Sales objections are the reasons why your prospects can’t or won’t buy your product or service. Maybe they don’t have room for your product in their budget. Some prospects will tell you they don’t need your product. Others will say they don’t trust your company. These are just a few of the most common objections salespeople come across.
But you can’t afford to give up on a potential sale so quickly.
It’s your job to reframe the perspective of your potential customer.
The objection gives you a critical insight into the exact pain point you need to overcome. The best salespeople see objections as a positive opportunity to tailor their pitch and zero in on the factors that will make or break the deal.
There are almost always ways to address your prospect’s concerns if you approach the objection in the right way.
On the flipside, certain objections can act as an effective lead qualification tool for your sales team. They allow you to weed out the low-value leads early and can help to build trust in hard to close prospects.
In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to overcome objections in sales, especially the most common, including:
- Price: If price is the objection, you might need to better qualify your leads. However, smart sales pro’s know how budget doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker.
- Time: This objection will test your sales skills, especially on the phone. Your relationship management and conversational prowess is vital.
- Competition: If the lead is using a competitor, it means they have a need for your product. Now it’s your job to prove your product is a better option.
- Trust: If you’re a new company, make sure you have some testimonials ready. Buyers want to see a solid track record. Your empathy is just as important.
- Change: When the lead is reluctant to switch, you need to show them the benefits and highlight what that means for their business.
- Authority: Make sure from the start that you’re dealing with a decision-maker. Don’t allow anyone else to deliver your pitch to the final buyer.
- Need: If the prospect thinks they don’t need your product, it’s up to your to reframe the conversation and change their perspective if you still think you can add value for them.
Read on to learn exactly how you can take advantage of all these sales objection solutions. But first, you need to know how to prepare for managing objections.
How to train reps to deal with sale objections
An objection in almost any part of life is an irritating, unwanted roadblock. In sales it’s the opposite.
An objection gives you a precious opportunity to understand your prospects’ struggles, target their specific needs and build stronger relationships.
A question or objection is a crystal clear insight into the pain point you can solve.
Most salespeople are selling similar products to similar audiences again and again and again. If you want to increase your efficiency and your conversion rate, it’s time to create an action plan for overcoming sales objections and get ahead of the curveballs you might have to face. Here’s how you do it...
Encourage proactive losing
What happens when an objection is valid?
Your solution isn’t for everyone, and not everyone is your ideal customer. Use common sales objections as a way to qualify leads in your pipeline. You need a process to help you find and drop the worst prospects quickly, so you can focus your efforts on those with the best chance of turning into an ideal customer.
As Napoleon Hill (author of Think and Grow Rich) said, “The best way to sell yourself to others is first to sell the others to yourself.”
By following this advice you'll find it far easier to maintain a clean sales pipeline and help your team focus without the fear of missing targets.
According to Lincoln Murphy’s Ideal Customer Profile Framework, your ideal customer is:
- Ready: they have a problem they need to solve
- Willing: they are ready to take action to solve that problem
- Able: they have the budget and authority to solve that problem
If your prospects hold these traits, handling their sales objections will help you identify them and tailor communications to their specific needs.
When your lead qualification process is humming, the nature of the objections you’re likely to encounter should be reasonably similar.
If your lead is not ready, willing and able, think about the situation in two ways:
- The customer’s perspective: will they really benefit from your product or service? Will it make a genuine difference to the business and bring better chances of success?
- Your company’s perspective: Will you benefit from having them as a customer? Will they happily keep paying for your offering or do you think, as a customer, this prospect would be more trouble than they are worth?
The best sales teams turn reactive losing into proactive losing.
Sales isn’t about tricking people into buying something they don’t need, won’t use or will regret. The sooner you match yourself up with an ideal lead and ditch a poor candidate, the better your conversion rates.
When objections lead your team to believe there isn’t a true fit between a prospect and your company, make sure to you reinforce this positive lead qualification decision.
Anticipating and preparing for objections
Merely hoping objections won’t happen is the worst plan for managing sales objections. When objections do come up (and they will), you have no plan in response.
And the best thing you can do?
Have a plan for any likely objection so you know exactly how to approach your response immediately.
