There is nothing more devastating to a sales rep than an unexpected objection. Whether a prospect is telling you your products and services are too expensive, or the timing isn’t right, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter some kind of objection in nearly every deal. In this article, we’ll explore overcoming objections to learn how to steer the conversation forward and keep the deal moving toward closing.
What Is a Sales Objection?
A sales objection is a reason provided by a prospective customer for not being ready to move forward toward a buying decision. Objections are not always well founded and often mask other prospective customer concerns due to a lack of understanding of how you can make their lives easier and maybe even help them save money. Overcoming objections in sales is a key skill for any high-performing salesperson, allowing them to prevent opportunities that are a good fit from being lost.
In my past experience as a salesperson, most customers have objections, and when they occur early in the sales process, they are often just masked as ways to get you off the phone. If you don’t learn how to separate real objections from impulse excuses, you’ll miss out on many potential deals. Don’t give up too early—the best sales leaders use active listening and dig deeper to discover the actual reluctance of each prospect.
The main tenets of active listening include:
- Being attentive
- Asking open-ended questions
- Asking probing questions
- Requesting clarification
- Suspending judgement and advice
- Being attuned to the prospect’s feelings
- Summarizing the conversation at the end and clarifying next steps
Here are the nine most common sales objections and the best ways to overcome them:
Objection #1: Too Expensive
Example: “Your solution is too expensive for our business.”
Response: “Let me share with you a case study that will help to demonstrate how the value of our solution outweighs the cost.”
If your prospective customer believes your solution is too expensive, it’s most likely because they do not understand its full value to their business. As a salesperson, I always knew that if the customer didn’t flinch at the price, then I did a good job building value. If not, there are knowledge gaps to be filled that help the prospect understand the value.
If this is the case, you need to work with them to understand how they could adopt your product to either improve their efficiency and save money, or improve their effectiveness and drive profits. The goal is to demonstrate how the cost of your solution is outweighed by cost savings or increased revenue earning potential. An effective method of doing this is by example, which is why creating case studies are useful to have ready to share as part of your sales process.
If you know that your solution is often considered expensive until its value is fully appreciated, it may be better to delay discussing price until you have first ensured that the customer has a full grasp of the value of your solution.
Objection #2: Not a Priority
Example: “Your solution is not a priority for our business at this time.”
Response: “I’m clearly off-track here, could you help me out? What is the key priority or priorities for your business?”
The first thing to check is whether you really understand your target customer’s challenges and priorities. Ask more questions until you have a clear picture of what matters to them. Then adjust your sales pitch to match their priorities.
Sometimes saying that your solution is not a priority can be used to mask a prospective customer’s real concerns. If this is the case, you need to ask questions until you get to the bottom of what the real concerns are.
For instance, you could respond with:
“If you have any other concerns, I’d really appreciate you sharing them with me as we are constantly aiming to refine and improve our service.”
This puts you in a position where you are on their team as an advocate rather than someone simply trying to fill their sales quota even if it’s not a good fit for the customer.
Objection #3: Fear of Change
Example: “I don’t want to change the way we’ve been doing things. Our current process and software works, and too much can go wrong.”
Response: “Yes, I can see that there are some risks involved that need to be managed. However, there is potentially a lot more risk attached to not embracing the need for change. Plus, my goal is not to sell you our solution and leave it there—we are committed to being with you every step of the way as you make the change.”
Being risk averse can make buying a new solution a challenging process for many prospective customers. One way to overcome this objection is to demonstrate past examples of change and how it was positive, whether it’s through customer testimonials or case studies.
I recommend showing your prospective customer a list of different ways their industry has changed over the past five years, and how market leaders adapt to those changes (including purchasing a solution like yours) to stay relevant. Then, explain how some of their competitors are not moving with the times and demonstrate how this is putting their business at risk. This can help your prospective customer feel less fearful and more objective about the need for change.
Objection #4: We Prefer the Established Brand
Example: “We’ve decided to opt for a more established solution that’s been trusted over time.”
Response: “Let me share with you a like-for-like comparison between our solution and XYZ so that you can see for yourself how we match up.”
One of the challenges for startups and small businesses is to overcome the perceived risks of choosing a less well-known or established business solution. The main reason some customers choose the industry standard is because no one gets fired for choosing the most established brand in the industry.
As a small business, you need to be able to overcome this objection. The best way to address this is to provide your prospect with a like-for-like comparison between your solution and that of the industry incumbent. Even better, share one that has been written by a third party, such as an industry journalist.
This was something I personally dealt with as a brand-new education technology (edtech) company with plenty of established competitors. I had to work hard to establish trust with prospects to give us a chance, and often relied on the testimonials from our early adopters, who were satisfied customers, to create a referral program.
Another strategy would be finding ways to “de-risk” choosing your solution. For example, you could offer new customers a free trial to pilot your solution before fully adopting. Or, offer a money-back guarantee if they decide not to implement your solution within 30 or 60 days.
Objection #5: We Already Have a Solution
Example: “Thanks for your call, but we already have an XYZ solution in place.”
Response: “Thanks for being upfront and letting me know. At this point, we aren’t suggesting you change your supplier. We’d just like the opportunity to show you how we are different and how we have provided additional value to our customers.”
It’s essential to recognize that your prospective customers do not want to fix things that aren’t broken. In most cases, your customer will not be aware of the differences between your solution and the one they already have in place.
