Every sales rep knows this feeling. You’re on the phone with a prospect, and things seem to be going well. You’ve confirmed they’re the decision maker, they’ve discussed their pain points in depth, and as you explain how your product and/or service can help them overcome their challenges, they seem to be actively engaged.
And then they hit you with:
- “It’s too expensive”
- “Just send me the info over”
- “Now’s not the right time”
- “We’re already tied into another contract”
- “I need to get a few more quotes”
These are some common sales objections that sales reps face.
A sales objection is when a buyer expresses an obstacle that needs to be overcome before they'll make a purchase. Sales reps can help eliminate these barriers in most cases—as long as they’re prepared.
Here’s four ways to effectively respond to sales objections:
1. Listen to the customer’s objection
When you’ve heard the same sales objections time and time again, it can be easy to tune out.
However, it’s vital to actually listen to the customer’s objection.
Sure, it might be the same objection as your previous customer and the one before that, but every prospect will have individual reasons for putting forth their objection.
For instance, if your prospect says “Now’s not the right time,” this could mean a few things, such as:
- They simply don’t have the time to deal with the sales process
- They’re currently tied into another contract
- They don’t have time to take the call right now
- Company cash flow is tight
- The company is undergoing changes
Some of these reasons could be easily overcome by the sales rep, while others are tougher to get around. This is why it’s so important to listen and take in the information the customer is giving you.
Of course, the customer also wants to feel as if they’re being listened to. Prove that they are by demonstrating your understanding of their objection.
Acknowledge their objection and show that you believe in the validity of their concern. Avoid interrupting them or attempting to convince them that the issue is no big deal in order to move forward with the sales process.
Furthermore, resist the temptation to jump in and respond to an objection as soon as you encounter it—this is a sign that you’re not really listening.
Instead, show genuine concern regarding the issue they’ve raised in order to build trust, and you’ll be one step closer to solving the problem and making your sale.
2. Understand their concerns
Similarly, when a customer comes to you with a sales objection, don’t just leap in with your prepared list of questions.
Instead, acknowledge what they’ve said and clarify the objection in order to understand the underlying issue and get some useful context as to whether the problem can be solved, and if so, how.
This is key to helping you address the actual concern on your customer’s mind.
It’s essential to talk about the issues themselves to discover what's behind their sales objection. So, before running ahead with the sales discovery questions you’ve lined up for the call, ask clarifying questions.
A popular technique is to ask a question that is direct and phrased in order to elicit further information.
Here’s an example:
Prospect: “Your price is too high”
Sales professional: “Thanks for sharing that. How too high are we?” or “You’re right; we're more expensive than most. How much were you hoping to pay?” or “I appreciate your honesty. Is our price a deal breaker?”
This demonstrates you’re listening to and acknowledging the customer’s concerns while also encouraging them to give you more information.
From their answer, the sales rep should be able to tell how much the prospect was expecting to pay, and deduce whether a discount or compromise could be the answer to this particular sales objection.
This is going to be much more effective than becoming defensive or trying to prove them wrong.
3. Address objections and find solutions
Once you’ve clarified the objection, you can address the concern by responding to the underlying issues you’ve uncovered.
Are you sure that you have a solid idea of the reasons behind the objection? If so, it’s time to put your thinking cap on and formulate a solution.
For instance, say a customer is concerned that the product doesn’t have as many features as a rival product.
The sales rep in this situation could show their prospect how existing customers find creative work-arounds for the product in order to mimic those extra features.
Don’t be afraid to use the people and resources at your disposal in order to formulate a tailored solution to the obstacle in front of you. After all, being flexible with customers in order to make a sale is one of the key sales skills for sales reps to master.
If necessary, take the concern to the respective departments.
Here’s an example:
Your customer has been happily using a free trial of your product, but they’re refusing to convert because of a programming glitch. Here you should speak with your development team to get it fixed.
Not only will this encourage the customer to convert, but it will also prevent this same objection from coming up again, and generally boost the quality of your product.
Look at this 5-star review from Barney! We love hearing stories from our small business customers who are able to revolutionize their business using Keap. pic.twitter.com/fzuXD3eYir— Keap (@KeapGrowing) July 12, 2020
4. Define the solution
At this point, you’ve responded to your prospect’s sales objections and satisfied all of their concerns.
Well done—despite their initial hesitation, they’re still interested!
But now it’s up to you to define the solution.
In most cases, there will be a few potential solutions on the table. You can demonstrate excellent customer service here by simply taking your lead through each solution and handing control to them. With which solution would they be happiest?
This shows that you’ve put time and effort into continuing your relationship with your prospect, and that you’re striving to help them solve their pain points through the use of your product and/or service.
So the first thing to do is to clearly communicate all relevant, actionable solutions.
Take the customer through the pros and cons of each one, as well as the process you’d have to follow in order to execute each solution.
Ask the buyer if they're happy with your solution(s). There may be further stumbling blocks here, but if so, simply go into more depth around whichever solution they’re interested in. Answer any and all questions—and be honest.
Finally, if the prospect is still not happy and is clearly not ready to make a purchase, don’t try to force a commitment. Sure this could lead to a quick sale, but it may deter them from working with you or your company again.
Remember, as much as you might want to take on every sales objection alone, this isn’t feasible. Coming up with workable solutions —and pre-empting similar future issues—requires feedback from customers. In this situation, the customer is your best asset so make sure you treat them like one.
It can be disheartening when you’re met with sales objection after sales objection from leads you believed were qualified. But hey, no one said sales was easy. Overcoming sales objections is part of the job, and striving toward this goal will help you to improve your sales skills.
You won’t be able to do it every time, and at first, trying to overcome what feels like a "hard no" can be daunting.
However, the more you prepare and the more you practice, the higher your success rate is going to be when it comes to responding to sales objections in a way that leads to a sale.
About the author
Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures and co-founder of Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.