Overcoming sales objections is an important, if generally unpleasant, part of every sales process. A salesperson may sail through a transaction only to find that, at the last minute, the client expresses hesitation or reluctance over a specific element in the proposed deal–and it threatens to fall apart.
Sometimes a salesperson can’t see the objection coming and is caught flat-footed. Willing to preserve the deal at any cost, he or she makes key concessions that were never part of the original negotiations.
But finding yourself off-guard indicates some missing element in your preparation. After all, as Entrepreneur notes, “your job is to overcome those [sales] objections,” because “if everybody were ready to buy right away, sales would be easy and anyone could do it.”
So what are the most common sales objections raised by prospects, and what strategies are most effective in overcoming them?
Best Practices to Overcoming Sales Objections
The personal factor
Some salespeople become personally offended when a client raises a sales objection. This attitude is both irrelevant and self-defeating. The sales process is all about conducting business, so it’s best to leave one’s personal feelings out of the process.
Establishing your credentials
The sales process is built on a foundation of trust and respect. At the outset of the process–and at every succeeding stage, when possible–establish (and re-establish) your sparkling credentials as a sales representative people trust and depend upon. Without becoming obnoxious about it, look at every meeting (or call) as an opportunity to share achievements from your past record–particularly those in areas that are of most importance to the prospect.
Evidence of sales credentials you can share include:
- Written (or video) testimonials from past clients
- Favorable online reviews
- Sales awards, especially any related to “Customer Service”
- Customer case studies
Demonstrating the positive effect of past sales will likely impress a prospect that you can generate the same results with him or her. This can result in reducing (or eliminating) possible sales objections on the horizon.
Undertake a thorough “sales discovery” process
The more information you gather from a prospect early on, the less chance objections will arise later. That’s why the “sales discovery” is so critically important. In fact, as Business2Community, notes, “Discovery calls set the tone for the entire relationship a salesperson and a prospect will have, making it a vital piece of sales enablement” and serving as a way to “guide them along the rest of the buyer’s journey.”
Essential components of the sales discovery process include:
Asking the right questions.
Your questions for the prospect should always be open-ended (that is, not prompting a “yes” or “no” response). For example, you might ask, “How would your business improve if you had the right solution to your most pressing problems?” or “What if you could find a product or service that dramatically helps your business and doesn’t cost a lot of money?”
What really hurts?
A prospect may or may not truly understand what they need. This uncertainty is often the reason they take your sales call in the first place. As noted, asking a series of pointed questions will help you drill down. Moving beyond surface concerns to a deeper grasp of what the prospect needs (as opposed to some nebulous “wish list”), gives you a leg up in establishing the right rapport with the prospect.
This conversation can lead to mutual enlightenment and a new way of looking at the prospect’s situation. A scenario which can negate at least some sales objections that would otherwise surface later on.
Be an expert on your own products or services.
Entering a conversation without being fully versed in all of your product or service features and benefits risks inviting client concerns or objections at a later time. Armed with comprehensive knowledge, you can answer any troubling questions at the outset. A practice which will, hopefully, pave the way towards a smoother sales process.
Common objections salespeople encounter
Sales objections differ according to the circumstances, but several are frequently encountered by sales teams. These include:
This may be the most common objection raised by a prospect. Unfortunately, as SalesForce notes, “the knee-jerk reaction [among sales professionals] is to immediately offer a lower price.” This strategy “is risky and raises questions about the value of your product,” so it’s better to point out facts that “show the unique value of your product or service.”
When a prospect says, “I need to give your proposal some thought,” it often means they have concerns regarding the full value of your offering. This can be addressed by, as noted above, illustrating examples of value in your initial conversation. Focus on your company’s proven track record and the ways in which the prospect will benefit.
Need for approval.
Some prospects, fearful of making a costly purchasing decision on their own, refer the sales professional to others higher up in the organization. This can lead to delays in the process and the threat of being overtaken by the competition.
Your goal is to identify all of the key decision-makers (or as much as possible). You should then try to get them all involved in the process. If a prospect raises this objection, look at it as a chance to meet with every individual who needs to sign off on the deal. Be quick about arranging a follow-up call or meeting with the important decision-makers ASAP.
The time to purchase isn’t right.
Another common objection involves the potential buyer’s abstract desire to put off the purchasing decision for a later date. It’s up to the sales professional to inject urgency into the conversation by:
- Demonstrating how your product or service can generate favorable results right now; or
- Offer a limited-time discount or special sales terms designed to appeal to a reluctant prospect
When you overcome this particular objection and subsequently deliver great value, your customer is much more likely to do repeat business (and perhaps under terms more beneficial to your organization).
Inevitably, there will be times when the smartest move you can make is simply walking away from a possible deal. It’s important to anticipate this eventuality. Doing so can save you from wasting additional time and resources trying to overcome objections that just won’t go away. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence in the life of a savvy sales professional.
Objections are a natural part of the sales process. As shown, the best way to overcoming sales objections is by coming across as an extremely knowledgeable representative of your organization. You should demonstrate again and again that you put the client’s interests first, you will meet those objections head-on and pave the way towards closing the deal sooner rather than later.