Estimated Read Time: 26 Minutes
We’ve all had it happen - the dreaded sales objection.
But they’re a standard part of the job and bound to happen.
That’s why we’ve put together a guide to handling sales objections. You’ve got to respond in a way that alleviates those concerns or uncertainty to allow the deal/project to move forward.
The Four Most Common Types of Objections
According to SalesHacker, objections tend to fall in to four categories.1. Lack of need. There may be times that there is nothing you can do to help the prospects. However, if the prospect is the right fit (hits your targeting criteria and is qualified), then they likely don’t see the value that you have to offer. You’re likely not resonating, understanding their needs, exploring all possible needs, or addressing the right need.
2. Lack of urgency. Often, when urgency is an issue, they have other priorities that are trumping your project.
3. Lack of trust. If there is uncertainty towards your company, you, your solution, or your products, you need to address immediately because they don’t believe that you can achieve or deliver what you claim you will.
4. Lack of money. The most common objection. Sometimes pricing objections can be a disguise for something else, so be sure to get to the heart of the matter.
You must identify which objection category objections fall into as they arise so you can respond efficiently.
A Simple Process: 4 Steps to Overcome Objections
We will go more in-depth on particular objections, but to respectfully handle an objection, try following this simple process.1. Listen. When you first hear an objection, the first thing you want to do is respond. However, you must fight this instinct. If you immediately address the objection and move forward, you’re leaving hidden and un-voiced objections lingering beneath the surface issue.
Instead, ask the prospect, “What else?” Get to the heart of their concerns. And be sure to give them room to speak. Listening – active listening – is a vital skill here. And it’s ok if the room gets quiet as they ponder the question.
You might find that the first objection was not the real issue at all.2. Understand. You must seek to understand the objection and where they are coming from. If you followed the first step, you know that many objections hide underlying issues.
This is where “why” questions come into play. Why is that? Why do you think that? What caused you to have that concern? Why is that important? Why are you looking for that particular feature?3. Respond. After talking with your prospect, uncovering their concerns and understanding them, now you can address the objections. Be honest. If possible, work to resolve the issue immediately. But if the objection is something you need to look into, let them know. Be clear about the next steps you will take to get the information and when you’ll get back with them.
There’s no point letting an objection be out there longer than necessary and be sure not to leave any objection left unaddressed.4. Confirm. Many skip this final step. Try to gain commitment from the prospect on the “resolution.” Ask if they are satisfied with your answer – you can’t assume that they are.
Ask if there are any other concerns or if they have questions. You can’t proceed until the concerns are addressed properly. Sometimes the answer might require another touchpoint/meeting to fully address because there’s no immediate answer or might require a special process.
A simple, yet powerful process when dealing with sales objections. However, if you follow these steps, you won’t fall into the common pitfall of rushing to overcome sales objections too quickly (and not only putting the prospect on the defensive but could be a complete turn-off). Instead, you need to earn their trust and listen to their true needs before dispelling their concerns.
16 Common Sales Objections and How to Handle Them
1. It’s too expensive.
We all know that this is one of the most common sales objections you’ll get. And sometimes the budget cannot handle the cost.
However, for those other times, you have options on how to handle this.
A. Stop and listen. Let your prospect object. Let them voice their concerns (and please actually listen). Then, ask follow-up questions that help summarize their objection. Talk through it with them.
B. Best combined with the first response, you should emphasize the product’s value. And avoid discussing price right away. Instead, ask your prospect what it would cost them if they did nothing. Help them consider the bigger picture for their business and bottom line.
C. If the price is hard to swallow, here’s an idea from Dave’s 21 Insider Tips blog. Try updating your budget. Let’s say your awards program is budgeted at $50 per award, and many of your recipients repeat as winners from year-to-year. We understand that $50 doesn’t buy much, and you’re asking recipients to line ‘em up each year – something they’re not likely to do.
