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How to handle objections in sales

By: Rebecca Herson
August 11, 2021
8 min. read
how to handle objections in sales

One of the biggest obstacles to making a sale is objection handling: The potential customer has decided that they don’t want the product your salesperson is selling.

Instead of looking at a sales objection as a negative, though, your salespeople should look at it as an opportunity to learn more about the customer and the specific problems they face. Because after hearing the customer out and learning why they don’t want to buy, your salesperson could end up making a sale after all.

What are sales objections?

The best way to tackle sales objections is to first understand exactly what it is: any time a customer objects to a sale. There are many reasons why this happens. They may object to the price, have a relationship with your competitor, or the timing just isn’t right.

In other words, sales objections are simply barriers that exist between the customer’s current situation and the completion of a successful sale with your company. Fortunately, there are steps your salespeople can take to overcome almost any sales objection.

Keeping emotions out of sales calls

When going into a sales call, it’s important for your salespeople to keep their emotions out of the equation. After all, failure to make a sale is not usually personal. In many cases, a client has very good reasons for saying no to a sale.

Acting defensive about a “no” will most likely make things worse, decreasing the opportunity to still make a connection with a potential customer. Make sure your salespeople avoid defensive statements, including defending the company’s products or services, because it doesn’t really matter how your salespeople feel about a product. It’s more important how the customer feels. So, instead of getting upset, the best salespeople try to learn more about why a customer doesn’t want a product.

By accepting a customer’s rejection and trying to get a better understanding of why, your salespeople acknowledge the objection in a positive way. And they might even still make a sale by providing the answers to a customer’s objection and alleviating all concerns.

Of course, this all starts with listening to the potential customer.

Why listening is important for salespeople

When a customer rejects a product or service, the first thing your salespeople should do is ask them why in a non-confrontational way. Next, they should listen, even if it is about a competitor and a similar product they provide.

This allows your salespeople to identify the pain points the client faces and what is important to them. The salesperson can then suggest a solution to the customer, in the form of the product or service you sell, to help fix the problem.

For this, though, your salespeople will need a complete understanding of the product or service they are selling.

Your salespeople should know your products and services

There is no better weapon in the arsenal of making a good sale than having a comprehensive understanding of the product your salespeople are selling. With this knowledge, your salespeople can go into any situation knowing exactly how your product can best help the potential customer’s various pain points.

In addition, knowing the solution inside and out allows your salespeople to identify any advantages your product has over the competition. This gives them the edge they need to overcome any objections a potential client might have. They should have knowledge of how other customers use the solution, the benefits they have gained, and how it can apply to this particular customer’s needs.

How to overcome common sales objections

As to the actual types of sales objections, there are many. Here are several of the most common types of sales objections and ways your salespeople can overcome them.

Price

A potential customer might claim the product is too expensive or that they don’t have the budget. Another popular objection is that they can get the product somewhere else for less. In some cases, the potential customer is simply trying to save money. So, if your salesperson can convince them of the value of the product, they might actually change their mind.

Once your salesperson has determined whether the client can actually afford the product or not, they should focus on demonstrating the value of the product and how it can help the client answer their particular problem.

Timing

Timing is also a big factor when it comes to potential customer buy in. Some common objections when it comes to timing include not having the time or capacity for implementing the product. It could be that they aren’t ready yet for the product/solution. Or maybe they already have a system or product in place that meets their basic needs and don’t want to spend the time it takes to start over with a new product.

This is when knowing the product inside and out can really pay off for your salespeople. The salesperson can respond by showing the potential customer the value of the product over what they are currently using, without disrespecting the competitor, or even what kind of timeline to expect when implementing the product.

Value

In some instances, a potential customer might fail to see the value of a product. Common arguments include the potential client doesn’t really see the value of the product compared to what they currently have, the product is too complicated, or it doesn’t work with the company’s current setup.

It is up to your salesperson to emphasize the product’s value, especially when it comes to providing the solution to a particular pain point. If your company offers value after the sale, such as through a customer service program, your salesperson could also use that as a selling point.

