Handling Sales Objections: What to do When They Say “NO”

When we talk about handling sales objections, we often focus on the later stage of the buying process. However, at the initial stage, you will probably hear any of the following objections from prospects:

“It’s too expensive.”

“I’m busy right now.”

“I’m not interested.”

An objection at the early stage of the buying cycle will come up when you are trying to set up a meeting with a new (or existing) prospective client, and they want to tell you – one way or the other – “No, I don’t want to meet/talk to you at the time you propose or at all”. Rather than simply saying that they may offer what we call a sales objection.

If you were selling the perfect product with excellent communication with your prospects, objections would not come up. Since you are not selling the perfect product,
then it’s likely that you’ll encounter objections.

Also see: TeamWave.com – Integrated CRM, Project Management & HR platform.

 

Basics

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Sometimes the prospect says one thing but it means something else. For example, the prospect may say that the company doesn’t have time to take on a large project right now. However, the real issue is that he doesn’t believe you can deliver on your promise. He’s not willing to risk it because there’s a lack of trust.

Initially, your prospects may not think you’re worth it. If they did, they would buy it. (Or so they say).

Sales Objections are a natural step in the selling process. Be wary of a buyer with no objections at all; he might have them and not be sharing them with you. If objections are viewed as a necessary step towards gaining commitment, they are less likely to derail your sale.

Sales objections are a great way to learn and talk about the value of your product. It lets you know what your prospect finds valuable.

By communicating the value of services upfront with your prospects, it will be simpler for you to counter objections. However, your prospect may still have concerns that you need to address given market transitions, and the increased pressures to reduce costs and drive greater innovation.

Handling Predictable Objections

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Here’s a list of 10 sales objections and a suggested way to handle each one.

Note: You don’t have to like or use these approaches, but by reading this, you can come up with a way that you are comfortable responding to each of these  sales objections, because chances are, if you are selling, you will probably hear and need to address some or all of these before you know it.

1- I don’t have time to talk to you.

Suggested response:
“I understand, but if you do have time, would (the reason for your call) be of interest to
you?”

Comments: 

This is a common sales objection. The aim of our response is to counterbalance their immediate issue (no time) and to try to test for interest in the absence of a time restraint.

If the reply remains negative, then it is time to move on. If there is interest outside of the time constraint, then try to find another time when the prospective buyer can meet or speak with you.

2- Send me something.

Suggested response:

“I would be happy to, but we have a lot of different materials. Can I ask you a few
questions to help me choose the right information to send to you?”

Comments: 

If you start by agreeing to their request, you will disarm them. However, by clarifying what information you should send, you are clarifying their specific needs. If they answer, “Just send me anything about your product,” then they are seemingly just trying to get you off the phone. If, on the other hand, you are able to discuss different service lines or specific solutions with them, then you are qualifying them and getting information to help you set up the meeting.

If the discussion starts to become too detailed and involved, then offer to bring the materials by their office, so you can show them the options and answer any questions.

3- We are working with someone else.

Suggested response:

“Yes, I would expect that. The reason that I am calling now is to show you what we are doing that may be different, and may, in fact, complement what you are already doing. If we can meet for about 20 minutes in your office, I can show you what you may need to know about our solution to be able to decide if it fits into what you are already doing now. Are you available on Friday at 2:00?”

Comments: 

Most good leads of yours may already have a product for what you sell. The worst thing you can do is speak badly about their current product, talk too well about your product, or worst of all, ask, “Are you happy with your current vendor?” That question is insulting to the prospect.

If they were not happy with their current product, they would not be using them. Remember if your prospect is not using your product it is because they don’t know all that there is to know about it. Your role is to help them understand your product, and taking the path above to this VERY common objection will get the prospect to start thinking that there may be more available in the section you offer than what he receives from his current vendor, and that meeting with you, if nothing else, is a way to learn more about it.

4- We don’t have that in the budget.

Suggested response:

“If you did have that in the budget, would you want to move forward with it?”

Comments: 

If you are talking to a prospect who is a decision-maker, and they want something, they can customarily manipulate the budget to get it. The value of asking this question is that it directs you to another objection, which you can address.

For example, the prospect may say something like, “No, our boss had a bad experience with this kind of product in the past.” Now you are behind the budget question and onto another objection to address it.

If they reply “yes” to the budget question, indicating that if it was in the budget they would purchase it, then you can start talking about either how to get it into the next budget before that budget is written, financing options or what other budgets this might be able to fit into that might have cash for something like what you are selling.

5- I am not the decision-maker.

Suggested response:

“Thanks for letting me know. Can you tell me who I should be speaking to about this (and can you transfer me?)”