There are many factors that influence sales objections. Different markets, product tiers, price ranges and decision-making authorities must be addressed when you are talking to prospects.
One way to do this is to make these specific objections part of your sales training program. You don’t have to overcomplicate things, you just need to be proactive in your preparation. Here’s a simple process you can work through over the next few days to futureproof your objection-handling.
- Write a list of the most common sales objections you hear every day
- Come up with a plan on how to debunk them
- Look at past lost opportunities, call transcripts and emails
- Prep a shortlist—you should end up with at least 10-20 of the most common
- Figure out why you couldn’t overcome the objection then, and what you should be doing differently in the future
- Develop an outline for a script any team member could use to overcome an objection with an effective and consistent message
Stay calm when overcoming objections in sales
A study by intelligence conversation platform Gong found sales reps who stay calm when they’re hit with sales objections are more successful in closing a prospect.
What does this mean for your sales team? Stay calm, take a breath and make sure your really listened to your prospect after being thrown an objection.
Successful sellers actually pause longer after objections than they do during ‘normal’ parts of the sales conversation. Instead of jumping into defense mode or trying to overwhelm the prospect with how good their product is, top performers slow down and show a sense of calm in the face of adversity.
Gong found average performers basically interrupted their customer and overwhelmed them with information when they were trying to overcome an objection.
Average performers tend to interrupt their prospect and overwhelm them with an onslaught of words per minute. Top performers don’t necessarily talk slower, they just maintain their pace and show their prospect a sense of calm:
How can you teach your team to stay calm in the face of an objection?
A good place to start is by having your sales reps make cold calls to each other in the office. This will teach them to make cold calls with more confidence. Plus, they can practice overcoming objections on a colleague rather than a real-life prospect.
Split your sales team up into pairs and have one rep call with speaker activated, while the other writes down constructive feedback for their partner.
Increase your sales stamina
How many different ways can you describe your product in a positive light?
To close a deal, you need sales stamina. This means developing an endless stream of ideas to help you sell your product to a customer. Remember that anger or aggression almost never works. Build up your stamina––you must maintain calm and demonstrate your empathy, especially when the prospect is playing hard to get.
If your sales team is struggling to come up with more than a handful of ways to sell a product, try pooling everyone’s ideas together. Gather your sales reps into a group and get them to list their descriptions and highlights of a product until they run out of ideas. Analyze what helped you close your most valuable deals and try to pinpoint the factors you can replicate.
Give your team feedback
Everybody needs feedback, and it’s important to continuously provide your team with guidance to improve and maintain their selling standards.
Because you’ve created a list of common objections for your team, you can create a practice of checking in with your team on a monthly basis. Don’t just set up a plan for overcoming common sales objections with your team without following through to ensure correct execution.
Ask them which objections they encountered in the last sales cycle and have them walk you through the outcomes. Give feedback and update your list with any new objections. Tweak the messaging in your templated responses to keep your team focused on improvements. This documentation can act as an invaluable training manual for your induction process in the future.
How to overcome the biggest objections in the sales world
Let’s get into the actual objections you’re hearing from prospects on a daily basis.
Whether it’s about budget or a need for your product, there are always ways to overcome an objection and close a deal.
Price: when budget is tight
The easiest way to avoid an objection about price is to make sure you are qualifying your leads properly.
If you believe the prospect truly is on a budget restriction and they aren’t close to affording the product, their objection may be genuine. It’s best to flag these prospects as a cold lead and not waste a lot of time trying to find an innovative way for them to afford a purchase.
Let them down easy, show that you still think they might find value in your solution in the future, then file them away in your CRM as a cold lead to contact later by saying:
“Thanks for letting me know. We don’t expect you to buy the product right now, but I would like the opportunity to share what we are doing and see if it’s valuable to your company. I’ll schedule a check-in with you later in the year.”
On the flipside, using price as an objection might mean your prospect does have the budget, but they simply aren’t convinced your product will bring them enough value to purchase.
When price or budget is raised as an objection from an already qualified lead, you have yourself a problem. Either you haven’t qualified your lead correctly (you should know by now whether they have enough funding) or perhaps your lead is trying to find a convenient excuse to cover their uncertainty.
