Handling sales objections in a way that drives opportunities.

*Handling sales objections is an important part of the “How to set up your Startup B2B Sales Process in 3 weeks” series.

 

When you are in sales, objections are a big part of your life. In order to be successful in handling objections, you need to first get your mindset straight. There’s a saying “Objections are not rejections. They are simply an invitation to talk.” remember that the next time a prospect tells you “this is not the best time” or “send me more information”. 

Once you get your mindset straight you need to focus on building a common objections list and how to handle them. This list should be reviewed and updated on a weekly/monthly basis.

 

Before we go to the topic of building a list of objections and how to handle them I’d like to share some best practices from a training I attended a while ago on objections. They really work!

  • The 95/5 RULE. 95% of the objections that a prospect gives you are “Shallow” not the true reason. For example, a few common objections are “It’s not a good time”, “We don’t have a budget”, “I’m running for a meeting”, “Send me an e-mail”. The actual reason and objection they are giving you is “I don’t want to talk with a salesperson/a person I don’t know and just need to get off the phone in a polite way”
  • A standard counter, when given these objections, is “When is a better time to call?”, “Well, people usually don’t have a budget as we are in category creation”, “What should I include in that email” etc.
  • These COUNTERS don’t work because we are not countering the real objection!
  • How to know when the objection is not “Shallow” – actually if the prospect is giving you more details. Like “We don’t have a budget. We’ve had to lay off 150 people and cutting corners wherever possible” instead of just “We don’t have a budget”.
  • When countering objections you must at all times avoid the child EGO STATE. Don’t go directly to the counter, try to build more accountability and use an adult EGO STATE.
  • Go for the OBJECTION -> PATTERN INTERRUPT -> ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM -> EMPATHY -> PROSPECT Pact (Commitment, Agenda, Outcome, Consent) Example:
    • Prospect: “We don’t have a budget”
    • You: Can I level with you? I’ve been hearing “We don’t have a budget” a lot. I’m getting the feeling that’s just a polite way of saying “Go away you annoying sales rep!” – Did I get that right?
    • Prospect: Well, yeah. You got me there.
    • You: I get it, I say the same when I get cold-called out of the blue. How about this? – you give me the next 20 seconds to try one last time to show you who (YOUR COMPANY NAME) is, and why I thought we MIGHT be a good fit for you and your team at (THEIR COMPANY NAME). At the end of these 20 seconds, YOU tell ME whether or not it makes sense to continue the conversation from there. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

 

 

Common sales objections

Ok. Let’s talk about the list of common sales objections that you should know how to handle in any situation. As a general rule what you can do to handle an objection is to empathize and relate with your prospects.

 

“I’m not interested”

Usually, we hear that objection very early in a conversation. It’s an automatic defensive mechanism that prospects usually have in order to blow us off quickly. 

Use a pattern interrupt like “Can I be frank? Often when I hear such a response that’s because of a number of reasons from the person being just fed up with salespeople to having other priorities. Am I reading that right?” In this part, you’re empathizing with them by showing them you understand them. 

Now comes the related part: “How about this? – give me the next 30 seconds so I can tell you how customer XYZ who told me the same “I’m not interested” is now happily working with us and sees ABC result. After that, if you’re still not interested we both go our separate ways no hard feelings?”

 

“Send me more information”

Usually, that objection is a polite way to make you leave them alone. You send them information and you never hear back from your prospect. 

Instead first empathize: “Look, I understand that you’re busy or simply looking to make me leave you alone. It’s tiring to have people you don’t know ask for your time while you have priorities to tend to.”

Next relate:” If you’re serious about learning about our product/service how about we spend the next 30 seconds so I can give you a specific example of why I think it’s relevant to spend 15 min with us and after that time if you’re still not willing to talk further we can call it a day?”

 

“I need to speak with my boss first”

While this can be a legit objection more often than not it’s a tactic to stall.

The best thing you can do is not to challenge the stall but rather say something like:
“I understand. That’s completely normal. Let me ask you if your boss gives you the go-ahead what would you do?” “We are offering a free trial. While you talk with your boss would it help to also see the platform and have a more productive conversation internally?

This way you’re lowering the barrier to entry for your prospect and engaging them not only in a conversation but also really feel your product. If you’re offering a service think about suggesting a free 1 hr audit or something similar to get them involved.

 

“I don’t see the need for your services/product”

This one is tricky. Many salespeople will consider this a clear disqualification but if the objection comes too early in the conversation it might not be so real. That is why you need to help them see the relevance. Try saying something like this: “I completely understand that there might not be a fit. The reason I think we should at least explore this further is the fact that {Industry} has seen some change lately. That was the main reason why {Similar company to prospect} decided to sign with us and are now happily reaping the benefits like XYZ”. If you are facing similar challenges wouldn’t you like to at least spend 15 minutes to really make sure there’s no fit?”

 

“It’s too expensive”

More often than not when a prospect has an objection to the price it’s really not the main issue. Usually, there’s something deeper and unsaid. First, make sure that the issue is really the price. How can you do that?- here’s an example: “Let’s say money was not a problem. Would our product/service help solve your problem? Is price the only thing that’s keeping you from signing?”

Then if you’re convinced the price is the objection that’s great, because that indicates that your prospect is really interested in your product/service. What you can do best in this situation is to make the conversion from a talk about the price to a conversation about the value they will receive. Give them an example of the ROI that other customers are having and try to make an example ROI calculation for your prospect.

 

“We already work with a competitor”

That’s one of the tough sales objections. Every salesperson has received that objection more than they would like to say. The best approach here is to:
– Empathize: “ I get it that you’re working with someone else. Probably you’re quite happy with them if you’re referring to them in this conversation. Right?”
– Relate: “As a business owner you probably like to be sure that you’re getting the most value for your money. If that’s true for you would it help to have a short conversation just so you can benchmark what you’re currently receiving? In case it doesn’t make sense to talk further afterward I’ll leave you alone. How does that sound?

By doing things this way you would be able to identify cracks in your competitor’s offering and find a way in with your prospect.

 

Natural resistance to salespeople

Nowadays business owners receive anywhere between 50 and 500 sales pitches over multiple channels. That builds tension and resistance which makes them hate salespeople and being sold. How do we handle such behavior?

Try to make it clear that this is not a meeting about presenting features but rather a conversation about how a problem they are having can be solved. Lead with information and insights that they can learn. This way even if they don’t decide to move forward they are getting something for the decision to spend time with you.

Here’s a short example:

“I realize that the worst thing I can be doing right now is asking for time. That’s why I can really commit to the fact that during our meeting I’m not going to try to sell you anything. I’ll just demonstrate some of the reasons why other businesses such as yours are using this product. After that, you can decide if it’s applicable to you or not. You be the judge. Sounds fair?”

This is the last part of our Sales Acceleration Program series. Check here the list with all of the articles to understand How to set up your Startup B2B Sales in just 3 weeks!

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