Comments: 

If the prospect is not a decision-maker, it is very important that you get the proper name, title, and phone number, and ask that you be transferred. Many business systems indicate which calls come from outside and which come from inside the company; a call that is transferred within is more likely to be answered than one that comes from outside.

Once you get to the decision-maker, begin again with the SCORE (Sales Conversation Request) script, but your reason becomes that you talked to this other person in the company (use their name), and they recommended that the person you are talking to now is the right person to talk to about your offering.

6- We do that internally.

Suggested response:

“Yes, a lot of companies that I work with now had been doing this internally when we first spoke, but over time, they came to realize that we bring a broader experience set, more focused diagnostic tools, greater accountability, and ultimately improved performance at a lower cost than their internal solution. If we can meet for about 20 minutes, I can show you some of the specific areas in which we help clients make improvements above and beyond that possible with their internal resources alone. Are you available on Friday at 2:00?”

Comments: 

Sometimes your biggest competition will come from inside the company; however, you have an undeniable asset. The fact that your business works with a large number of customer companies gives you a knowledge base and a set of tools to solve problems that are almost surely more robust than those of your prospective customer.

Find a way to show the benefits to the customer/prospect of harnessing your wide extent of experience, and get an excuse to show these benefits in a compact and compelling way. That should get you to the first meeting.

Most people want to know what they are missing. When you get the opportunity, don’t offend the current team doing the work, but help them to see how working with you will get better results faster, and you may win.

7- This is not a good time for us.

Suggested response:

“If it were a good time, would you want to move forward?”

Comments: 

This is one of the common objections. If it is a matter of timing, and at some other time they would want to move forward, your discussion becomes about “when” not “if.”

It is crucial to know in this case WHY it is not a good time now. Then get a time-frame to call back when the time is better for a reason you know and agree on with the client. Be sure to clean up any other concerns that may need to be addressed, so that you don’t need to challenge them when the time in the future comes.

If the “now is not a good time” sales objection comes up for a few follow up calls in a row, respect the fact that it may NEVER be a good time, and suggest this to the client. What do you have to lose – other than your own valuable time?

8- Your prices are too high.

Suggested response:

Can you help me understand what pricing you are comparing us to?”

Comments: 

If a prospect brings up a cost objection at the time you are trying to set up a first meeting, there is some data that has not yet been exchanged. At this time, you have not discussed product and pricing, but your lead is making assumptions.

You need to know why they feel the way they do about your cost so that you can address those concerns. The end of the “compared to what?” discussion will be most successful if you can look forward to your sales method and recognize that you will need to do a needs analysis. As such, you may say to your prospective client something like:

“We offer a lot of solutions for a variety of issues, and there are different costs associated with each specific approach. Why don’t we meet for about 30 minutes in your office and talk about the details of your requirements? This will allow me to estimate the pricing, and to show you what the value we add to your project justifies the prices we charge. Are you available next Friday at 2:00?”

9- We’re not interested.

Suggested response:

“That sounds familiar, some of my best clients said the same thing at this stage of the conversation, but once they learned how we can help them, they became interested, and started benefiting from the results of our system. Would you allow me 20 minutes in your office, perhaps this Friday at 2:00, to show you how we changed so many minds in such a short time?”

Comments: 

Like the “cost” objection above, this sales objection indicates that the prospect thinks they know more than they might really know about you and your offering. Your work is not to get disturbed by this, but to try to look out for this fact, in a soft way, and to recommend that with a little more information, prospects might be as many of your best clients today, and come to see the value of your offering. The only price is a 20-minute meeting to get the information—and guess what—you got your meeting.

10- I need to think about it.

Suggested response:

“I’m not sure what issues you want to consider, but what might make sense is for us to meet for about 20 minutes to flesh out your concerns together. Are you available on Friday at 2:00?

Comments: 

This sales objection can be a killer after the proposal is addressed unless you handle it right.  The philosophy behind an effective response to this objection is that whatever the issues are, it makes more sense to address them together now, than to have the prospect of thinking about the issues alone, and later. Suggest this in the right way, and you will probably either get your meeting, or you will find out the main thing that the prospective client is thinking about, in which case you can address that.

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How to Handle Sales Objections?

Sales Objection

Sales objections are actually good for any sales representative.

When a prospect raises an objection, it means that the person has considered your offering and found out couple of issues before going ahead with the deal. As a sales person it is your job to understand the objection, resolve the issue and convey the value of your solution.