If you’ve already determined that your lead does have sufficient budget during your lead qualification process, don’t be fooled when your prospect claims...
- “I don’t have enough budget”
- “It is too expensive”
- “I can find a cheaper alternative”
Be assertive and remind the lead of earlier discussions when they expressed their need and their budget.
You need to reframe the conversation to focus on value instead of cost.
Unless your lead has a drastically reduced budget, price is only a dealbreaker if you can’t convey that the value of your offering exceeds the price.
So how do you reconnect with the lead and reshape their perception of value? Figure out the root of the pricing issue. Tackle this by diving deeper into the objection by asking:
- “Are you currently using a solution in [your industry]? How much are you spending on it?”
- “You let me know earlier that you have a need in this area. ?”
- “I understand. Let me ask you: if price were not an issue on this, is this something you would move forward with today?”
Asking these questions will give you a better understanding of why pricing is an issue with your prospect. Once you get a clear picture of their situation, it will be easier to plan your next step.
Tell them that you understand their situation:
“Your concerns are very reasonable, I get it, it makes sense. I want to make sure you get a return with this offer.”
Let your prospect know that you’re invested with them on their journey. Guide them and tell them how you’re going to get them there with your product:
“I’ve seen huge successes with customers who have implemented [your solution]. These features are the reason [your client] just signed with us last month to achieve [goal one] and [goal two] and has seen substantial progress. Since you mentioned [goal one] and [goal two] as your challenges the last time we spoke, it would be great to talk to you about the added value these features offer your business.”
Talking about price can be touchy, so it’s best to not bring it up as one of the first points when talking to a prospect.
If you wait until you’ve already talked your prospect through your product and shown them how it can help their business before you mention price, they’re more likely to already be invested in purchasing it.
Once they see the benefits of your product, price is less likely to impact their buying decision.
Time: when workloads are heavy
The best way to handle an objection in sales is to work with your prospect to try and understand their buying time frame.
Versions of this objection include:
- “I need to think about it”
- “I won’t buy it now, but maybe next quarter”
- “Sorry, I’m busy right now, I will contact you later”
You may also be handed the brutal “I don’t have time to talk to you” line. Let’s break down each of these to understand the motive behind them and how to address them as they arise.
The “I need to think about it” objection
If a prospect needs to think about buying from you, it often means uncertainty about the value your solution can deliver. Don’t encourage this kind of ‘unsupervised thinking’. Instead, find out where the uncertainty lies.
Refer back to your previous conversations, re-establish common ground and offer to explain your offer in clearer terms. One way to do this is to respond with something such as:
“Sure, I get it. Based on what we talked about before, I understood that you’re particularly focused on (most important pain point). If you don’t mind me asking, what do you feel you need to think about most?”
A response like this can build stronger rapport with your prospect, as it demonstrates confidence in your solution.
If you covered your tracks during the qualification process, then this will be less a rejection and more an obstacle you’ll need to overcome to reach the sale. However, you may come across a hard stop for one of two reasons:
- The prospect needs approval or input from another stakeholder
- The sale involves a large investment or requires a huge amount of change
Get an idea of how the sale might progress by asking your prospect how they feel about your solution. Ask them if there’s something you can do to help them communicate the value with their bosses. Give them what they need, and empower them to reach their goals.
The “Let’s do next quarter” objection
This objection implies something needs to change in order to invest in and implement your solution.
Find out what has changed that has caused such a shift in priority. These can include shake-ups in internal organizational structure, a decision maker leaving the business or other business objectives taking priority.
To handle this objection, refer back to the conversations you had earlier in the sales process. Identify objective truths the prospect shared with you. Contrast this truth against the objection to illustrate the pain of not taking action. One way of doing this is as follows:
“You said before that (problem) was something that needs to be addressed. Does this mean you’re happy to “live with them,” or do you plan to deal with these problems on your own somehow? This will just help me understand more about your approach and how I can make sure we’re in a position to help you.”
Lead the prospect to a favorable conclusion. Don’t force it upon them, but also realize that this could be a “throwaway” objection to politely postpone the conversation. Ask the prospect “why next quarter” and, if they provide a legitimate response, use this to start a new line of dialogue.
