What is objection handling in sales?
Objection handling is simply dealing with any concerns a prospect might have about the product or service you’re selling. These concerns get in the way of you closing the deal. They tend to revolve around price, product fit, need, competitors or they just don’t want to talk to you.
Your response should alleviate these concerns and move the deal forward, that’s all objection handling is.
Through the rest of this post we’re going to go through common objections prospects have and common sales objection handling examples so you have a source to mine for your own prospects:
- Why objection handling matters
- Being calm and not interrupting prospects
- How to deal with a customer with a lot of objections
- Sales objections about price and budget
- Sales objections around your competition
- Sales objections around need
- Use social proof to overcome sales objections
- How to deal with an “i don’t have time” objection
- Make sure you’ve addressed their objection
- Produce a sales objections and responses template
Why objection handling matters?
Being able to handle these objections is critical to winning sales. Think about it, you’re going to send your kid on a ride and you ask is it safe? If they can’t answer that simple question to your satisfaction little Timmy isn’t going on the ride, same thing in sales they’re not going to buy from you if you can’t answer their concerns.
If you ignore them or just barrel on about the key features of whatever you’re selling those objections won’t disappear. They’ll fester and stew in the prospect’s mind so you should not be afraid of them.
In fact, you want to bring them to the fore and deal with them because they will be the factors that decide whether they buy or not.
Objection handling is about selling to them. If you fail here you’ll never get to the sales negotiation – don’t make that mistake by assuming you can negotiate until you’re certain they’ve bought into what you’re selling. This is really important.
Technique 1: Be calm and don’t interrupt prospects with sales objections
You’re at a ten you need to be at a two.
When a sales target has an objection it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person and it doesn’t mean their concern is illegitimate even if they’re factually wrong about something.
Handling objections in sales isn’t just about the substance but about the style too. If you come across as too eager to rebut their objection they’ll think that there’s more to it than there is. They’ll read your body language and the increase in your talking speed – interpreting this as a gotcha.
If you come across as flustered you’ll seem less trustworthy and it’ll build tension. If you just shut up and listen to their whole point, and then calmly and here’s the critical part, slowly respond to their objection in a matter of fact way you’ll deal with it substantively and in style.
There’ll be no build up in tension and you won’t make it seem like a big deal with your speech pattern and body language.
Remember when Mark Zuckerberg went to congress – his body language and speech pattern destroyed him and made him seem shifty and untrustworthy. Before that he was seriously being considered as a future President of the United States, afterwards the idea was laughable.
The most successful sales people stay calm under pressure and take the air out of any tension that could arise. It’s not just the substance of the response but how you do it. You want to reassure and be professional.
Technique 2: How to deal with a customer with a lot of objections
The prospect who wants this and that and the other. He’s machine gunning objections at you and you’re sitting there thinking this is really going south.
Your natural instinct is to save it by trying to respond to every point. Whatever he pitches you’re going to knock it out of the park.
Don’t do that.
You’re going to get into a pointless argument that won’t go anywhere. They’ll keep making demands and bringing up something else that your product is lacking or this feature that they want.
It’ll become a competition and someone has to win. That’s not why you’re there.
So what do you do?
First, let them get it out of their system. Eventually they’re going to run out of steam especially if you’re not engaging them so they don’t have anything to rile them up further, to bounce off of.
Back during the second Punic war. You may not remember this but I’ll remind you. So the Romans are getting their behinds kicked all across Italy by Hannibal. Not that Hannibal, instead the one that crossed the Alps with a bunch of elephants.
Now the Romans are a really aggressive people. They like to win and they don’t like retreating in front of an opponent. They don’t like losing, in fact they really hate it. So they keep sending bigger and bigger armies at Hannibal that get destroyed.
Eventually, a Roman named Fabius says “Hey guys don’t engage Hannibal, that’s what he wants”.
The Romans ignore this guy and get smashed some more
Finally, they go back to Fabius and listen. So they employ his “Fabian strategy” where they avoid decisive battles and slowly by picking and choosing small skirmishes they wear down Hannibal’s army.
You don’t want to fight every objection. Don’t engage, let them wear themselves out and then ask “OK I hear you but which of those are the most important to you, your deal breakers?”.
