OUR RESEARCH PROCESS

We conducted 40-plus hours of research and then solicited the expertise of Hannah Rachel Smith, a leading sales manager for Tangent based in San Francisco.

IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE

  1. Objections are obstacles to your close and can be about price/budget, competition, authority/ability to buy, and need/fit.
  2. Listening distinguishes persuasion from pushiness: knowing the difference will help you overcome most objections.
  3. Use open-ended questioning in your responses to objections: begin statements with When, Where, Why, What, and How.

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What is an objection?

Objections are explicit expressions by a buyer about a barrier that exists between their current situation and the needs they require to be satisfied before they buy. Objections are frequently recognizable as opinion-based (e.g., they begin with first-person pronouns, “I” and “We”).

Why do you need to strategize how to respond to objections?

Objections stand in the way of your offer and its acceptance by a buyer. An objection unaddressed, or even unsatisfactorily addressed, is likely to be a lost deal.

Where in the sales process do objections usually occur?

Objections usually occur during or after discovery but can happen at any point in the sales process (e.g., during qualification, discovery, and/or close).

What’s the difference between objections and qualifications?

Qualification is ensuring that they have the resources and incentive to buy. Objections deal with all the minutiae involved in what you’re selling.

What needs to happen before addressing objections?

You provide the buyer with a proposal and all the information necessary for them to feel they are making an informed decision.

Can an objection made during the earliest stages of the sales process (e.g., during qualification) have any significant impact on later stages?  

Yes. With larger deals you will likely have more discovery meetings, planning meetings, and perhaps iterate on the proposal multiple times: these iterations are sometimes in response to objections you’ve overcome.

When should you let an objection kill a deal?

When your product cannot satisfy the buyer’s needs.

What are the 5 most common types of objections?

  1. Price/Budget
  2. Competition
  3. Authority/Ability to Buy
  4. Need and Fit
  5. Brush Offs

Sales Objection Based on Price/Budget

Best Response

It’s too expensive.

“What price were you hoping for?”

There’s no money.

“When do you expect there will be money?”

We don’t have any budget left.

“When does your Fiscal Year end?”

You want to know their FY since different industries have different fiscal years that start at different times.

I don’t want to get stuck in a contract.

“Why not?” 

Contracts can often be altered to make everyone feel comfortable. Often a contract is as much for the customer’s benefit as the seller’s: find out why and adjust accordingly when possible.

I can get a cheaper version somewhere else.

“Where? If you tell me what pricing you’re getting elsewhere, I can speak with our management team about staying competitive.”

You want to know as much as you can about what systems they have purchased/used in the past.

Sales Objection Based on Competition

Best Response

I’m locked into a contract with a competitor.

“When does it end?” 

Often these are good people to put in your pipeline because you have more time to develop a relationship with them and once their contract is nearing the end you have a nice pathway in.

We’re already working with another vendor.

“How is that working out?” or “How do you like them?” or “What’s your experience been with them thus far?”

Continue to ask open-ended questions until you hear a crack and be prepared fill it by knowing how you stack up against competition.

I’m happy with your competitor.

“Which competitor? If you tell me what pricing you’re getting elsewhere, I can speak with our management team about staying competitive.”

Keep asking open-ended questions. There’s usually a crack somewhere that you can squeeze into. Sometimes you can offer a lesser, complementary service to fill a void and once you have a foot in the door you can show flex and show your value.

Competitor X says [false statement about your product].

“Hm...They must be confused. I have [insert document/data sheet/whitepaper/etc.] that shows otherwise.” 

If you don’t have data, just be genuine: “I can assure you that’s not the case” and try to explain the misunderstanding.

Sales Objection Based on Authority and Ability to Buy

Best response

I’m not authorized to sign off on this.

“How does the person who is feel about it?” 

Asking someone to elaborate on someone else’s opinions or feelings can make them connect you with the right person so they don’t have to put in the emotional burden of thinking about someone else.

[Person in charge of our budget] isn’t convinced.

Start with “How do you feel about it?”Follow up with “What are their objections?” or “How can we change their minds?”

You want to know everything you can about who is in charge of the budget.

We’re being downsized/bought on.

“What benefits or drawbacks do you see resulting from this?” 

You want to know how this will affect the need for whatever it is you’re selling.

I can’t sell this internally.

“What would it take to change that?”

I’m part of a buying group.

“Great! A lot of companies can benefit from this. What is the best way to make sure you’re all getting to take advantage of [product]?”

Sales Objection Based on Need and Fit

Best Response

It’s just not important right now.

Start with “Why?” and follow up with “When do you think it will be important?” or “Can I stay in touch so that when it becomes important you don’t have to do the legwork of researching [product] again?”

We don’t have the business plan.

“We can be flexible with our contract until you have a better idea of direction: that way as you grow, [product] will be a part of your company and can scale as you do.”

We’re doing great in this area.

“I think we can help you do even better.”

We’re happy with the way things are.

“What could make you happier?”

I’ve never heard of your company.

“Check out what our customers have to say about us” and send them testimonials/white papers, etc.

Your product is just too complicated.

“How could we simplify it?” 

In this case, if it is in fact too complicated, you’ll get some good feedback; if not, the true objection or misunderstanding will become uncovered quickly.

I’ve heard complaints about your company [factual ones]

“Unfortunately not every interaction has been positive. But we have done [XYZ] to remedy those complaints and are always open to customer feedback.”

We don’t have the capacity to implement the product.

“How can we help? We have an implementation team that can guide you through the process.” 

If not, find some kind of solution (e.g., maybe moving slower than normal or making sure as their account manager you’re super hands-on).

You don’t understand my challenges. I need help with X, not Y.

“I’m sorry I did not communicate adequately - this product can help [X] by helping [Y] in these ways…”

Your product doesn’t have X feature, and we need it.

If you don’t have that feature perhaps offer an alternative: “You’re right, it does not. However we’ve seen other customers use [X] to fill in the gap and it’s worked great for them.”

You don’t get my business.

“I understand it takes a LOT to comprehend the ins and outs of your business. What do you think I’m missing?”

I don’t see the potential for ROI.

“Can you share your analysis with me? I’d be happy to take a look and break down your gains from using our product.”

Your product doesn’t work with our current setup.

“What about your setup is incompatible? We have tailored our solution to fit [X] amount of different environments.”

It’s just a fad.

“I can understand why you’d feel that way: research we’ve done actually indicates that the industry is moving in this direction and integrating this solution will not only save you money in the long run but ensures you won’t have to make big internal changes once you do decide to implement.”

Sales Objection Based on “Brush Offs”

Best Response

Click.

Try them one more time to make sure it wasn’t just a technical error.

Your product sounds great, but I’m too swamped right now.

“When’s a better time?”

I’m busy right now.

“I’m free to speak to you day or night. Is there a better time to call back?”

How did you get my information?

“From [X] who indicated you could avoid [common problem you solve] by integrating [product].”

Just send me some information.

“I’d be happy to! What are you currently doing for [describe what the product does].”

I hate you.

“That’s okay! Do you need [product]?”

For how to handle objections during a sales cold call, click here.