The moment a customer voices a sales objection, it’s tempting to do two things. Both of them are a bad idea.
Hearing sales objections make a rep want to:
- Say these words: “I’ve got the perfect solution for you!”
- Launch (knee-jerk styles) into a monologue about how their product solves the problem.
We’re pulling the reins. We’re shouting whoa. We’re giving you a better approach right now so you stop losing deals.
Handling sales objections well is a skill that separates good reps from their top-performing peers. It’s key to climbing your leaderboard.
Want to Prevent Objections? You Can’t.
But you can learn how to handle them.
Even the top-performing reps encounter sales objections. They’re not something you can avoid by doing a great job in the sales process, so get comfortable with them. Think of them as a normal part of your deal.
What matters is knowing which type of objection you face, and using the right strategy to overcome it.
Below, we describe five major types of sales objections, why they arise, and how to handle each one. They’re listed from the easiest-to-handle to the most difficult of all.
Off we go!
Smokescreen objections are simply a cover story, standing in for what’s really bothering the buyer.
They creep into your deal when you fail to uncover the customer’s deeper doubts. They’re like getting a superficial answer to “What’s bothering you?”
Now, given that they’re the easiest objection to handle, you might be tempted to think they’re not particularly dangerous, but that’s where you’d be wrong.
They have the potential to wallop your entire deal.
Why? Because if you don’t know the buyer’s real objection, you’re never able to address it and move to the next stage.
Here’s how you get out of this trap, with one magic heck-of-a-sentence about the sales objection they named:
“If we somehow figured out how to solve that issue completely, what other obstacles would we have to overcome before moving forward?”
If the customer voices other obstacles, those may be the real sales objections you’re up against. Now you know what really needs addressing. If they don’t name any other objections, you should have decent sailing ahead.
(Worried that your customer is still hiding the truth from you, even after that magic question? We get it. Sometimes they are, with imposter objections, — four deadly objections that masquerade as small talk. H’oh boy. Find out what they are in our Uncensored Objection Handling Techniques: Your Guide for Turning Pushback into Pipeline.)
Now all the customer’s objections are on the table where you can see them.
These are also fairly straightforward. Concerns are minor points you need to overcome before moving forward with your deal.
Customers usually state them pretty plainly, not like smokescreen objections. You know what you’re dealing with here, which is a good thing.
So what exactly are they and where do these sort of sales objections come from?
They’re often emotion-based speed bumps, not outright doubts about your product. They crop up when a customer already likes what’s on offer and has no serious objections to buying it.
Sometimes they’re a proxy for the nervousness that sets in right before making a big purchase. We’ve all had that feeling and now your customer has it too.
Here’s how you deal: Respond directly to their concerns. It’s the only way to soothe the nagging question(s) in their head.
Want a real-life example?
Say your customer is worried about a lengthy onboarding process. It’s an important — but uncomplicated — concern. You have a few options for responding:
- Arrange a meeting with a Customer Success Manager who can provide a more detailed outline of the process. (It helps to have the actual CSM they’d work with.)
- Connect the potential customer with a current customer who’ll provide a reference for your quick and pain-free onboarding experience.
Whatever you do, your actions should provide a clear response to precisely the sales objection the customer named. No beating around the bush.
Concerns can usually be soothed fairly easily. Let’s move to something a little tougher…
Finesse and skill are in order here as the sales objections you face get tougher.
Sales objections can be tricky, but the good part is that your customer is paying attention.
These sales objections point to their engagement and a desire to deeply understand how your product addresses their pain points and business needs.
Sure, it may also be an indicator that you didn’t quite get that message across in your pitch, but this is your opportunity to fix things.
(You’ll eventually want to go back and listen to game tape from across the deal to figure out where you could have nailed the message sooner, and how to do so in the future. That’s precisely what our call recording software is for. Well, that and many other wonderful things. Check it out here.)
As for a corrective approach, take their very real and entirely legit sales objection and reframe it as an opportunity.
Your goal is to change their underlying belief about a genuine sales objection, so they see it in a new light:
Did they mention a problem? Turn it into an opportunity.
Did they mention a weakness? Turn it into a strength.
Did they mention poor timing? Turn it into perfect timing.
At Gong, for example, customers often want to wait until the start of a fresh quarter before moving ahead with a pilot. They usually say they’re too swamped with closing out important deals in the current quarter and that it would be easier to start up fresh in the next quarter.
But we don’t want those deals to stall. (Time kills all deals.)
So here’s how we overcome them with a reframe: We point out that the conversations in which reps are trying to close deals are exactly the types of conversations that contain critical insights. End of quarter is precisely the time to implement a pilot and get insights into reps’ conversations!