The “Thanks so much, I will contact you later” objection
This objection is so vague that making assumptions might kill the sale. The best response to this provides clarity on the objection while demonstrating you’re honest and straightforward:
“No problem. Just one question before we wrap up, do you actually want to continue this conversation?”
This will encourage honesty, and elicit a direct response from your prospect. Ask them if they truly believe your solution can solve their problem. Express that an honest answer will help you serve the prospect effectively, or save you time. Good or bad, you need clarity here.
If the prospect shows some red flags against your qualification criteria, you can move on feeling confident that any extra time spent would be time wasted.
If you get a more positive response, you’ve shown that you mean business and you’ve established a more level playing field without pretences or vagaries.
The “Email me more information” objection
Every salesperson receives this objection early on in their career. And it can often be an excuse for the prospect to end the conversation.
Clarify the needs and challenges they raised during the conversation. Paraphrase what you talked about and focus on objective truths. Encourage the prospect to be honest with you.
If they’re asking questions about your solution, or things they need clarity on, this is usually a good sign. It gives you a second chance to give a clearer pitch that addresses these areas.
When receiving this objection during the discovery phase, you should take it at face value. Here, having a strong follow-up process will make sure the conversation continues.
There are two practical ways to respond depending on which phase of the buyer journey you encounter the objection:
- During discovery: “I’d be happy to, but I don’t want to burden your inbox with anything you don’t need. Can you let me know exactly what info you would like? It’s my job to explain things perfectly.“
- During the pitch: “Before I do that, can I ask what you need? I should have given you the info you needed before this point. What do you think I’ve missed out on?”
Finally, make sure you control the pitch at every touch point. If the information is going to be used to share with other decision makers, push for a sales meeting where you can run through your pitch or demo with those stakeholders present.
The “I don’t have time to talk right now” objection
It’s important to respect your prospect’s time. As a salesperson, a lack of empathy can burn any rapport you’ve established. If this happens during the prospecting or discovery phase, let them know you’ll try another time. However, make sure you agree on a specific time.
If you get a sense the prospect is frustrated, end the call as quickly as possible without pushing for another time. Simply make a note to call back another day.
When at the pitch or demo stage, a scheduled meeting will have been agreed by both parties in advance. If the prospect is late or something else has come up, don’t shorten the meeting. Your offer deserves the time it needs to deliver value to your prospect.
Need help phrasing this response? Here’s a template you can use when this objection arises:
“I totally understand that you’re busy and you don’t have the full time available for the meeting today, but I think it would be unprofessional of me to condense what I have planned. Let’s get a new time when you have the entire time slot available so we can go through the proposal in detail. It’s my responsibility to explain exactly what we can provide for you. When should we reschedule?”
If your prospect makes a habit of being too busy to take your call, it’s not a promising pattern. It suggests your prospect isn’t serious about your solution or the problem it solves.
Pipedrive’s Contacts Timeline can help your team gauge the history of their activities with a specific contact and enables salespeople to tackle objections in an informed and tailored way.
Competition: when they’re leaning towards someone else
It might not seem like it, but prospects objecting because they’re with a competitor is actually a great thing.
It means your prospect already understands the value of your solution, and they’re willing to invest in a product in your field.
Once you’ve figured out a prospect is hesitant to talk to you further because they’re with a competitor, you need to plan your next steps carefully.
The first thing to do is figure out the weaknesses of the competitor’s product, and pit them against the biggest strengths of yours.
You can then debunk their objection with something like:
- “I’m glad you’re already working with a provider, because I’m confident we can help you with [goal one] and [goal two] even more. What do your results look like so far?”
You might want to dive deeper into your prospect’s overall satisfaction with the competitor’s product, and see if you can spot any holes with their overall satisfaction:
- “Why did you choose this service? What is working well? What isn’t?”
- “How do you feel about being in a contract?”
Asking a prospect to break down exactly what it’s like working with your competitor can prompt them to think about aspects they don’t like that they might not have thought about before.
Be patient with this one and let the prospect think out their thoughts properly. Leaving them in an uncomfortable silence can prompt them to offer up a negative comment or concern.
