If you’ve ever worked in sales, then you’ve no doubt come across the same sales objections time and again. It looks like you have a sale in the bag, but then the buyer puts up a barrier that halts your progress and undermines all your hard work.
We’ve all heard comments such as ‘I just don’t need this product right now’, or ‘I don’t think that your company is a good fit for us’. Rather than be stopped in your tracks by these sales objections, a good salesperson needs to demonstrate that they will not be deterred and can overcome these attitudes. This article will teach you how to effortlessly break through these barriers and generate sales in situations that had previously seemed lost.
B2B companies are especially sensitive to the Pareto Principle or the “80/20 rule”. A minority of their key accounts bring in the majority of their revenue. Software companies thrive on this LTV SaaS model where they get a small company using their service then watch the account grow as they help that business get bigger, hire more people, and onboard more paying users onto the service.
So you have to be strategic about which leads you pursue. In B2C, you just want as many people in the marketing funnel as possible. But you need to know that if you pick a specific company to reach out to, you have a good chance of selling them your product. To do that, the team needs to be able to handle common objections effortlessly.
Let’s look at eight common sales objections, and how you can deal with them quickly and move on to the discussions that make the sale.
“It’s not a problem we have”
One of the most common obstacles you face is companies that just don’t see the need for your product. They think they’re happy with what they have, and they’ll try to brush you off to get on with their day.
For example, if you’re selling functional testing automation tools, only the programmers are going to appreciate all the technical brilliance of the processes behind it. If you’re speaking to a manager, they’re only interested in how it’s going to benefit the company.
You have to focus on the end result first. Once you’ve got them interested, you can give them some of the bullet-point headlines on the process to take back to the team. The goal is to catch their interest as soon as possible to convince them it’s worth a short call.
If you’re getting this objection before you’ve had a chance to pitch them on your product, it’s a brush-off and you need to address it quickly. Ask them if you can give them a quick pitch so they can decide if it’s worth scheduling a call. You want to ask them to commit to as little as possible at this stage, so consider just offering to send them a Calendly link where they can book the call at whatever time suits them.
If you’re getting this after you’ve pitched them and asked a few qualifying questions, it might be that they don’t yet understand the value of what you’re proposing. At this point, you should emphasize the value of seeing a demo of your product.
In the same way, you might talk about social proof, mention how impressed previous customers have been when they see the software. If one of those customers happens to be a company your prospect would know about, even better.
“Call me back next…”
Often you’ll hear some interest from the buyer, maybe just acknowledging the strengths of your product, but there’s not enough urgency for them to move to the next stage of the funnel. They might say something like “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll get back to you when we’re reviewing our finances next year”.
If you’re hearing that, it could be a sign you’re not quite addressing the pain points you think this customer’s business has. If you were, the prospect would understand how urgent your offering is, and how soon you could help them improve their situation.
You could dig a little deeper and find out what’s actually taking up your prospects’ time. If you just get vague diversions and excuses, it might be that the prospect isn’t interested and that they’re just trying to brush you off. If it sounds like they genuinely are pushed for time, try to get them to commit to an appointment in a few weeks when they should be free.
The goal here is to convince your prospect that your solution actually is urgent. If this isn’t just a brush-off, this objection signals a little bit of interest. Find out what it is that’s occupying their time just now, find the pain point, and apply some pressure.
Ask if you can arrange just a twenty-minute call to show them the product. Emphasize you’re not looking for a sale, just making sure they’re aware of what’s on offer so they can keep it in mind for when they’re ready to review. If your demo is very effective, you might find that they’re calling you back sooner than they expected to.
“I’ve never heard of this”
Branding is one of the most powerful ways for a company to increase revenue. A good brand can charge a higher price for a commodity because they’ve earned a lot of trust over the years they’ve been in business.
But for smaller companies or startups, branding is an uphill battle. You might have a great product and a killer value proposition, but you’ll still struggle with leads who’ve never heard of you or your product. Lead generation is as important in winning a marketing competition as providing a valuable product.
And if they’re already using a well-established competitor, you can’t count on your little brand at all. You have to sell people on features and pricing. Ideally, your sales strategy should emphasize the things your product does that the incumbent couldn’t do if they wanted to. Netflix started circling Blockbuster long before streaming when they eliminated late fees, which were a substantial part of Blockbuster’s revenue.
In a world where companies are all using the same APIs and cloud providers to run their operations, they can’t compete on their speedy computing infrastructure or their convenient payments. All they have left to compete on is how well they understand their customers.
