I’m over objections.
Like most salespeople, I have been on the receiving end of all different kinds of objections from customers & prospects.
There is something defeating about an objection. Perhaps it is the fact that in many cases, you know your solution can help. Or maybe that there is a consistency in the objections you receive from almost any decision maker, regardless of their role, industry, or where they are based in the world.
“We don’t have the budget right now”, “We have an existing partner”, “We don’t have a need for your solution”, “Let’s revisit this next quarter”.
Don’t get me wrong. Decision makers are very busy people. Objections are often 100% legitimate, and in many cases, ‘revisiting this next quarter’ will eventually lead to a sale. But just as often, objections are used as convenient excuses by decision makers to brush off salespeople.
Who can blame them? Decision makers are flooded with proposals, cold calls, and sales pitches every day of the year. Objections are the result of a decision maker simply not seeing the value in devoting their time and resources to exploring your solution. Whether the objection is legitimate or just a convenient excuse, responsibility sits with the salesperson to prove why exploring their solution is worth the decision maker’s time.
There are a growing number of strategies for managing objections. There are hundreds of articles out there that give great suggestions around how to respond to objections and adjust your ‘ask’ to something more palatable for your customer or prospect - thus giving you the opportunity to engage with them again and hopefully pique their interest in your solution.
These are valuable tools to have in your sales toolkit, but the real goal should be to eliminate objections before they ever come up.
Sales reps hear all kinds of objections for a number of different reasons. But in my experience, objections fall into 4 main categories: Price, Relationship, Need, and Urgency.
Price - “We don’t have the budget right now”
On the surface, this objection is simple - customers don’t have unlimited budgets. It may very well be the case that the purchase of a new solution just doesn’t fit the budget for this year. Or even if they have the budget, this objection can be used as a tactic to negotiate a better price.
On a deeper level, price objections are all about risk management. The Decision Maker needs to ask themselves if the dollars they spend on your solution could be better spent elsewhere.
Relationship (or lack thereof) - “We have an existing partner”
Your relationship with your customer or prospect is a key element in any sale. The absence of a relationship makes it that much easier for a decision maker to object to exploring your solution.
Decision makers need to be confident that your solution will solve their problem and in your company’s ability to deliver. That confidence is directly tied to the quality of the relationship you have built with your customer or prospect.
Need - “We don’t have a need for your solution”
Not every prospect needs your solution. Not every existing customer needs to upgrade to your premium product. But need objections often relate to the buyer's perception of your product.
Decision makers need to understand how your solution will solve a problem and deliver value. If this is not apparent, or if they perceive your solution as only being able to deliver a partial solution or marginal value, there is little motivation to explore your solution.
Urgency - “Let’s revisit this next quarter”
Urgency objections are tough ones. Your customer hasn’t said ‘no’, but there is also zero chance of you making a sale in the near future. Urgency objections are passive, but make no mistake they are still objections.
Decision makers need to see the value in exploring your solution. When a buyer puts off exploring your solution until an undetermined time in the future, they are telling you that they don’t see your solution as a priority. Sure it’s possible their priorities will change, but if they don’t see enough value now, they may not see the value in the future.
So how do we go about eliminating objections?
It's all about preparation. I don’t just mean being prepared to respond to objections, as I mentioned in the introductions there are hundreds of articles out there that can help you with that. I mean eliminating potential objections before they ever come up.
As we have discussed, there is a consistency in the objections that sales people hear from customers and prospects.
Before you ever walk into a meeting, you have a pretty good idea of the objections you might receive. Therefore you have the opportunity to tailor your approach, presentation materials, and your question strategy to directly address these objections.
Pushing Through Price Objections
Price objections are often about risk management. What is the customer’s cost of deploying your solution versus not taking any action at all?
Mitigating this objection starts with developing a strong understanding of your customer’s challenges. Early in your sales process, you need to make sure you are taking the time to understand your customer’s pain points and goals. This needs to happen before you even think about presenting a solution.
In your Discovery Session, ask open-ended questions about your customer’s challenges, the consequences of not resolving them, and the impact it will have on achieving their goals for the year.
Take this intelligence and use it to tailor your solution presentation. Present their pain points and the consequences of inaction as the status quo. Present your solution as the ‘promised land’. If your customer can envision a better future with your solution as the driver, price quickly goes out the window.
Build Relationships to Avoid Objections
Relationship objections are, obviously, based around the fact that a prospect doesn’t know you or your company. If you’re selling a new technology they might not even be familiar with your solution.
This plays on a number of psychological factors for your prospect, the primary being fear of the unknown. If you or your company are not a known entity, they will have a natural aversion to engaging with you and may even choose a competitor whose name they recognize, if given the option. As the unknown entity, you present a greater amount of risk.
Since we are exploring the psychology behind relationship objections, there is a technique you can use in your favor - the Mere Exposure Effect.
The Mere Exposure Effect is a simple idea. The more a prospect sees your name, your company, or your solution, the more open they will be to engaging with you. The more exposure you can generate, the more familiar you become.
Social Selling allows you to connect and build a relationship with a prospect long before you ever approach them to try to make a sale. Through this process you create ‘brand recognition’ for yourself and your company outside the context of a selling situation. Check out my article on Social Selling to get started.
No Need to Object
Need objections often relate to a prospect’s lack of knowledge around your solution. They either don’t see the value in your solution or they don’t see how it helps them solve their problem.
You need to focus on connecting the dots for your prospect. This starts with a thorough understanding of the prospect’s role / industry and an understanding of their pain points - information you should collect in your Discovery Sessions.
Case studies can play a big role in helping the prospect visualize how your solution works and how it can add value. Case studies can also help create a sense of FOMO, especially if you can share a case study that addresses one of their specific problems, aligns to their use case, or better yet, a case study based on one of their competitors.
Demonstrating your solution’s value in a real world context is a great way to help your prospect connect the dots and realize they may actually need your solution after all.
Know When To Walk Away
It is important to keep in mind that customer objections aren’t always excuses to brush you off. You need to be able to identify when an opportunity exists, despite an objection, and one doesn’t. As soon as it becomes apparent that an opportunity doesn’t exist, it’s time to walk away.
This can be difficult to judge, but if you have eliminated the main objections through proper preparation, you will be in a better place to understand whether an opportunity does or doesn’t exist. This process helps you get to the crux of the matter and gain a better understanding of your customer or prospect’s situation. Thereby putting yourself in a great position if your customer’s situation changes in the future.
Be sure to always leave a sales engagement on good terms, but the quicker you can identify when an opportunity doesn’t exist, the more time you can focus on opportunities that do exist.
Unfortunately there is no easy solution or quick fix when it comes to managing objections. They are an inevitable part of any sales process and probably will be forever. But through knowledge and preparation, sellers can take tangible steps to eliminate objections before they ever come up and build better customer relationships in the process.