With millennials making up 75% of the workforce by 2025, it’s time for organizations to rethink how they are preparing them for success.
Nobody likes being told “no.” But for anyone in the sales profession, handling buyer objections is a fact of life.
Sales objections come in many different forms. Buyers all have distinct challenges, business needs and long-term goals, which means sellers must adapt to their questions, concerns and refusals accordingly. And because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing objections, coming up with an effective response on the fly is extremely difficult without the right sales training and coaching.
That said, some objections are much more common than others. Case in point: 35% of salespeople consider pricing objections to be the biggest challenge they face, according to Hubspot research.
Knowing the value of having an always-ready sales force, we at Brainshark decided to compile thoughts, opinions and tactics from the experts on how to handle common sales objections. Enjoy!
8 Tips for Handling Sales Objections
- Prepare the right way
- Master your emotions
- No sales objections, no engagement
- Be upfront about pricing
- Only push a busy prospect so far
- Learn from your mistakes
- Ask for specifics
- Leverage success stories
1. Prepare the Right Way
Jim Ninivaggi, Chief Readiness Officer, Brainshark (@JNinivaggi)
Ninivaggi is among those who see sales objections as valuable, because they give reps a glimpse into the buyer’s mind and an opportunity to ask questions. Reps should pause, ask a poignant question that helps uncover the buyer’s pain points, confirm the need and then satisfy it, he says.
“The biggest mistake I see organizations make when it comes to managing objections is that they lump objections into one big category. And they handle objections as obstacles,” Ninivaggi says.
An effective sales readiness strategy is also indispensable when preparing reps to handle common objections, because it prevent reps from engaging buyers before they’re truly ready to sell. And the cost of an unprepared sales force can be great, including missed deal opportunities to damaged customer relationships and – if the rep struggles to the point of burn-out – turnover.
On top of training reps on objection-handling, sales organizations should reinforce the message to ensure it sticks. Consider creating video coaching activities for reps, asking them to respond to your most common objections, and then have their managers oprovide feedback on how the sellers could better handle such scenarios.
Download our eBook, “The 4 Pillars of Sales Readiness,” to learn more about the goals and benefits of a comprehensive readiness framework.
2. Master Your Emotions
Jeb Blount, CEO, Sales Gravy (@SalesGravy)
Blount, who recently published an entire book dedicated to handling objections, calls dealing with them “one of the most difficult aspects of mastering sales.” The reason for this, he says, is because salespeople tend to create objections through their own behavior.
Blount’s first piece of advice: relax. Salespeople need to learn how to manage their internal responses to objections – which he says are often triggered by a fear of rejection (or the potential for rejection).
“In every sales conversation, whenever you face an objection, the human being that exerts the greatest amount of emotional control is going to have the highest probability of getting the outcome they want – which for a salesperson is getting past ‘no’ and getting to ‘yes,’” Blount says. “It all begins with your ability to manage your emotions and reduce resistance.”
Watch more: 4 Keys to Overcoming Sales Objections
3. No Sales Objections, No Engagement
David Brock, President and CEO, Partners in Excellence (@davidabrock)
Brock believes sales reps should welcome objections as “an expression of engagement” from the buyer. If sellers have not created an environment where the buyer is comfortable raising questions or concerns, he posits, then they risk missing a key chance to connect with their prospects.
In addition, Brock finds that 98% of objections fall into one of three categories:
- Sales misunderstanding of the customer’s challenges and priorities
- Customers misunderstanding of sales’ messaging around a solution
- A significant difference of opinion between the two sides
“In selling or working with our colleagues we will misunderstand (and) we will disagree,” Brock writes. “But it’s the process of exploring these, aligning our views and goals, that enables us to engage customers deeply on things important to them. It maximizes our ability to create value with them.”
Read more: Embracing Objections
4. Be Upfront About Pricing
Colleen Francis, Owner, Engage Selling Solutions (@EngageColleen)
Remember how many salespeople struggle with pricing objections? (It’s more than 1/3 of them by Hubspot’s count.) They’re highly difficult, and for good reason: it’s the buyer’s duty to negotiate the best deal for his or her business.
When it comes to handling these objections, Francis says sales reps need to respect the client’s prerogative to question pricing and determine whether the two sides can bridge the existing gap in perceived value.
“The worst thing we can do is to try to justify our position or defend our prices… Instead, the very best sales people look their clients square in the eye and say, ‘you're right; our prices aren't the lowest in the market. How much too high are we?’” Francis writes.
5. Only Push a "Busy" Prospect So Far
Anthony Iannarino, Keynote Speaker, Author and Sales Strategist (@iannarino)
“There’s just too much going on right now” is an all-too-common objection, and one that often stems from the buyer’s fear of wasting time. The solution, according to Iannarino, is to empathize with clients’ concerns and reassure them of the value in meeting.
However, some prospects won’t be so easily swayed. They may need more time to see the value in your relationship, or to evaluate other options. Whatever the case, Iannarino suggests following the “two objection rule,” whereby reps should make no more than two attempts to resolve a buyer’s doubt – lest they ruin a potential relationship.
“You can’t put your desire for an appointment above the relationship,” Iannarino writes. “It takes a long time to build relationships, and you do that by nurturing them. You can destroy all that you’ve worked to build in just a few minutes.”
Read more: The Two Objections Rule
6. Learn from Past Sales Objections
Dan Thompson, VP Sales – East, Dialpad (@dethomps8069)
Conventional sales advice typically focuses on reacting to objections appropriately. The past, however, can be a useful tool in anticipating the most frequent buyer concerns and preemptively formulating responses for each of them.
That’s why Thompson suggests sales reps learn from their losses by reviewing lost opportunities and looking for common trends. Specifically, he says to determine which objections were most frequent, which ones were deal-breakers, and which ones will require further product development.
“Use these insights to create a “cheat sheet” of common objections and craft 2-3 potential responses for each. Test them out and revisit them often,” Thompson writes.
7. Ask for Specifics
Keenan, CEO/President, A Sales Guy (@keenan)
It’s not uncommon for buyers to define their objections in vague terms. Salespeople, however, require details to adequately address their prospects’ needs. So how do you take the client’s perspective and use it to move the conversation forward?
Keenan says sales reps need to make sure buyers provide specific numbers and criteria, and often that means asking for clarity.
“Too slow for you can be too fast for them. Too expensive to them can be cheap to you. More for them can be not enough for you. We all have our own expectations and definitions, and assuming they align is just plain foolish," Keenan writes.
Read more: How to Decode Prospects’ Objections
8. Leverage Success Stories
Daryl Spreiter, Vice President, Global Enablement, Salesforce.org (@dspreiter)
Although objections can arise for many different reasons, Spreiter offers six different tactics for overcoming some of the most common ones.
Spreiter’s first two approaches are simply to show gratitude and empathy. By saying “thank you,” or by acknowledging that the point of contact may only be a messenger instead of the true decision-maker, sellers can quickly diffuse any situation, forge better relationships with buyers and get the conversation back on track.
He also emphasizes the value of incorporating proof into objection-handling techniques. “I challenge everyone I mentor to learn at least 3 new and relevant customer stories a month,” Spreiter writes. “Over time, your stories will set you apart from others and give your customers another reason to trust you with their business.”