For startups and small companies, this lowers the barrier to entry. It means that if you build a rapport with your prospect and demonstrate that you understand their issues, they’re willing to give you some of their time.
You need a clear idea of who your company is and what makes you different. That’s part of the essence of branding, and you’ll build that brand with every interaction that your company has with a customer or prospect. And that brand will be reflected in your social proof.
Case studies, user reviews, customer feedback, and social media posts are great assets for an emerging company. 42% of B2B sellers plan to invest more in them. They’re tools you can refer to or send over while you’re talking to prospects, and they’ll reflect the positive associations you want your brand to carry as you become more well-known.
If you’re able to collect data on how people are using your product, that could be a great sales tool too. For software testing services, you could monitor the software testing metrics your customers are using and track how much debugging they’ve saved with your product over the first 3-6 months. You can also use heatmaps or social listening for this purpose.
“We don’t have the budget”
Financial sales objections can be hard to navigate. You can’t just persuade your leads to have more cash on hand this year. And if you’re talking to a potential customer about, say, helping with their localization strategy, that’s a big job and you’re asking for a big investment. There are a number of ways to tackle this.
You could acknowledge that any investment comes with risks, but pitch them on the potential reward of accessing a bigger market. However, your sales calls are a source of very important data that should inform the company’s pricing strategy.
If you keep hearing financial sales objections, feed this back to the team and try alternate pricing plans. You could break down the pricing structure into smaller, more affordable units. Alternatively, experiment with putting different features on different tiers. Moreover, you could offer a free trial and see how prospects respond.
The work you’re doing on the sales team should be tightly integrated with the work of the marketing and product teams, as you’re spending so much time with the customers your whole company is supposed to be serving. A significant chunk of success in sales depends on the marketing campaigns and strategies, including the use of SMS marketing, social media and email marketing techniques.
“I can’t make those decisions”
If you’re having conversations about management KPIs, or what is retail management, with someone who doesn’t have the final say on those matters, you might get some pushback. Your prospect might feel like they’re getting in over their head and that it’s not worth them going further. This is something for their superiors to handle.
Luckily, you can use these types of sales objections to your advantage. Their managers are even busier than they are, so this conversation gives you an opportunity to relay your sales pitch to someone in the company.
The other person wants to make an impact in their company and be seen as useful. So you should try to convince them of the benefits of relaying this information to their superiors. If their managers decide it’s worth calling you back, your prospect would have done a lot of the selling for you.
“We already use…”
If your prospect is already happily using a competitor of yours, this could be an uphill battle. However, your product team should be making this one easy for you.
You have to know what your product’s unique selling points are. You have to understand how your product is positioned counter to your competitors and what you can do that they can’t.
Relating this to your prospect’s pain points, you can use a tool like Builtwith to find out what technologies they’re using to run their business. This will enable you to relate your offering directly to the products that they’re using and pitch the unique value you offer.
“We just don’t have time right now”
Often in B2B, you’re selling to busy people, and often you’ll have problems just getting a hold of them for a sales call. They’ll say they just don’t have time.
So turn that around. Why don’t they have time? What busywork is taking up all their attention? Could your product help? In any case, you could offer a streamlined version of your usual product demo. Perhaps 15 minutes where your demos are usually 30.
It is also a good idea to present the option of calling at a different time. That way, you can exhibit your enthusiasm to your potential customers.
“Does it do…?”
If you’ve run the gauntlet through these other sales objections, you might finally get your prospect to spend enough time with your product to start objecting to it.
This is actually very useful data. And it might be worth having someone from your product team ready to pull into the call if you know it’s going to be an in-depth look at the product.
To address any concerns about the product itself, you’ll have to integrate many of the tactics described above. If they’re asking “does it do this?”, “does it do that?” It means they know what they’re looking for. Social proof and case studies, counter-positioning against your competitors, and some flexibility on pricing are all good tactics you want to have ready.
The good news is that this question means your prospect is actually engaging with you and considering your product’s offering. This is a good conversation to be having, and any concerns you can feed back to the product team here will be especially useful.
The benefits of handling common sales objections
This list should give you some ideas about handling the common sales objections you’ll face. But there are many more which will be specific to your industry and your product.
When you come up against a new sales objection, write it down and keep it in something like a Google Doc where you can share it with the rest of the team. Keeping a list of these objections and the best way to handle them is a good method to ensure your team keeps improving.
Not only will handling these sales objections as quickly as possible increase your sales, but it’ll allow you to move on to more interesting and important conversations with your prospects. That’ll give you information to feed back to the product team, which will help them improve the product and tailor it to your target audiences’ objections, which will, in turn, help you sell it.