Then, it’s time to start sewing the seeds of doubt in your prospect’s mind about whether or not your competitor really is the best provider for the service.
Paint a picture for the prospect of how their workflow will look and how it will change for the better when your product is involved.
Do this by:
- Highlighting the unique benefits your product has, that nobody else offers
- Mentioning a case study from someone who has switched to your product after using the competitor your prospect is currently with. Any data or ROI to back up this point will tip the scales in your favor
- Listing other businesses who are in the same field as your prospect who have used your product successfully
Unfortunately, dealing with this particular objection does have some barriers that are sometimes too large to overcome.
The two main reasons a prospect will be resistant to dropping your competitor and coming on board with you will revolve around contracts and training:
- Many companies, particularly in the SaaS space, will lock clients into contracts that last for months or years. If a prospect’s contract doesn’t end for another two years, it’s almost impossible to overcome this objection (unless you’re willing to buy them out)
- The prospect may be hesitant to switch to your service as they might have invested a lot of time, and therefore money, in training their staff how to use their current software or product
So, how do you tackle these objections?
You flag the prospect as a warm lead and create a follow-up plan (sales cadence):
Make a plan to follow up with the prospect either every month (or quarter) to touch base and see where they’re at with their business. It’s a great chance to keep your business and product at the top of the prospect’s mind, and you can use it as an excuse to give your prospect an update on any new features you’ve added to your product.
When they’re looking to switch up their product, who do you think they’re going to call? You!
Trust: when they’re skeptical about you
Sales objections around trust will be handed to you in different ways, from skepticism about how long you’ve been in business to your company’s reputation.
Your prospect might be concerned simply by the fact that the offer is coming from your company for a few different reasons.
Most of the time, the objection will look like this:
- “I don’t know if I’m prepared to commit to an investment just yet”
- “I’ve had a bad experience with your company before”
- “Your company is much smaller than [competitor]”
- “I’ve never heard of your company”
This is the time where your sales team must position your company in a positive light. After all, around nine in 10 adults prefer to buy from an established brand when purchasing financial services, medical care, or consumer electronics:
So, when a prospect throws up a trust objection, what they’re really saying is, they want more information and reassurance that your product is going to work for them.
After you hear a trust objection, take a deep breath and tell the prospect:
- “That’s completely valid. We’re a [type of company] that helps [target audience] do [outcome], and we’ve so far helped [customer one], [customer two] and [customer three] exceed their [another outcome].”
- “I’m really sorry you’ve had that experience. Good news is we’ve taken action and updated [product] in order to [outcome], so I’m confident you’d see a positive result with [offering] this time.”
The only way of defeating an objection about trust is to show your prospect that your product can get them real results. Pull out case studies and success stories from your current customers to show your prospect. These offer objective proof to your prospect that your product works.
If they’re objecting over email, have some links ready to the case studies on your website so you can send them over straight away.
Why trust is a tough barrier if you’re a startup
If you’re a startup company, overcoming a trust objection will be one of the toughest barriers you’ll come across with prospects.
You’re brand new and likely haven’t built up a backlog of shiny case studies. Then there’s the challenge that prospects have never heard of you before.
The SurveyMonkey study found brand trust plays a crucial role in a customer’s purchase decisions. Consumers would almost always choose to hand their money over to an established brand over a startup brand.
The best way to overcome this? Find early adopters who believe in what you believe. Whether that’s through a different way of doing things or through your content, focus on finding the people who align with why you’re in business in the first place.
Change: when they’re happy with the status quo
When it comes to change, your prospect might object to your product out of fear.
A sales objection around change can look like this:
- Your prospect may not be top dog in the company and they know that they will be held accountable for switching to a new product
- Your prospect is adamant they won’t be able to talk to other colleagues around to the product offering
- Your prospect is content with their old ways and is putting up a barrier to your offer
- Your prospect doubts how successful switching to your product will be
- Your prospect had issues with a switch before, so how would your offer be any different?
These are big sales objections to overcome, but talking your prospect around from their fear of change isn’t impossible. It just takes time and patience to hit the right nerve.
There are a few steps you can take to overcome a fear of change.
