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Objection handling is the act of overcoming barriers (aka sales objections) brought up by a prospect during the sales process. As a salesperson, learning how to effectively react to your prospects’ objections is vital to achieving a solid conversion rate on your leads. To help you develop these skills, we’ll cover what objection handling is, a helpful script, and our favorite strategies, tips, and examples for you to reference on the job.
Objection handling is the way that a salesperson responds to, and overcomes, objections made by the prospect in order to move the sales process forward and ease their mind. The idea isn’t to win an argument, it’s to settle the concern your prospect has expressed in their objection. An objection is any issue brought up by a prospect as a potential reason not to buy, and it can come up during every step of the sales process — even after the sale.
Here are some of the common causes for objections:
Most of the objections you’ll come across will come from one of these five causes. So, if you prepare yourself for each, it’s unlikely that you’ll be caught off guard. For objections rooted in each of these causes, there are strategies you can implement to overcome them. There are also some more general tips and responses you can use for less substantive objections, and some scripted verbiage to work into all of your rebuttals.
Next, let’s look at some of the common objections you may have to overcome in your career.
When prospects have concerns related to any of the common causes we discussed above — price, priority, lack of knowledge, time, and irritation — they often express them using common objections. Below, we’ve included some of the common ones you’ll hear and which cause each relates to so you can recognize these objections during your conversations with prospects.
When somebody mentions that they are looking at another product because it’s cheaper, redirect their attention to your unique value-add. They don’t dislike your product, they just aren’t sure why they would pay more money for something they see as the same offering as a cheaper one. So, educate them on why it would be worth the extra cost.
Prospects will often give objections like “I’m interested, but not ready to make a decision right now,” or “It sounds great, but I’m not sure if I can purchase yet.” This shows that, while they do have interest in the product, it isn’t a high priority for them yet. In this case, figure out why it isn’t, what they are currently prioritizing above it, and give them a reason why they should focus on this purchase first.
This is a common objection on first contact, and you should take it as a sign that you rushed your pitch. If you’re trying to close, and your prospect explains that they don’t fully grasp what you’re selling, ask them what they want to know about the product, or what seems unclear to them, and answer with patience.
Sometimes, prospects are just busy. While it can be tempting to try and force them to talk to you right then and there, that can lead you right into an irritation objection as well. So, opt for setting up a follow-up call with a quick question like “Can I call you back in around an hour?” or “What times are you usually available to reach on the phone?”
This is an objection in the form of a question. Typically, this is simply the prospect wondering why you’re contacting them when they didn’t ask you to. This falls in line with the irritation cause, as it usually isn’t fun having to deal with a random sales call that you weren’t expecting. So, the way you’d want to respond to this objection is to give them a reason to want to stay on the phone — maybe leading with a benefit that your product offers them.
There are a few key strategies to handle common objections according to their root cause. Some of these strategies can address multiple causes for your prospect’s concerns — the first strategy below will cover both price and priority objections, the second will address objections related to lack of knowledge, and the third will handle objections regarding both time and irritation.
Who Should Do It: Salespeople handling an objection rooted in pricing or priority concerns.
Illustrating your product’s value is the act of giving concrete examples of the value that the product adds to your prospect’s life. This justifies your price and gives the prospect reason to prioritize making a purchase right away. There are a few different ways to illustrate the value that your product is designed to add:
Let’s look at exactly how to illustrate value in each of these three ways.
If your product is designed to save a customer time or money, your job is to identify exactly how much is saved in their particular circumstance. Ask them how much money and time they currently spend on labor or tools that the product could replace each month. Multiply that number by 12 to represent the amount spent after a year, and show them the result.
Then, you can simply subtract the price of the product from the end calculation of money spent on the issue over the course of a year, showing them the exact value-add. For example: “Our commercial dishwashers cost $20K, and you currently spend almost $30K a year on dishwasher staff for your restaurant after tax. If you bought our dishwasher, you’d save $10K after your first year, $40K after the second, and $70K after the third.”
Or, if you’re talking about time, divide the price of your product by the number of hours saved, then ask them if their time is worth less than the final calculation. For example: “Our vacuum is $300 and saves you an hour of sweeping each week, so 4 hours a month. Over the next three years, that’s around 150 hours! Is your time really worth less than $2 an hour?”
Not only does this clearly prove the value of the product, but it also provides it to the customer in a tangible, non-combative way that comes off more consultative than sales-y. This will go a long way in building rapport, as it shows the prospect that you pay attention to their needs and are willing to lay out the hard facts for them to make an educated decision.
This one is similar to calculating money saved, except you’ll be asking the prospect how much money they would make if they had the product. If you’re doing this calculation, you’re speaking to a high-level decision maker, and they should have an idea how the product would affect revenue. So, ask them for the annual revenue increase they’d expect, then subtract the product price from the one-, two-, and three-year revenue generation figures.
In this example, you would say, “Our sleeper trucks cost $150K, and your single-truck operation brings in $200K per year. So you’re already going to make $50K in your first year, and then $200K more in pure profit in the years following. You could also increase initial gains if you finance with us.”
If you sell a product, like cars or cell phones, that aren’t traditionally sold as time- or money-savers, then you can win in the pricing conversation by comparing the quality of your product to the competition to justify your price. This one takes a little bit of preparation to do its best work, so let’s break down the steps:
If you have an extensive list of common competitors, consider repeating steps 1-3 on multiple competitive products, and asking your prospects which of them they are most interested in if they don’t purchase from you. When rebutting the objection, show them a comparison for a competitive product that they expressed interest in.