Common Reasons Behind Sales Objections

  1. Budget Constraint
  2. Unidentified Problem
  3. Wrong Timing
  4. Limitation in Solution
  5. Ulterior Motive
  6. Alternate Solutions
  7. Stakeholder Approval
  8. Preconceived Notion
  9. Limited Information

Objection Handling Tactics

This is out of budget

BudgetThere can be three scenarios when the prospect says that your solution is too expensive:

i) There is genuine cash crunch

Ask for the meeting anyway and convey the value, as the budget might open up in the future. Who knows if your prospect really likes the solution, he might work as the internal advocate and try to increase the budget.

ii) He didn’t understand the actual ROI and the benefits delivered by your solution in the long term

Dig deep and try to understand where exactly your product fails the benchmark. Explain how your solution adds value (example: reduction in total cost of ownership) and justify the pricing. Use case studies to strengthen your position.

iii) He properly assessed your solution and didn’t find it worth the investment

In this case connect with the prospect after couple of months and showcase the improved solution, better ROI, new clients, etc.

We’re working with [Competitor]

Competitor

If your prospect is working with your competitor, try one of the following:

i) Ask your prospect for A/B test – deploy your solution along with your competitor’s to find out the better solution.

ii) Convey the additional value (if any) delivered by your solution. If your competitor is improving A and B, you can say that your solution improves C in addition to A and B.

Right now this is not a priority

Not a priorityWhen a prospect is immersed in something that requires her immediate attention, you’ll get this type of response. You might also get this response, if your solution comes off as something that would distort the established process.

First make sure that you have not approached the wrong prospect and the timing is correct. Then find out why your solution is taking a back seat.

Example:

[Prospect]: Right now we’re busy with new project requirements and we need to travel a lot.

[Sales Rep]: That’s great! You can use our mobile app to capture data during meetings and collaborate on the go.

We don’t need this solution

Say no gilfoyleThis reply might come up early in the sales cycle, when the prospect doesn’t know about the problem or has wrong information.

Sales rep should find out the reason behind this reply and educate the prospect about the problem they have.

If you get this reply later in the sales cycle, your solution actually might not be a good fit for the prospect.

We’ll purchase only if you add [additional deliverables]

additional deliverableIt is quite common for prospects to demand additional offers, features, etc. They just want to customize the solution according to their need.

The key here is to find out why that particular additional feature is so important that it can break the deal. The answer you get might not be in-line your company’s vision or it might improve your offering.

If the requirement is genuine and in-line with company’s future plan, then promise that it’ll done. Also try to see if you can provide any work around. If the customer demand has no justification or not something that company can offer, then walk out of that deal.

We’ll purchase next month

timeEither the prospect is stalling you or genuinely interested in buying after some time.

In this kind of scenario you should ask the prospect about their buying process – what are the sequential steps taken by their company to complete the purchase. That way you would know exactly what needs to happen along with estimated timeline for closing the deal. This will help you customize your action plan in case there is any delay.

I need to run this through the board of directors

sales stakeholder discussionIn B2B sales, you are bound to encounter multiple stakeholders. The number of meetings and stakeholders increase according to the size of the organisation.

In this case you should try to be present (physically/via phone) in that meeting. This will help you expedite the process, clarify doubts and give you a good shot at convincing others.

Mail the details and I’ll get back to you

mail the sales detailsThe prospect might have said this with good intentions to evaluate your solution. But most probably you won’t receive any communication, as the onus of initiating the follow-up now lies with the prospect.

Just acknowledge that you’d be sending the required information and also add that you need to know what all information is important to the prospect. This will ease the tension and open up the door to have detailed conversation.

No time to talk!

no timeUsually this response is given at the early stage of sales cycle. All you need to say is you need two minutes to explain how your offer can benefit them.

If you get this message in the later stages of sales cycle, it simply means that the prospect has become cold and it won’t be possible to close the deal without revamping your solution.

Five-step approach

Here are the five steps you can follow to handle sales objection.

1) Listen and empathise

Fully listen to the customer without any interruption and say ‘thank you’. Empathizing with customers helps them open up and leads to an engaging discussion.
Example: “I understand this can be disappointing and I think I can help”.

2) Ask questions and Identify the objection

Ask open-ended questions that would require more than yes/no and figure out the exact objection. If you’re stuck at some point, simply ask ‘why?’.

3) Probe and discover the root

Get to the root of the objection with the help of probing questions. Example: Sorry, I didn’t fully understand. Could you please give me an example.

4) Answer and confirm

Once you have fully understood the issue, answer the issue and get the confirmation from the prospect that your answer was satisfactory.

5) Show the value

Quantify the problem and show the ROI of your solution. Finally move the deal to the next stage in the sales cycle. If you’re at the last stage, ask for closure.


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