You’ve probably heard some version of these objections during your time in sales. Even if you prepared at length, nailed the pitch, and were anticipating success, things don’t always go as planned.
So, what could have gone wrong? Well, a number of things.
Sales involve two or more parties who enter the interaction with their own agenda, reservations, preconceived notions, and sensitivities. To learn how to overcome objections, you first need to understand what the objection is rooted in.
How to overcome objections: Step by Step
Often, our first instinct when we hear an objection is to go on the defensive. The key understanding to take away here, however, is that an objection is not necessarily a rejection. An objection is a call to clarify a misunderstanding, to find common ground.
A sales objection indicates that:
- The buyer is interested.
- The buyer isn’t convinced that what you’re offering is right for their needs at this time.
What is causing the buyer to hesitate? Uncovering this will be the most important part of your response to objections.
Step 1: Clarify the objection
Whether there is one objection or multiple, be sure to really understand the buyer’s perspective.
What they state as their objection might not even be their real objection. While a buyer might tell you that your product is too expensive, they might really be concerned about its performance, adaptability, or compatibility with their business.
This is why you need to:
- Ask questions, lots of them. The idea is to hone in on and isolate the core objections. You want the buyer to state, “I can’t work with you because of x, y, and z.”
- Make sure that the client feels heard. Use words they’ve said and turn them into a question. For example, “If I understand correctly, you think that our strategy will cause you to let go of employees?”
- Ask what their desired outcome is. This will allow you to see where you fit into it.
- Listen thoroughly. Take notes and whatever you do, do not give in to the urge to respond straightaway or rush into an answer.
Step 2: Level the relationship
With a sales pitch, the balance of an equal communication is immediately thrown off.
You are in the position of asking for something and they are in the position of giving something, i.e. control, money, and so on. This puts you in the position of an “aggressor” of sorts, which can cause the potential client to take a defensive stance.
To correct this innate imbalance:
- Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes and stay there until you understand where they are coming from.
- Affirm their objection. Explain to the client that their objection makes sense to you.
Step 3: Respond to all parts of the objection
Once you are certain you understand the client wholly, you can respond to their inquiries. The most important rule of this step is to always respond from a place from understanding. Becoming combative rather than sympathetic is the fastest way to lose a potential buyer.
When answering an objection, remember to:
- Respond to all of their questions and problems. Even if you don’t agree with them, don’t gloss over them.
- Give examples. Tell them about clients who had similar qualms who ended up purchasing your product and succeeding with it.
- Make things simple. Break down the process of using your product into smaller pieces and walk them through it step-by-step.
- Do not mention pricing first or last. Psychological research suggests that people often make decisions based on the first piece of information they’ve received and that the last thing they hear is often the most memorable.
- Always come from a place of honesty. Be proud of overcoming hurdles. They will appreciate your honesty more than a pretence of perfection.
Step 4: Find common ground
If all has gone well in the previous steps, finding mutual understanding with a buyer should seal the deal.
When navigating this final step, be sure to:
- Compromise when needed. Keeping a client is more important than sticking to a plan.
- Let them test the waters. Offer a situation in which they can try out your services without committing fully.
- Communicate. Ask for a follow-up meeting with all the decision-makers.
Your aim when overcoming sales objections is to put yourself in the position of a diplomat rather than a salesperson.
An objection is an invitation to a constructive conversation—don’t let that invitation go to waste. Use this opportunity to develop your relationship with a potential client and open the door to future collaboration.