Therefore, shuffle the dollars. Look at the $50 per unit cost as a $250 per capita 5-year budget. Then spend $150 on the initial-year award, and $25 each on an update element to add to the award for subsequent years. (And notice he mentioned $25 for each update, not a $3 metal “tab” – that’s stopping short of doing it right and leaving your recipients feeling short-changed.)
D. Help justify the cost. Try breaking down the total cost into smaller amounts/services so your client can see why the price point is what it is. And don’t forget to focus/point out the unique value you bring.
E. Per Jeffrey Fox’s How to Become a Rainmaker (which I highly recommend if you haven’t read it yet), you should always dollarize the benefits of your product. All too often, we don’t help the buyer understand exactly how our product will help their business, especially in dollars. So, Jeffrey Fox recommends dollarizing by pairing the prospect’s/buyer’s ROI with their own products and dollarizing the financial consequences of passing up on their product.
Not sure how to do this? In regards to an awards program, consider using stats and calculating the cost of employee disengagement for the company, or whatever fits for the goals of the (recognition) program.
2. There’s no money, we don’t have the budget, or we don’t have any budget left this year.
As mentioned before, there’s always the possibility that your prospect’s business simply doesn’t have the money or have enough cash flow right now to afford your product (or one like yours). You can ask additional questions to understand – when do they typically set and spend the designated budget, what’s typically the budget, is there seasonality to their budget, and so on.
You can say that you understand but would like to follow up in X time (based on what they said when they will have a budget again).
It also doesn’t hurt to track their growth in the meantime and watch for how you can help your prospect get into a place where your offerings can fit their business.
3. We don’t have that pain.
This is where it’s essential to prospect and research properly.
If you know that this prospect is in your “sweet spot,” then there are a few ways to respond.
You won’t know if they are suffering from that pain or not, until you figure out their ideal situation and diagnose how far they are from it. Thus, ask: “What are your goals in relation to (business area)?” or “What does success look like in (business area)?”
After asking what success looks like, ask about the flipside – “What does failure look like in (business area)?” This provides insight into their worst-case scenario so you have a reference point of exactly what they’re afraid of, and whether it’s something your product/project can help prevent.
Once you have a firm understanding on both sides of the scale, you can ask, “As of today, would you say you’re closer to success or failure in (business area)?” This can drive a point home, especially if your prospect is closer to the failure side.
Never forget, a vital tool in your arsenal is silence. If you aren’t comfortable with “dead air,” then you better soon. Since most people don’t like silence, you’ll find they’ll typically start talking more to fill the void. Allowing you to judge if they really don’t need your service/product offerings or if they’re just using it as an excuse.
Additional questions to ask according to Predictable Revenue:
- What does your boss obsess about?
- What strategies are your using to reach your (business goal)?
- How are things right now?
- What’s your biggest hairball?
- What are you hoping to get out of today’s conversation?
- Why did you agree to take this meeting?
- We’ve found that companies similar to you experience (specific problem), which prevents them from achieving (business goal). Does that sound familiar?
- From (social media post), you/ a colleague/ company leader referenced (relevant event or recognition). Was there a specific event that spurred that post? Tell me more about this event/recognition program.
4. Fear of change.
Fear of change can be due to complacency or fear.
When complacency is the culprit, you can to bring some urgency (some people prefer fear) into the conversation. Try sharing some research about the competition and some of the changes they have made in their businesses. There is often nothing like a look at everything their competitors are doing that they are not yet to move them to action.
If it’s due to fear, then the decision-making process will be difficult. You must overcome those fears. One way is to demonstrate past examples of change and how it was positive. This is where case studies and other examples will be a benefit.
5. You don’t understand my business.
Since many sales people walk in without doing their due diligence, we’ve written a few blogs…
- Stop Selling
- Getting into the DNA of a Brand
- 7 Promo Product Selling Tips
- 14 Soft Skills Required for a Great Sales Leader
- Building Client Relationships
- Like an Agency
- Stop, Collaborate and Listen
It’s about understanding their business, doing your research, and listening – especially before you start selling. You can ask them what you don’t grasp – ask them to help you understand. However, if you do, you must listen carefully and be genuine. Show interest, and don’t just go through the motions.