Competitor relations

Another strong sales objection is the potential client’s relation with a competitor. Maybe they are perfectly happy with what they have now. Or, it’s even possible that the competitor has been making false statements about the products your company sells. Remember that your salespeople should avoid letting emotions play a part in their response to such a claim. They should also avoid saying anything bad about the competition in retaliation. The strength of the product you offer and the value it could bring to the client is argument enough.

Again, knowing the product inside and out in combination with a clear understanding of the potential client’s needs allows your salesperson to lay out what your product can do for them. In some cases, this will be more than what the competition offers. Your salesperson can use those advantages to try and still make the sale.  See our guide on the art of relationship building in sales to get tips to build and maintain strong client relations.

Hesitation

Sometimes a company will hesitate to try something new. This could be because they were burned in the past or had a bad experience with a product. This might cause them to only want to work with “people/ companies they know.”

By listening to what the potential client has to say, your salesperson can get a better understanding of their problem and why they feel they way they do. This is a great opportunity to show the client that the salesperson cares about what they have to say and is listening to them.

Your salespeople can use testimonials or case studies from past satisfied clients to show just how trustworthy your company is. By building a repertoire of satisfied customers, your salespeople can parlay that into a sale and add another satisfied customer to the list.

Know when to reschedule a meeting for a later time

While on a call, it may be clear that the salesperson is not going to make a sale on that specific day. For example, the customer has more pressing concerns and can’t really focus on the call and what your salesperson is selling at the time.

It is up to your salesperson to take cues from the client and push the call off to another time. At this point, it’s better to reschedule for a later date when the company has more time to fully devote to the call.

Just make sure the salesperson gets the next call marked on the calendar for a specific day and time, or else it can pushed off indefinitely.

Know when to walk away

Knowing when to walk away from a sale is also important. Maybe your company can’t provide what a customer needs after all or the customer is bound and determined not to buy the product your salesperson is selling.

Being able to discern this can save the salesperson time, as they shouldn’t keep trying to make a sale when one isn’t going to happen. In all cases, your salesperson needs to end any sales call nicely. They never know when they might have to call the client back at a later point to try and make a sale on another product from your company.

Skills your salespeople can use during objection handling

When making a call, it requires more than great charm and a friendly voice. Fortunately, your salespeople can use some other skills to help them with sales objection. Some common skills your salespeople can use to improve their objection handling include:

  • Empathy: This is the ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling. Good empathy skills can help a salesperson make a stronger connection with a potential client. Those who feel connected with a salesperson are more likely to open up and share their problems, which your company can then provide a solution for.
  • Curiosity: Your salespeople should go into any sales call with a sense of curiosity. They can start by asking what the prospect is looking for and then listen to what they have to say. Once the client is finished responding, the salesperson can make an informed recommendation of the product or service needed to address the problem.
  • Building rapport: This allows your salesperson to build a level of trust with the potential client. Your salesperson should start by knowing the customer’s name and how to pronounce it correctly. Most importantly, your salesperson should use their name naturally during a call to avoid looking disingenuous.

Preparation is important

Not everyone is a natural in handling objections. Many people will get flustered or defensive when objections are raised in a sales call. This is where preparation and practice can make a huge difference.

Role playing handling objections can go a long way to making the process go more smoothly when the actual time comes to have that discussion with a potential customer. As Susan Greenberg from SAP said in a recent webinar, when salespeople got into a role play after doing a whole course in objection handling, they suddenly realized, “this is much harder than I thought.”

Besides practice, having information on hand about prices, price ranges, and other programs to help get a customer on board more easily with a product or service can also help.

Use Second Nature to hone your salespeople’s objection-handling skills

Practicing with Jenny, Second Nature’s AI sales coach, your salespeople can get a better grasp on handling objections during their sales calls. On top of that, the role plays with Jenny are recorded and analyzed automatically, allowing your salespeople to immediately see where they can improve their objection-handling skills. This way, they can avoid the awkwardness that sometimes comes up with such calls.

In addition to the salespeople themselves, Second Nature also provides important data to the sales managers, so they know if there are any problem areas when it comes to objection handling with a particular salesperson. This, in turn, allows the sales managers to zero in on where it makes the most sense to work more closely in one-on-one sessions with the salesperson to help them work on perfecting their response when objections are raised.

Learn more about Second Nature today.

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Rebecca Herson

Rebecca leads marketing at Second Nature