Everything that they just threw at you is not going to be a deal breaker. By asking this question you can focus your energy on what actually matters and therefore save the call or meeting.
Most of their objections are going to be nice to haves or kind of important but if you can identify the deal breakers and you can meet those deal breakers you’ve still got a deal on your hands.
Ignore the nice to haves. They don’t matter and when you’re done going through the deal breakers ask if you’ve addressed them properly.
If they say yes then fantastic you can move the sale forward if they say no then ask what you’re missing.
By doing this you cut all the unnecessary stuff and you can prioritise on what will actually get you the sale.
It’s easy to get frustrated but it’s your job to keep the conversation focused. If you spent the entire call or meeting arguing over irrelevant details you messed up.
You’re the one who is qualifying the prospect. You’re the one who has to demonstrate that your product is valuable and you can’t do that if you can’t identify what matters and keep the focus on that.
Technique 3: Sales objections about price and budget
Firstly, don’t talk about price if they don’t bring it up until near the end of the sales call because you want them to understand the value of your product first.
If you can impress them with the value of your product the pricing is less of an issue.
That follows onto what to do when they bring up pricing and budget objections.
The key here is to find out what exactly is the problem and that’ll allow you to decide how best to approach it.
So if it’s that they think that it’s too expensive for what you’re offering then you need to pivot the conversation to the value your product provides. If you can quantify the ROI and show how costly it will be in the long run if they don’t buy your product then you can neutralise this objection.
Overcoming pricing objections is not about arguing the pricing but arguing the value. If you can persuade the prospect that your product can solve their problem then pricing becomes less important. So remember it’s the value proposition stupid not pricing.
What if they have budgetary constraints?
If they don’t have the money they don’t have the money – you might just have to disqualify them right?
Not necessarily, if you offer different tiers for your product you can find out what the deal breakers are and offer a lower tier that meets those deal breakers within their budget and win the sale.
Maybe, they don’t have the budget right now but in the next financial year they’ll have a freer hand, there is nothing wrong with delaying until then. You want to provide options that can help them without you giving away the store.
A small note on discounts – don’t give them away like skittles, and don’t do special deals for one customer and then another deal for another customer. Word will get around and customers will get annoyed if they find out someone else got a better deal. If you offer discounts make sure they’re standardised.
But more importantly, don’t give away discounts from the get go. Sometimes you can tell with a prospect who’s trying to get blood out of a stone they’ll be more trouble than they’re worth. We’ve had this with certain RealtimeCRM users in the past when we made this mistake but that’s a judgement call you’ll have to make.
A price objection is not the end of the world. All you have to do is demonstrate the value of your offering, provide some options and don’t panic and give away discounts in the first instance.
Technique 4: Sales objections around your competition
If they’re already with a competitor, don’t panic. In fact it makes your job in some ways easier because clearly they have problems that your product can solve if they’re already using a competitor.
A large chunk of the argument has already been made for you.
But still how do you muscle your competitor out?
Well it depends on what the objection is. We’ll use an example of a customer we won in real life from a competitor who will remain nameless.
But the competitor was a very significant and a large player and they had them tied into a contract.
That seems pretty formidable right?
There was something rotten in the state of Denmark. The prospect had been promised many things by our competitor that didn’t pan out and they had to pay a significant chunk of change for more support.
We went in and we offered them a heavy discount to offset the cost of moving to us. In addition, we don’t charge an arm and a leg extra for support and we didn’t over promise and under deliver.
We weren’t afraid to compare ourselves to our competitor and we were willing to probe the relationship the prospect had with our competitor to find out what the issues in the relationship were, and then explain how we’d better manage those problems for them.
What if they’re happy with their competitor?
Same rules apply, probe and find weaknesses and then explain how your product is better.
Technique 5: Sales objections around need
No one really needed the automobile. Horses were just fine. Genghis Khan conquered the known world on horseback.
You’re going to run into prospects who think they don’t need what you’re offering. They might be right but we verify before we trust.
So how do you do that?
You should know the pain points your solution solves so ask questions to tease out what their pain points are. If they are pains that match up with your offering then spell it out to them.