Furthermore, if you sell to a specific industry (or niche) chances are you do know a bit about your prospect's business. Let them know that you have experience working with similar companies and have solved similar problems in the past. In addition, if you did your research, mention information that shows that you understand their unique positioning in the market and what makes their company different.
6. We only work with people we know.
If it’s just because they’ve never heard of your company, then you can treat this objection as a request for information. Don’t provide an elevator pitch but provide a quick summary of your value proposition.
However, this objection could mean something else – and you have to utilize your EQ skills and judge which version they’re meaning.
Especially since personal and business politics often get in the way of closing sales deals. It’s not uncommon for customers to want to work with a vendor they’ve worked with for years, even if that vendor isn’t offering the best services or prices.
In other cases, they feel obligated to work with a friend of a friend or their boss’s cousin’s stepmother — that’s common in this business and you likely depend on this from your own clients.
Mr. Inside Sales recommends responding along these lines: “Because things have changed a lot since you’ve been working with (him/her), I’d suggest you at least be prudent and learn about what the current market has to offer you. Who knows? You may find that there’s an even easier/better option available to you and you can let them know about it!” From there, you can set an appointment to chat.
However, even if you don’t want to go that route, try getting more information about their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the person they’re working with to get a clear picture of what’s going on. Look for holes in their current service or offerings (as suggested in this blog). This may be an opportunity to pitch them a variation of offerings that can complement the services they’re already receiving or fill in other gaps that they have.
7. Just leave me your information.
This is often a “shrug off” for salespeople. It’s the classic “Don’t call me, I’ll call you” scenario that we all know.
But there is a way around this. Raml blog suggests saying along the lines of, “I wouldn’t expect you to be interested yet until I tell you how it can (impact your bottom line/increase your quotas/ help with your employee engagement and retention/save you money/land you more clients/ increase X.”
HubSpot offers a different take, they suggest different responses based on when the prospect states the objection.
- If before you have the chance to deliver your value and what you can do for them, it’s a clear “brush-off.” Try something along the lines of: “Can we take 30 seconds now for me to explain what we do, and then decide if it’s worth a follow-up?”
- If it comes after you delivered your value proposition and discussed who you are and what you do, but before you have the chance to ask qualification questions, there may be interest, but the prospect isn’t willing to talk about it further. Try asking: “Can I ask you a couple questions now to better understand how we may help?”
- Finally, if it came at the end of your conversation, after you went through your value proposition and qualification questions, the prospect may have decided this isn’t valuable to them somewhere along the way. Try saying: “Typically, people find it more valuable to see how this works after a demo/example/etc.”
However, no matter when this objection appears, you must take the time to ask and listen – ultimately uncovering what’s really going on. Is it that they don’t yet understand your value? Are they not ready to buy? Is it something else? Discover the why and why not.
8. I’m not ready to decide.
Even though your product’s benefits or services are amazing, at the end of the day, your prospects need a compelling reason to close the deal – or they’ll sit forever deciding and letting the deal go cold.
Sometimes they need a sense or urgency (maybe an impending deadline) or a bigger incentive that’s hard to say no to. And we’re not talking about hard sells like “This is the last time we’ll be able to extend this offer and we need an answer now.” Hard sells are rated as the least effective, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Instead, ask what’s holding them back. Why the reservations?
Or try a soft sell with a sense of urgency.
9. I can get a cheaper version of "X" somewhere else.
If you have ever read any of our blogs, then you know that we don’t believe in selling based on price or fast turnaround times. We believe in setting yourself apart and providing more value than those racing to the bottom with price.
One way to overcome this objection is to show that cheap isn’t always the best solution – especially for their budget and ROI.
