The 12 Best Objection Handling Techniques for Sales You’ll Ever Read

By Chris Orlob, April 27, 2018

Objection handling techniques, tips, and tricks for sales are all over the Internet.

So what makes this the BEST post about objection handling you’ll ever read?

Simple: it’s the only one based on hard data.

Our team at Gong.io studied 67,149 sales call recordings from our database of over 1,000,000 recorded calls.

We only included demos and sales presentations from screen-sharing platforms like Webex, GoToMeeting, and Zoom.

Then, we analyzed the calls using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to identify behaviors that correlate with sales success.

A few behaviors stood out, including the talk-to-listen ratio, the number of questions asked, the topics discussed, and yes, how the sales rep responded to a customer’s objections.

Originally, we planned to outline the anatomy of an effective sales presentation, which you can check out here.

But, the way successful salespeople were handling sales objections were golden and we wanted to share them as well.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Objection Handling Technique #1: Pause

The most successful salespeople pause immediately after a customer’s objection for 5X longer than their less successful peers.

Apparently, “keep calm and carry on” is the right way to go.

objection handling

Interestingly, those successful reps also pause for longer after an objection than during other less “confrontational” parts of a sales call.

It’s as if objections trigger them into slow motion. (Very Matrix. Nice.)

By contrast, their less successful peers hardly pause at all, and in many cases, interrupt the customer upon receiving an objection.

Unsuccessful salespeople pounce on objections. They get all riled up, which doesn’t help their cause.

The takeaway?

Chill out. Listen. Then reply.

Objection Handling Technique #2: Don’t Speed Up

Reps who pounce on objections do something else too — they speak faster after hearing an objection.

Why?

They get stressed and react from their gut instead of their brain.

Consider this: In a normal conversation without objections, a rep’s average talking speed is 173 words per minute.

When stressed, a poor-performing rep will ramp up to 188 words per minute, hoping to counter the objection with a blur of opposition.

objection handling

They confuse their ability answer quickly with their capacity to respond well.

Speed and quality aren’t the same things.

Top performing reps know that instinctively.

That’s why their rate of speech barely goes up when they respond to an objection.

They maintain their pace, which is an unconscious cue to the customer that solid, well-founded answers are coming.

Objection Handling Technique #3: Talk less

If you want to meet an objection with confidence and calm, quash your urge to talk more. Tell yourself to talk less.

It shows the customer that you’re not thrown by questions; you’re confident you have the right answers.

If you start talking more, you’ll shut down your customer’s ability to engage in the conversation at one of its most crucial points — when they have a doubt or concern.

Think of this as your chance to bring clarity to the conversation and engage even more deeply with the customer.

You can’t do that if you’re the only one speaking.

So resist the urge to ramp up your chatter. Talking less will help you connect meaningfully with your customer at a critical juncture.

Objection Handling Technique #4: Avoid Knee-Jerk Monologues

Sales reps who jump in quickly, talk faster, and say more also have a tendency to reply with one long, knee-jerk reaction monologue.

We’ve seen it last up to 21.45 seconds. Yuck.

Why do they do it?

A deep, internal insecurity kicks in and they worry they’ll lose the sale.

They stop creating a conversation and focus only on what’s coming out of their own mouths.

They try to talk their way out of the situation.

The result? They unleash a long, one-way speech.

That completely changes the pace of the conversation for the worse:

Objection Handling

It shifts from a healthy back-and-forth pace to a block of uninterrupted rep babble.

It’s a defensive move, which sends terrible signals to the customer.

Easy solution here: Catch yourself in the act and stop monologuing.

Objection Handling Technique #5: Clarify with Questions

Remember when we said to talk less? Here’s another good reason to take that advice.

If you respond too quickly to objections, you’re more likely to address the wrong issue.

Imagine offering up a terribly long spiel only to find you’ve addressed the wrong objection!

You’ve made matters worse. How embarrassing.

Now the customer thinks you don’t understand them and they haven’t heard a solution to their original objection.

Let’s avoid this situation.

What should you do instead of jumping in with a quick reply?

Ask questions.

More than half of top performers respond to an objection with a question.

They want to know they understand their customer’s objection before they address it:

It’s a small step that avoids painful misunderstandings.

Objection Handling Technique #6: Keep Switching Speakers

Every sales call has a flow that’s established early on.

Great sales people know that switching back and forth between speakers contributes to good flow and creates a healthy conversation.

When objections come up, those reps don’t change a thing. That’s their winning strategy.

They stick with the same number of handoffs in the conversation:

Objection Handling

Don’t try to suddenly dominate the conversation after getting a query.

Keep it healthy. Switch back-and-forth between speakers like you always did.

Objection Handling Technique #7: Ask This Question

You’re either going to love or hate this bit of advice.

After you reply to an objection, ask some version of “Does that make sense?