You want to create a narrative that goes something like this:
Problem – Solution – Payoff
Your product should be couched right in the middle of that.
But let’s say they don’t get your product. Ask them to clarify what part of the product description they don’t understand and rephrase it so it makes sense in their context.
However, sometimes if a prospect doesn’t have a need for your product it means they don’t have a need for it. That sales objection cannot be overcome so you shouldn’t waste any more valuable time on them.
Recall, you’re trying to qualify them as well as sell to them. If they’re not the right fit for you and you recognise that – that’s good because it means you can move onto other prospects who you are more relevant to, and just as importantly are more relevant to you.
Technique 6: Use social proof to overcome sales objections
If you’re on a cold call or sent a cold email they won’t know who you are and your trust capital will be low.
This is why social proof from testimonials of other similar businesses are really important. As soon as you can you should get some.
You can see them on our shop window as soon as you land on the RealtimeCRM website or more in depth case studies like this one. They’re important because they demonstrate that you may be relevant to them as you’re already helping similar businesses.
And if you can bring to the table case studies where you can show cost savings, increased efficiency or boosted ROI it’ll create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). That’s a powerful tool to move a prospect.
Just look at the toilet paper apocalypse during the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s enough toilet paper for everyone but monkey see monkey do and you get panicked hoarding.
That’s the power of the group and social proof on the behavior of the individual.
Technique 7: How to deal with an “i don’t have time” objection
Do not ever barrel into a sales pitch without first getting permission to pitch to the prospect.
If you don’t get permission you are machine gunning yourself in the foot as you’re going to really annoy the prospect.
How do you get permission? Check out our post Cold calling – Using mini upfront contracts to deal with “I don’t have time”.
But what if they say they don’t have time can you send me some more information?
Oftentimes when you get through to a decision maker they don’t want to be influenced by you and want to get you off the phone.
Most of the time you want to avoid conflict so you acquiesce and meekly say OK and give the initiative to the prospect – now you don’t want to fight the person on the other line but neither do you want to just give up, you have no idea if they’ll actually open your email.
So what do you do?
You say “Yes, sure I can”. Then ask for their email.
Now here’s the Jedi mind trick, all you have to do is say “Just so I send the right information to you…” and then just ask the questions you were going to ask anyway. How many people are working at your company at the moment? What’s your budget? And so on.
If you’re a good conversationalist you’ll end up having the call you wanted with the prospect without them realising. Now of course sometimes they’re going to push back “Hey I really don’t have time”.
That’s fine, be polite and friendly and come back with “Look I want to make sure I’m doing my job and sending you the relevant information so I don’t waste your time sending you an irrelevant email, then having to waste my time sending a follow up email and then calling you again to have another 5 minute conversation, that’s why I want to ask you these questions to avoid that”.
You have to judge it but don’t be afraid to push back when the prospect pushes, just remember to be polite and friendly.
Technique 8: Make sure you’ve addressed their objection
Part of the art of objection handling is making sure the prospect feels heard and their concerns addressed.
You might think you’ve done that but only the prospect can confirm this so after you deal with the sales objection all you have to do is ask two simple questions.
Firstly, don’t assume you know what their concern is without confirming it first. You do this by asking this question:
Can you explain that further so I can understand better?
That’s it. Then you just rephrase what they said to confirm your understanding and you can then move onto dealing with the objection.
Once you’ve done that you ask one more question:
What part of your objection remains unaddressed?
This way you can be sure you’ve addressed the prospects concern and hopefully move on. You don’t want it to be left buried to fester and stew in the prospect’s mind.
Technique 9: Produce a sales objections and responses template
As you interact with more and more prospects you should be recording what sales objections come up. What deal breakers got in the way of closing the deal?
You’ll notice common objections appear again and again. That’s normal.
So you should therefore produce a sales objections and responses template. The benefit of this is that every time that same objection rears its ugly head you don’t need to compute the answer again and again leading to awkward pauses.
You’ve got your objection management document and you can calmly respond to the objection.
Now when writing an answer to a common objection you don’t need to write a novel, a couple of lines or bullet points that get the gist of your rebuttal across is all you need.
So if you don’t have one then make one.