1. Take away any surprises with customer support
If you’re trying to bring a prospect on board who has shown a big fear of change, you need to assure them that your company’s customer support and training will be with them for anything they need.
Show your prospect your support will be top-notch—not only at the beginning of their contract, but right up until the end of it. Using customer testimonials about how great your customer support offering is will help you hammer home this point.
2. Show your prospect that you’ve helped others
Chances are, the prospect you’re trying to close isn’t the first for your company. Use your current client base to your advantage and show them off to your prospect. Let them see how happy your clients are working with your product.
Even if you’ve only managed to get a handful of customers to share their success stories with you, use these stories to show your prospect that a client saw their profit margins increase because your product helped them. Or, highlight how much time your product was able to save a company, so they could focus on more important tasks.
Whether you use a case study or a customer testimonial, make sure it highlights how using your product has helped the customer to reach their business goals.
If they don’t exist, talk to customer success or check your sales dashboards to find out if there are any customers who have managed to achieve more with your product.
3. Predict the impact your product will have on their business
Demonstrating value to your prospect is one of the best ways to get them to overcome their fear. If you can show them the possible savings they’ll get from using your product, or a projected increase in revenue, they’re going to start listening to what you have to say.
How do you make these projections? By using the groundwork you’ve already put into your prospect.
All the pre-call planning, face-to-face meetings and endless phone calls provide valuable insight into their business goals. Use it to project a future vision into their minds about where their company could be... with the help of your product.
Need: when they don’t see the value
If a prospect tells you that they don’t need your product, the only way to overcome the sales objection is by showing your prospect how much value you can add to their business.
Overcoming an objection in sales that’s about need stems back to our earlier point about the importance of qualifying your lead.
You might be hitting a wall if you hear:
- “I don’t need this solution”
- “My current supplier does what I need”
- “This is not a priority”
If you’ve already done the legwork and you’re sure this is the right lead for your solution, you’re either not playing towards their pain points and priorities, or you haven’t yet uncovered their real concerns and challenges.
A tough mountain to climb when it comes to prospect needs, especially with SaaS products, is overcoming the “is this just a nice thing to have?” question. A prospect needs to be sold on your product addressing an urgent need.
If your prospect has a genuine need for the product, selling them on it should be easy. The same model applies for higher priced products if your target prospect is a larger enterprise—if they see a need, they won’t blink at purchasing.
But what does matter is having your prospect viewing your product as a priority. When a customer’s needs move from “nice to have” to “must have,” their priority to purchase changes.
The way to get your prospect to fluctuate into the “must have” field is by helping them understand the impact your product will have on their pain point, at the right time.
If you take time to understand your prospect’s situation and keep in contact with them about how your product can solve their problems, you can push their need for your product into a priority. This is when your prospect will start to consider buying.
To do that, ask them questions like:
“If you could improve one thing about [challenge in their work that your solution covers], what would it be?”
- ”How have you tackled [challenge] so far? How much time/energy/resources does it generally take you to do that?”
Once you learn where they struggle, paint a picture of bridging that with your offering by going deep into the outcome of using your product or service.
Always instill a sense of urgency that their problem really does need to be fixed (pushing the priority focus) and your product is the best way to do help them do just that.
Overcoming sales objections isn’t impossible. In fact, sales objections open up doors to understanding your prospect more and learning about their pain points.
The more you learn about a prospect, the easier it is for you to build trust and show them that your product is there to help their business. By building a plan to tackle any common sales objections you come across, you’re already one step ahead when you’re faced with them on a pitch.
Start to think about sales objections in a different way and look at them as opportunities to:
- Make sure your leads are qualified and perfect for your solution
- Personalize all correspondence based on their concerns, history and experiences
- Build rapport and create a long-term customer relationship
Don’t just focus on overcoming the objection. Stay calm, stick to your plan and don’t be afraid to let leads go if they aren’t a good fit for your product.
With Pipedrive you can track the sales objections that your team encounters easily, by customizing the reasons that pop up when deals are lost. This will help give you insight on the objections your reps are facing most frequently, so you can tweak your sales process to tackle them.
Start your free 14-day trial of Pipedrive today.