We have reviewed how to identify sales objections and separate out true concerns from the smoke screens used by disinterested buyers. We reviewed the types of sales objections we encounter in the sales process. And we reviewed the best time to overcome common sales objections. So now it’s time to look at overcoming objections in sales through our responses.
Coach Your People to Separate Put-offs from Genuine Buyer’s Objections
Let’s start by reviewing an example of what doesn’t work. In an in-house consultation session, one of the sales reps asked me the following question:
“My prospects keep blowing me off before I can present my services. If I can get in front of them, I know I can sell them. How do I get them to stop blowing me off?”
Many sales reps often mistakenly identify put-offs for true buyer’s objections. In a put-off, recognize that the prospect is voicing opposition to your sales reps before they can perform a diagnostic session. The prospects are either indifferent to what your salespeople have to offer, or their prospects are preoccupied with something else. When your salespeople encounter situations like this, they need to loop back in the sales process, get their buyer’s attention, and then get their interest in solving an issue before moving forward in the sales process. Overcoming this challenge requires a different process. A process we covered in the Seven Steps to Resolving Objections.
Need more instruction on navigating these hurdles? Download your copy of Seven Steps to Resolving Objections here.
Now, there comes a point in the sales process where your sales reps have their prospects’ attention. Their buyers view your people as a trusted resource. And your people have determined that their prospects have a need and the ability to buy. So when the sales process stalls, your people need to have enough credibility to help their prospects identify the real concern. And they need to be able to respond to those concerns effectively.
How to Overcome Objections in Sales Using These Four Tactical Responses
Here are four basic yet powerful ways to respond when overcoming objections in sales:
When you are coaching your salespeople, remember that these response methods are tactical processes. They won’t give you specifics on addressing the common sales objections your salespeople will encounter. But they will give your people processes on how to handle sales objections within the framework of the sales methodology, the business situation, and their buyers. For example, it may make sense for your salesperson to refute a common financial or price objection with one of their buyers while reversing the same, or a similar objection with a different prospect. These four methods of responding give your salespeople flexibility on how to best present solutions when they handle sales objections within the context of the business situation.
With that, let’s look at each one and give you a better idea on how to coach your team.
1. Overcoming Objections in Sales by Refuting Their Legitimacy
If the buyer has misinformation or is operating from fear, uncertainty, and doubt, then it’s best to overcome the sales objection by setting the record straight. However, flat out denial or stating that the buyer is wrong is a quick way to validate the falsehood in the buyer’s mind. Your buyers will quickly become more entrenched in their thinking. So, you will need to cushion a response before invalidating the falsehood. Often, you can weaken this type of objection simply by asking more probing questions. “When you say our delivery times are terrible, how do you mean specifically?” Or, “How did you hear that we have terrible delivery times?” Asking probing, open ended questions will give you more information before you lay out your supporting facts to rebuff the objection.
When addressing their claim, avoid confrontational statements like, “That’s not true.” Instead, cushion with a neutral statement, like “I can appreciate your concern…” Then, follow up with an example of how your delivery times have helped another client meet their goals. Or quote statistics comparing your delivery times against the industry. The point here is to recognize that everyone has their own beliefs and opinions. Stating “you’re wrong” in any way quickly builds walls, and you need to build bridges.
2. Overcoming Objections in Sales by Acknowledging the Issue and Highlighting the Resulting Improvements
Let’s say your buyer is putting up an objection that is based on some factual knowledge of your company. Your best course of action is to admit it quickly and emphatically. Then show how you have resolved, or plan to resolve the issue. Again, use a cushion to acknowledge that you heard them. Then, use evidence to show you have addressed the challenge, or how the issue won’t impact their application.
In one of my small group sessions, I had a salesperson who succeeded in landing a large account, something his predecessors had failed to do. What was the difference that allowed him to succeed? All his predecessors refused to acknowledge a problem that the buyer kept bringing up. However, he met with the client, acknowledged that the buyer’s concern was legitimate, and outlined his plan to address the concern. He was the one who walked away with a $50K equipment order.
3. Overcome Sales Objections by Reversing Them
Sometimes, the objection can be the very reason to move forward with the sale. You simply have to know how to re-frame the objection from a different perspective. This is often the case when clients bring up price objections. If price is a concern, help your buyer compare the one-time cost of your solution with the lifetime cost of not implementing it. Doing that will help them gain a better picture of the value you bring to the table and the true price of not moving forward.
Alternatively, you can show the revenue-generating potential of your solution. Then, compare that against the lost income potential for delaying implementation of your solution. The stark comparison will help motivate them to take swift action.
As shown above, to reverse an objection, review the big picture and understand the long-term or global impact your solution will have on their organization. Typically, your buyer is looking at your products or services through a limited and narrow lens. By expanding their perspective and showing the long term impact of your solution, you can help them see the reason they’re holding back is exactly the reason they should move forward.
4. Overcome Sales Objections by Explaining The Solution
If you’ve determined that your buyer’s objection is a legitimate concern, use the information gathered to directly address the issue. You’ve already performed an in-depth analysis of their application. and you have created a solution that everyone agrees would be a good fit for the buyer’s environment. So, if the buyer raises an objection indicating they don’t understand your solution, or they can’t see how your products or services will solve a particular challenge, rearrange the information into a more suitable form. Naturally, you will want to use all the evidence you have amassed to highlight how your solution is a good fit. In most cases, using an analogy will help your buyers better understand how your products or services can address their situation.
Here’s an example to give you some idea of what this looks like. My director of technology tells of several sales situations back when he was a systems engineer for a storage company. He said anytime he and his salespeople went on a sales call and presented their products and services to a group of decision-makers, the decision-makers had some sort of technical background. So, when his team would present their tape backup solution, the decision-makers understood terms like data capacity, throughput, and bandwidth. But on a few occasions, they presented to an audience that included a couple of financial people. It was important to get these financial people on board, but they were always skeptical and raised money concerns such as “your solution is too pricey” or “do we really need this.”
Making the Explanation Easy to Mentally Digest
However, he said that when their team started comparing the backup process to draining a cup using a straw and their solution was the equivalent of lashing a bunch of straws together to drain the cup faster and save time, the financial people got it. They didn’t object because they had misinformation or even legitimate concerns about the solution. They objected because they didn’t understand what my tech director and his salespeople were presenting. But once his salespeople explained the solution to the financial people in everyday terms that were easy to mentally digest, their solution made sense and the price objections vanished.
As a matter of fact, your salespeople will most likely need to explain their solution, products or services even if they start with refuting, acknowledging, or reversing the objection. At some point, they will have to obtain clarity when overcoming the sales objection. I often tell participants in my training sessions that as salespeople, our job is to act like a big bottle of Windex. We have to make everything clear to our buyers during the sales conversation so they can see a path forward in the sales process.
An Objection is a Sign of Interest
Overcoming objections in sales is a natural part of the negotiation process. For the truly engaged buyer, the common sales objections your people encounter are actually signs of interest. Their prospects are trying to apply the solutions your people are offering to their business environment.
But remember that all obstacles your people encounter won’t be real buyer objections. Also, out of all of the objections they do encounter, some won’t be the real reason the buyer is holding back. Coach your salespeople to use the steps outlined in the sales brief below to identify the real objections. Then, coach them to handle the objections using their communication skills and one of the four methods listed above. This will allow your salespeople to effectively address the real issues and move the sale process to completion.