This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management.
Dealing with objections is virtually inevitable in all stages of the sales process. Sales reps who aren’t fully prepared may doubt themselves or give up too soon, but overcoming objections is the key to keeping your sales pipeline full, moving, and closing more deals. Luckily, it is easy to overcome objections and revive what might otherwise be a lost sale simply by preparing answers in advance for common concerns.
What Is a Sales Objection?
A sales objection is any reason why a lead does not wish to move forward to the next stage of the sales process. Sales objections may take place at the earliest stages, like cold calling to introduce a product or service, all the way to the last stages, where a prospect raises an objection after receiving a business proposal or just before a deal closes.
Common Sales Objections
Just as an objection can take place during any stage in the sales process, the specific reasons for a lead not moving forward on a purchase opportunity can occur at any time. Below are some of the most prominent reasons a lead doesn’t go on the next stage:
- Budgetary restrictions: The decision-maker or lead doesn’t feel it’s worth the cost or has a capped expense budget they can’t exceed
- Fear of change: Prospect (or company) is comfortable with the way they do things and worries that a new solution could cause a difficult change
- Prefers a more recognizable brand: The lead is interested in the solution being offered but is not familiar with your brand or comfortable with using a provider they are unfamiliar with
- Satisfied with current provider: The prospect could benefit from your solution, however, they are happy with the current provider they are using
It’s important to differentiate whether a lead objects based on a reason that can be overcome or because your solutions just don’t apply to them. In the latter case, work on improving prospecting research to find leads that are better suited for your products or services. But for the former, learning effective strategies for overcoming sales objections can help you close more deals.
How to Overcome Common Objections
Part of being in sales management is identifying common objections and preparing your team for different types of objection scenarios they will encounter. The goal may be to close the deal on the spot, but it could also be to keep the lead engaged and active in the sales pipeline.
Regardless of the reason, being ready to overcome common sales objections before they are raised is a must. Depending on the type of objection, your sales reps should also be prepared to share logical proof, like statistics or a real-world story in their communications to discredit or disprove the objection.
Emotional selling is also a highly effective technique for overcoming objections in addition to being a proven sales strategy. Your team should also use role-playing activities to practice and perfect these skills.
Tactics you should use in any communication with your prospect include actively listening to the lead, validating objections, and using questions to understand the scope or source of the objection. It’s also an excellent practice to repeat back what you hear to show you are listening and ensure you’re understanding the lead’s concerns correctly.
Pro tip: Dive into strategies for overcoming objections when doing sales training for your employees. For insights on conducting sales training, check out our article on the nine best sales training practices to prepare your team for success.
Here is how you can prepare a communication strategies for overcoming common objections:
1. Budgetary Restrictions
Objecting to a purchase due to budget concerns or restrictions is both common and entirely justifiable. This particular challenge will often occur at the beginning of a sales process, such as when you introduce your business by email or phone call and the lead indicates they aren’t interested because of cost. In some cases, this is true, and thus is a factor that disqualifies the prospect.
Budget-related sales objections also can take place at the proposal stage of the sales pipeline. This happens when a lead asks for pricing but finds the product or service is more expensive than anticipated.
When budgetary restrictions are the catalyst of sales objections, you will often hear statements like:
- “It’s just too expensive for us right now.”
- “We are on a pretty tight budget and don’t see this fitting in.”
- “I’m not looking to spend any more money at this time.”
When budget-related objections need to be overcome, the key is to focus on the value that can be obtained from your product or service. In this case, statistics about return on investment (ROI) or how a solution saves money or increases productivity are useful. Start by validating the concern, ask questions, and then prepare your objection response based on answers to the questions.
An example conversation for overcoming objections about budget or cost might look like this:
Prospect: We are on a pretty tight budget and don’t see this fitting in.
Sales rep: I totally understand. Many of the clients I work with find themselves in the same situation working on a tight budget [repeating back what’s heard], so it’s completely reasonable [validation]. If I could ask you, is your concern more the immediate expense or worry that this investment won’t be worth it in the long run? [questions]
Prospect: Honestly, it’s a little bit of both.
Sales rep: Got it, so both the immediate spending plus worry about long-term value. So, what I can tell you is purchasing [insert your solutions] can be looked at as a strong investment that can [value obtained from solutions such as cost-saving or increased productivity]. In fact, all of our clients similar to your business see on average [value stat about ROI, increased productivity, decreased cost, increased sales, and so on].
You might even have a case study or other data to share with the lead. You may be able to further address spending concerns by extending a discount or free trial, or providing a convincing demo or some other type of consultation. If you can’t prove the value to the prospect or overcome the spending objection, keep in mind that the lead may simply not be appropriate for your products or services.
Pro tip: The Budget, Authority, Need, Time (BANT) Method is a process you can use to qualify leads to help ensure you are only contacting those who are a good fit for your products and services. Check out our article on using the BANT method to help you score and rank qualified leads.
2. Fear of Change
Many objections relate to an operational comfort level. A lead may attempt to halt the sales process because they worry about a massive change your solution could cause, despite both showing interest in the solution and having the spending capabilities to purchase it. Fear of change is understandable, but can be overcome.
Below are some common statements that indicate a fear of change objection:
- “I’m happy with my current setup and don’t wish to make any changes.”
- “We are fine with the way we’ve been doing things and the [solution] we use.”
- “I don’t really want to make this type of change right now.”