This is where being a salesperson comes out – cheaper does not always mean better, right?
Another way is to take advantage of the comparison. What are the points of differentiation that provide your prospect the most value? Play them up and emphasize overall worth, not cost.
10. "X" problem isn’t important right now.
“Oh?” This simple question sometimes is enough to get your prospect to start talking.
Be sure to listen closely for real reasons why your project has low priority – not just excuses.
If you’re getting more excuses than logical reasons, then that could be a sign that your prospect does know that they have a problem and they’re just trying to rationalize their inaction. You can capitalize on this and instill a sense of urgency.
11. I can’t sell this internally.
If your prospect doesn’t have the sway or ability to sell this internally, remember that you can.
You’re a salesperson and you sell this every day.
So, work with your prospect to get insights, such as what objections they anticipate and help them prepare a plan for selling it (if you can’t do it for them). Have your prospect introduce you to the decision-maker and work with your prospect to be your internal advocate- it’s always great to have someone on the inside on your side.
12. You don’t understand my challenges. I need help with "X," not "Y."
If you’re getting this objection, then are you truly listening to your prospect? Because they’re feeling that they’re not being heard.
It’s imperative that your prospects feel that you’re listening to them and taking their best interest to heart. Try restating your impression on their situation and their goals. Then, align with your prospect’s take and move on from there. It might take asking a few more questions and be sure to listen more than talk.
Many misunderstandings and hard feeling can be resolved simply by listening and rephrasing your prospect’s words.
13. I don’t see the potential for ROI.
If you can’t show ROI, then your current customers won’t stay with you long and your prospects will be hesitant to work with you. That’s why we wrote a blog about tracking ROI for promo campaigns.
So, consider doing one of these two things (or both).
- Put together a plan on how to track the ROI of the campaign or program. This holds everyone accountable, as well as allows for changes and potential for growth.
- You may have to prepare a formal pitch for either your prospect or his/her manager, either using internal numbers provided by your contact or customer case studies (suppliers can sometimes assist with this). Answering with hard numbers (and a little storytelling) may be the answer.
14. It’s just a fad.
Fidget spinners and fanny packs are a fad – and ones that tend to cycle through just like anything else in the promo or fashion industries.
However, it’s also a good time to pull out testimonials or case studies you have to prove your ROI. If you’re breaking new ground here, you may have to show that what you’re proposing works.
15. Our company is too big.
This objection is rooted in lack of trust to handle the volume and not having a clear understanding in your capabilities or processes.
When you partner with companies like Bruce Fox, who can provide a wide variety of services, including local and global fulfillment, as well as company webstores; you can show that you can handle those larger volumes. Discuss the processes, offer those add-ons, and go more in-depth on what you can offer to help meet their unique needs.
16. The timing isn’t right, call me back next quarter, or I’m too busy right now so call me back in 6 months.
Whether your prospect is too busy or if you caught them at the wrong time of the year, chances are that will still be busy in 6 months or next quarter.
However, that’s where asking questions comes back into play. You need to find out if their business or industry are on a specific calendar – like the insurance industry in how they recognize their employees.
However, that’s rarely the case. It’s usually a vague brush-off in hopes that you’ll disappear.
Now, The Balance Small Business suggests listing off all the benefits of working with you, outline the value of products and services you offer, and explain how easy it is to get started. They say to make the decision to hire you a no-brainer.
But I find that too be too pushy and a turn-off. We’ve all had phone calls like this and have found them annoying, right?
So, instead ask, “What’s going to change next quarter?” Question their motivations for brushing you off and see if you can discover how you can assist them in the future.
We all know that as salespeople, objections are part of the game. However, rather than seeing them as roadblocks, recognize them as the opportunities they are. That’s why we created this guide to some of the most common sales objections we see.
What are your top responses to these objections? Tell us in the comments!
Kristina Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, or spending time with loved ones.