To resolve this knowledge gap, you need to be able to state how your solution differs to such an extent that your prospect feels the need to review their initial response. It also makes sense to have simple comparisons on hand that allow your prospective customers to review your solution on a like-for-like basis with the key competitors.
However, the most effective response you can provide is to be clear you’re not aiming to replace their current solution immediately, but giving them the opportunity to take a look at another solution that delivers additional value.
Make sure you end the conversation with asking when their current contract is up with their provider and if you can circle back with them then. Even better, get a meeting on the calendar—even if it’s several months out.
When you’re managing multiple deals, it can be hard to keep track of remembering to contact a prospect several months away. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Pipedrive to set reminders and touch points with the prospect. Even before their current contract is over, you can set reminders that help keep you top of mind, such as case studies and congratulating them if you find news about their company. Sign up for a free trial today.
Objection #6: We Just Don’t Have the Budget
Example: “We don’t have a budget for this.”
Response: “That’s OK. We don’t expect you to buy anything right now. We’d just like the opportunity to share what we are doing and see if it’s valuable to your company at some point. How’s that sound?”
If budget is an important part of your qualified lead definition, this may be a stopping point. For example, with a sales model such as the BANT Method (Budget, Authority, Need, Time), leads are only qualified as sales-ready if you can confirm your prospective customer has the budget available to spend in the near future.
However, if you are at the early stages of growing your business, it is important to dig a bit further to understand what not having a budget means. For instance, has your contact spent their budget for the year? If so, when does their new budget commence?
In my experience, if a company really wants something, they find room in their budget and have ways to move budget line items around. Go back to make sure you’re building enough value and once you’ve earned their trust, find ways to make it work, such as split payments or discounts for the first year—especially if you are a new business. Gaining new customers is key, and sometimes you need to do whatever you can to build a solid customer base.
Objection #7: I’ll Get Back to You
Example: “It sounds interesting—email me the details and I’ll get back to you.”
Response: “Do you mind if I first ask you a couple questions now to better understand how we might help? Then I’ll email the information best suited for your needs.”
The reason behind this objection can vary considerably depending on when it comes up in the sales process. If it is raised before you have had the chance to deliver your value proposition and explain who you are and what you do, you’re probably being brushed off. As a result, your response should be:
“Can we take 30 seconds now for me to explain what we do, and you can then decide if it’s worth a follow-up?”
If it comes at the end of your call, after you’ve gone through both your value proposition and qualification, the prospect may have decided this isn’t valuable at some point during your discussions. In this scenario, your response should be:
“Let’s set up some time for a quick demo so you can see how our solution would work best for your business. Does Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon work for you?”
Objection #8: The Timing Isn’t Right
Example: “It’s too busy right now. Call me again in three months.”
Response: “Our solution will enable you to increase profits by 10% within six months and we are the fastest in the industry, which will save you a ton of time and make your life easier. Can I get 20 minutes of your time for a quick demo to share with you how we can help?”
If lack of time is an issue for your prospective customer, it will probably still be an issue when you call back in three months. To overcome this objection, you need to make the decision to consider prioritizing your solution an easy one.
Objection #9: I’m Not Interested
Example: “I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested in what you have to offer.”
Response: “That’s OK, I understand our solution isn’t for everyone, but I’d like to know why you aren’t interested. Do you mind telling me why you aren’t interested in learning more?”
There’s no more common word that the experienced salesperson is used to hearing than “no.” Anticipate it, be prepared to hear it, and don’t take it personally. However, prospects are usually willing to share why they aren’t interested—and it could be related to any of the objections we’ve discussed in this article.
In the early stages of your sales process, the objections you deal with are generally less substantive than the ones that arise later on. If you have not even delivered your value proposition yet, your prospects can’t possibly have enough information to know that your product is of no interest. What they’re really objecting to is giving you their time and attention.
Don’t let this throw you off, as this objection is the easiest to anticipate and deal with. The way you respond is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are worthy of their time and attention. Consider responding in the following way, which demonstrates humility and an open and honest approach:
“Could I briefly explain that I have done my research and I am calling you because we work with companies very similar to yours. We can [insert your value proposition…]”
At this point, share your unique selling proposition, which needs to grab their attention. For instance:
“We’ve been able to save some of your competitors 25% of their stationery costs. Is this something you would be interested in if I could demonstrate how we can do the same for you?”
Anticipate Potential Objections
Now that we’ve covered the most common sales objections, start writing down some of your own. To help you anticipate the objections, you need to be prepared to overcome, consider the following best practices:
- Consult with your sales team: Collect a list of other objections your team has experienced and make them a part of your sales training for new team members. This will help you better gauge which are the most common in your business and industry.
- Brainstorm together: Find your best response to each objection. Some members of your team may be better at dealing with certain objections than others, and you will be able to share best practices.
- Monitor reasons for losing sales opportunities: Use a CRM such as Pipedrive, which makes it easy to set up a menu of potential reasons for losing deals at each stage of your sales pipeline. You can even run automated reports so that you can monitor how you are overcoming objections more effectively.
Prospective customers often don’t give you a chance to explain the value you can provide to their business. This is usually because they are too busy and receive a ton of sales calls on a daily basis. They have learned that blunt objections are the best defense against cold calls that waste their time. To counter this, do your research, anticipate common objections that arise in your industry, and create an overcoming objections handbook.