This is another instance where emotional selling techniques can be employed in addition to logical statements. For example, triggering the jealousy emotion by explaining how the prospect’s competitor (or even just a similar type of business) has recently adopted the solution and is now seeing solid results can be effective in this situation.
A conversation about this specific objection might look like this:
Prospect: We are fine with the way we’ve been doing things and with the current [solution] we use.
Sales rep: I totally understand. Making big operational changes can seem scary at times. I see many businesses that feel comfortable with the way they’ve been doing things because they feel it’s working. If I can ask you, are you aware of some of the changes [mention competitor or similar type of business] has made recently?
Prospect: I can’t say that I am.
Sales rep: They had the same fear of change but were able to [statistics about the value it provided them] and found that the transition was much easier than anticipated.
Be sure to focus on how you or a service rep will be with them during every step of the process during a substantial change. The conversation could also continue where you show them that change doesn’t have to be a negative thing, that their industry is constantly evolving, and that they need to evolve to keep up with their competitors.
3. Prefers a More Recognizable Brand
A qualified lead interested in shopping for a solution you sell may object to buying because they are not familiar with your business. This is common in brokerage and agency-style industries (such as insurance) involved in third-party sales and for startup and young businesses. It can also occur in distribution-style sales where a distributor is introducing a new product line into a territory.
A few statements alluding to this objection include:
- “I’ll be honest, I’m not very familiar with you guys and don’t have enough information to go by.”
- “I’d prefer a more well-known brand I’ve heard of before.”
- “I prefer to work with only a few, selective providers.”
This objection should truly be considered more of an opportunity than an obstacle. It’s your chance to present your unique selling proposition and show why your business (or product) stands out from the competition. You can also use emotional selling to appeal to the prospect’s pride by telling them they have the opportunity to be an early user, pioneer, or industry leader by adopting the product or service.
In addition to having a thorough understanding of the brand or product, managing this objection also requires knowledge about industry competitors. This enables you to showcase how your offering is superior to more well-known alternatives or how it addresses market gaps that can’t be filled by existing products.
A sales conversation about this specific objection might go like this:
Prospect: I prefer a more well-known brand I’ve heard of before.
Sales rep: I totally understand. We are relatively small and focus on very specific problems and solutions. Do you mind sharing some of the firms you prefer to use?
Prospect: [Says specific firm names or attributes of a firm such as large, multinational, and so on.]
Sales rep: Got it, so one thing I will say is we do get clients who have used those kinds of firms in the past and found issues with [potential issues]. The thing that makes us different and has been an attractive trait for new businesses is [unique selling point].
After this type of conversation, follow up by requesting to send them an email with more information. Client testimonials or independent product reviews are great solutions for leads to review and show you are legitimate. Sweetening the offer with a free add-on for early adopters or offering a risk-free trial, full product demo, or free consultation can also be persuasive in moving the lead forward.
4. Satisfied With Current Provider
Sometimes the solution you are selling is useful (or even a necessity) for your lead, but they are generally happy with their current provider. In this situation, you may have information that is persuasive enough for them to consider your offering.
If not, work to keep them in the sales pipeline for the future. Ask for permission to touch base again a few months down the road, such as a month or so before their contract comes up for renewal or around the beginning of the next fiscal year, when capital expense decisions will be made.
Some common statements for this type of sales objection include:
- “Thank you, but we already have a provider for this in place.”
- “I’ll be honest, I’m satisfied with our current provider.”
- “I am happy with the current provider and don’t know if I need to make changes right now.”
- “We just implemented our current system and won’t think about changing it again for a while.”
The strategy here is similar to the one used when a lead prefers a more recognizable brand. Point out what makes your business or its offerings different with the intent to find any issues, large or small, the lead could be having with their provider. Ask questions like “in a perfect world” what other features or functionality would they want in the product, what could enhance the value for the money, and so on.
A conversation about this objection could go like this:
Prospect: I’ll be honest, I’m satisfied with our current provider.
Sales rep: I totally understand—thanks for letting me know. So, at this time, I’m not looking to change your mind about a purchase decision. I would just like to learn more about your needs and share more about how we may be able to help in the future. Is there anything, in particular, you can share about problems you find in [function of business your solutions solves] or things you’d like to see your current provider do better?
Prospect: [Expresses problem they’d like to see fixed or issue with current provider]
The next statement from the sales rep will heavily depend on the answer. If the prospect identifies something they wished was better, such as lower prices or a missing feature, having an easier-to-use solution, or better customer service, offer details about how your solution can fix whatever problems they stated.
If there’s a direct issue with the current provider, deliver a sales pitch that goes into your unique value proposition and how you can be better at the aspect they are dissatisfied with. In the event they aren’t willing to consider making change, initiate a next step, such as asking to send them an email with more information or set up an appointment to speak again a few months later.
Pro tip: Ensure following up with a lead and sending them more information about your business doesn’t slip through the cracks by using the task management features in a customer relationship manager (CRM). HubSpot CRM, for instance, allows you to create and store tasks that are pending, schedule them, and show you what needs to be done each day.
Overcoming objections is a part of sales in every industry. Being prepared to overcome sales objections at any stage of the sales process is the key to keeping a lead or prospect active in your pipeline. Use proven techniques for overcoming objections, such as active listening, asking questions, validating concerns, and emotional selling to convert more deals and nurture future sales opportunities.