What they thought of as a barrier is actually a perfect opportunity. The faster they get data about critical conversations, the faster they’ll improve their sales cycle and coaching, and the faster they’ll win more deals.
(Once they’re up and running, they can tuck into the coaching framework we provide in The Sales Coaching Template for High-Performing Teams. It’s designed to help elite sales managers polish their coaching skills so they can help reps score deals more often.)
Flip that sales objection. Right on its little head. Turn it into a priceless opportunity, and let the customer see it in a new light.
Now we’re into it.
Conditions are serious. More than a straightforward concern or sales objection, these are true-blue problems you have to solve (fully and completely) before a deal can proceed.
The terrifying part is that if you don’t solve them, the deal will sink.
Conditions appear when there’s a significant barrier to a sale that’s outside the control of you or your buyer.
Say, for example, that your buyer loves the product, but you don’t have an integration that’s appropriate given their tech stack. That’s a very real problem that can’t be overcome by reframing or other well-worded responses.
Yes, you might be able to have engineering develop a new integration, but that’s up in the air until you talk with the engineering team.
In other words, conditions aren’t something you can solve on the fly during a customer conversation, no matter how skilled you are. Conditions almost always require the involvement of other teams to help you solve a complex issue.
That’s true even if the issue is inside the customer’s org, not yours.
Say the customer loves your product and sees how it can help them. The only barrier to purchasing your product is that customer’s insufficient budget, which happens to be set in stone.
A creative payment structure could be the answer. That’s something you can craft with people on your end, but it also requires internal negotiations at your customer’s org.
You’ll be in the room for some of your buyer’s conversations about this, but sometimes you won’t be, especially if it’s for something as touchy as budget discussions. In those cases, you have to prepare your internal customer to act as your product champion, answering questions and offering explanations in your place. Now your job is two-fold: create a solution on your end to the conditional sales objection and prepare your champion to sell it on their end.
Looking for additional tips to ease your mind and boost your confidence when you tackle sales objections?
How about a step-by-step framework for managing objections as soon as they appear?
Consider it done.
These are the best objection handling techniques and skills.
It’s why sales objection handling is still one of the top sales skills.
Toughest one in the bunch.
Complacency means the buyer isn’t sold on the idea of buying your solution, or buying it from you, or buying it right now.
In other words, you may have an unqualified lead who should have been caught out earlier in the sales process.
If that’s true, don’t try to objection-handle this one — that’s simply not going to turn things around for this type of sales objection. If you have a complacent customer on your hands, it’s time to stop pushing the deal forward.
In fact, it’s time to rewind to an earlier part of the sales process and work on building urgency into your buyer’s mindset. You’ll want to show them that their status quo is dangerous and unsustainable, and that they need a solution — your solution — now.
If they’re resistant to buying, it may be because they don’t understand the urgency of their situation and the poor forecast ahead if they stick with the status quo. Once you show them the trouble with their current way of operating, your product will hold much more appeal as a way to improve their circumstances.
Get them back on track by focusing on the pain they experience instead of the benefit or value of buying your solution.
This is different from how reps conduct most sales pitches.
Usually, reps focus on where teams want to go. But with a complacent customer, you need to focus on getting them uncomfortable with where they are now — their point A —before you nudge them toward a future state — point B.
Talk about how their market has traditionally behaved, then point to major (or minor) changes that are shaking things up. Explain why their MO won’t work under these new conditions.
Let them feel the ground shifting beneath their feet. Nothing creates urgency faster than realizing sales are about to hit a wall.
Once you have them there, continue with your regular sales process. Eventually you’ll get to their sales objections, but this time, they’ll be easier to tackle.
Ready Or Not, Here They Come.
Fact: Sales objections hit every rep, even the best in the world. What matters is whether they’re trained up and skilled enough to handle them.
Luckily, you read this article and know how to handle the main types of sales objections.
Our guess is that if you’re still thinking about them, you’re haunted by the world’s toughest objection, complacency. That one requires a little more time and coaching with your team.
If you’re worried about it, your best bet is revisiting the basics of sales calls with your reps to weed out those types of deals in the first place. They can really derail your forecast, and you should do what you can to avoid them.
If your reps do their jobs well on cold calls and in discovery and demos, they shouldn’t end up with complacent buyers in the second half of the sales cycle.
Sounds like a good time to look over call scripts, n’est-ce pas? Catch these 3 Money-Making Sales Call Scripts for free.
With those in place and your newfound objection-handling techniques at the ready, your reps will be rounding the home stretch on even the most difficult deals in no time.