That phrase doesn’t sit well with everyone, but it works whether we like it or not.

Interestingly, star sales reps don’t use it more or less than anyone else.

They do, however, use it in three specific situations to close a loop:

  • Agenda setting
  • Scheduling next steps
  • Objection handling

Confirm that you’re all on the same page and get everyone ready to move to next steps. (Read more analysis of the phrase Does that make sense?)

Objection Handling Technique #8: Use Your Team

This one is going to shock you:

Team selling makes you up to 258% more likely to close a deal than flying solo.

We’re not even kidding. It’s a huge game changer:

Objection Handling

Having just one call in your sales cycle with multiple participants moves you closer to that 258% stat.

So be sure you have multiple people on your side of the call. (Having multiple people on the buyer’s side helps, but only correlates to a 32% higher close rate.)

Recommendation #1: Have more than one participant, but not more than four, which is where the benefits start to drop off.

Recommendation #2: Don’t have multiple participants during a discovery call or your success rate will likely drop. Do have them on any other call in your sales cycle.

Objection Handling Technique #9: Save Price for Last

To be fair, some topics are touchy. Delicate. Uncomfortable to handle.

For sales reps, the most difficult one is often pricing.

Handling a pricing objection?

Even more unpleasant.

So what do you do with pricing?

How do you handle it proactively?

Wait to talk about it.

It may seem counterintuitive, but waiting is a strategy that top reps have used for ages.

They bring up pricing much further into a sales call than their less successful peers.

During a one-hour call, star reps raise pricing at the 38-46-minute window.

Their less successful peers do it in the first 12-15 minutes:

Objection Handling

Why does it work to wait?

When you delay talking about pricing, the customer gets a chance to be impressed with your product. And if they’re wowed, they’ll likely have fewer pricing objections.

Objection Handling Technique #10: Use Effective Language

We all react better to some words than others.

Here are eight proven winners you can use to address objections:

Imagine: On its own, it has little effect. When you tell the customer what to imagine, it’s incredibly powerful. Here’s an example: “Imagine closing the gap between your top reps and everyone else.”

Use case language: Describe the tasks your product helps the customer perform, rather than what it does or how it works. Use action verbs like “coaching”, “onboarding”, and “diagnosing”.

Successful: The top sales reps say “successful” 4-6X per hour on their sales calls. You guessed it, that’s more than everyone else.

Fair: This word is so powerful, you should use it on average as little as 1.7X over all the calls that span a deal. Use it to move to next steps, like this: “I’m happy to walk you through this demo. And if you like what you see, we’ll schedule a concrete next step. Is that fair?”

The customer’s first name: Cliché but true. On average, top salespeople use their customer’s name 4.1X per hour.

Decisive language: A-players use crisp, decisive language like definitely, certainly, and “We can do that.” Confidence is everything.

Client, not customer: A customer buys something from you. A client is under your guidance, advice, and even protection, which is much more appealing.

Probably: Decisive language is necessary, but it needs to be balanced with cautiously optimistic language. Probably tells customers you’re realistic and will be honest with them.

Objection Handling Technique #11: Embrace Objections

When customers respond to your demo in a way that seems too good to be true, it often is, and they won’t end up buying from you.

Conversely, when they express concerns and objections, it can be a positive signal.

What gives?

Serious buyers pay attention. That means they dig in, get critical, and ask tough questions.

They want to be sure your product is a great fit.

That tough line of questioning — or negative buyer sentiment — actually increases as they move toward a purchase:

Objection Handling

Don’t let it shake your confidence.

It’s a great opportunity to respond to their concerns, provide answers, and move toward a sale.

And if they’re being too positive and not asking any questions, take a chance and probe a little.

Take it upon yourself to find out what obstacles and reservations you’d need to resolve together to move to the next step.

Objection Handling Technique #12: Set off Competitive Landmines

That’s right, talk about the competition early on.

Doing so makes your deal 49% likelier to close than if the competition never comes up at all:

Objection Handling

A gentle “Who else are you considering?” is all it takes.

The best salespeople know that early on, the customer is still forming their conclusions, and that’s when it’s easiest to get ahead of the competition.

If you mention the competition at the end of the sales cycle, the odds of closing the deal go down.

That’s because the customer has formed an opinion about your product and then wonders how the competitors might stack up.

Your influence in shaping that vision goes down the tubes if it’s raised at the end of the call.

So, deal with the elephant in the room early on and you’ll have more influence over your customer’s perceptions of you.

Download the Objection Handling Cheat Sheet

We created a printable cheat sheet of the key objection handling techniques from this blog post.

Take a look, and download the cheat sheet here:

Download it, print it out, and tape it to your wall for everyone to learn from.

Try a few of these out the next time you’re handling objections, and let us know what works.

 

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Chris Orlob

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io

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