to this point, then it’s likely too late.
The best way to avoid getting here is to clearly and mutually establish the need, and then work diligently to address each part of the need. If you’ve done the hard work up front, there should be no reason why you’d get to the point where the prospect says it’s not a good fit – unless the requirements have changed, of course.
4) I’m still considering other options
This is the typical objection people give when they like your offering but aren’t wowed enough to buy immediately.
How to respond:
You always want to be confident in your product or service – and encourage your prospects to do their research thoroughly. But you also want to be sure you understand what drivers would prompt your prospects to be looking for alternatives. What ingredient are they missing with your solution? That’s the information you want.
5) I need to speak with my team before making a decision
Many salespeople make the mistake of letting the conversation end when a prospect mentions they’re going to speak with their team. When you do that, you miss out on an opportunity to help them
How to respond:
Ask them if they need any materials to share with their colleagues. Offering slides or info docs gives you another opportunity to impress them and makes it much easier for your prospect to pitch their clients.
Keep in mind that the key to effectively handling objections is showing them specifically how your offering solves their pain points. If you focus on that, you’ll be able to build trust and prove that your product/service is the right choice for them.
In the end, you want objections – and you want them upfront, all at once. When the objections are clearly identified and comprehensively “bucketed,” then you can more easily deal with them. You always want to avoid dealing with objections like a batter in a batting cage, i.e. one at a time. They will just keep coming and it’s a losing game. Get objections fast and upfront. And then make sure there are no other objections standing in the way of a deal.
About the Author: Andrew Miller has more than 20 years of experience in enterprise sales and currently leads Prialto’s business development. He spends much of his time helping individual executives and their teams understand how to leverage Prialto’s assistance.