The general idea of all of these illustrations is to make them focus less on the price, and more on the value. By putting the work in for them, you can help them realize that they need your product, even if they had no clue before your call.
Who Should Use It: Sales professionals whose prospect expresses confusion about a product, or an objection that is based on a misconception or misunderstanding.
In many industries, prospects will carry common misconceptions that lead to objections in the sales process. There are a few different ways that a lack of knowledge can cause objections, and each of them requires a different set of information.
Specifically, a lack of knowledge can come from:
Let’s cover how to educate your prospect in each of these circumstances.
If your prospect has picked up a misconception about your industry or product, it’s your responsibility to educate them as to why their perception is wrong. For example, if you’re selling phone service, a consumer may have heard that a competitor always has better connection than yours. In this case, show them the locations and circumstances wherein your company offers better service using a service map or a network speed test.
So, when a prospect objects with something you know to be false, respectfully demonstrate why it’s false. Show them some of your informational materials that cover the issue, like the service map or speed test in our example above. Avoid asking them where they picked up the misconception, as it can come off confrontational toward them or the person that many have told them the information.
If your prospect had a bad experience with a similar product, or even one of your products, the first thing you should do is apologize. Even if the product came from a competitor, a sincere apology for their bad experience can build trust and show them that you care about the experience that they had.
Once you’ve apologized on behalf of your company or industry, ask them to explain exactly what happened. Once they do, focus on explaining warranty options, or quality improvements that your company has made to ensure that customers don’t have those same experiences.
Here are some benefits to point out if your business offers them:
Once you’ve explained these benefits to your customer, you should be able to get past their bad prior experience as long as you’re specific. If you’re explaining that your warranty will protect their purchase, show them exactly what it covers and why it would avoid a similar experience. If you have a performance edge on the competition, show them the numbers behind that assertion or the technology that gives you the advantage.
If your prospect says something like “I just don’t understand the product” or “I don’t know enough to make a purchase right now,” go back to your pitch. Your first pitch likely was not informative enough, and you need to pitch again with a little bit more product information. This can happen on the same call if you have a good idea what needs to be changed within your pitch, or you can schedule another call to give yourself time to prepare.
If your prospect understands the basics but still expresses that they don’t know enough, make sure you ask them exactly what information they are looking for. Whatever information they ask for, make sure that you include it in your second pitch.
Any good sales pitch should include all of the following:
If you give a second pitch that includes all of these, as well as any information that your prospect specifically asks for, they should have a pretty firm grasp on your product. For more info on pitching, check out our guide to sales pitching that includes a step-by-step process to create and deliver a pitch, plus examples and tips to help you improve your pitch.
Once you finish giving your pitch, ask them, “Is there any more information you would like about the product?” and answer any questions that follow. This will serve as the cherry on top to confirm that your prospect has all of the information they need to understand your product in the context of their problem or objective.
Who Should Use It: Sales professionals handling prospects that express irritation at being contacted, or a lack of time to speak on the phone.
The most common objections during lead generation are related to time or irritation about being contacted by a stranger. Nobody is in love with the idea of being contacted out of the blue and being sold a product, as they perceive it to be a tiresome, long conversation that they aren’t interested in. You can overcome these types of objections by asking for a short, specific amount of time to speak with them, and hinting at your value proposition.
Here are some examples of what this strategy can sound like:
As you can see, each of these examples minimizes the time commitment from the prospect and gives them a reason to commit that small amount of time. You’re not always going to get a “Yeah, sure! I’d love to talk about that!” but you don’t always need one. You may just get a short question asking what it is you’re offering, and you can use that as consent to continue on with your discovery process after you explain who you are and why you’re calling.
Each of these strategies gives your prospect fact-based reasoning to overcome their hesitation and make a purchase. So long as you properly identify the cause of the objection and use the appropriate strategy, you should have solid odds to overcome that specific objection and move forward in the sales process. If you aren’t sure exactly what the source of an objection is, you can always ask the prospect directly.
Now that we’ve covered some specific strategies, let’s cover a fundamental script to help you better respond to any objection. This script is meant to serve as a way to frame any objection response that you give and ensure that it comes across as helpful and consultative as opposed to combative or argumentative.
Whenever you’re handling an objection, mirror the prospect’s objection, validate their concern, offer a fact-based rebuttal, and then confirm that you’ve clarified the issue for them. Next, we’ll dive into the script and show you what each of these key elements look like.
To ensure that you properly understand the prospect’s concern, repeat your understanding of their objection back to them.
“If I’m understanding correctly, you have a concern regarding (customer’s objection)?”
Before you rebut the objection, let the prospect know that you’re aware that their objection is reasonable and substantive.
“Okay, thank you for expressing your concern. I get how that could give you pause.”
Provide a fact-based counter-argument paired with supporting details, evidence, or numbers like those we discussed in the strategies section.
“Let’s take a look at the problem and see if I can clear up any issues you’re perceiving.”
After your rebuttal, ask the prospect if they understand what you’re saying and how it responds to their concern.
“Does that make sense, and does it settle your concern regarding (prospect’s objection)?”
If you go through all four of these elements and they say no to your confirmation of clarity, repeat the process with a different fact-based rebuttal. If they say yes, you’ve overcome the prospect’s objection.
If you’re handling a simple objection like “I don’t have time right now,” you probably don’t need to frame your response this way. This is a general script meant for fact-based rebuttals. We cover specific rebuttals to specific objections in our common sales objections and rebuttals article.
In addition to our strategies and script above, we have some tips that you can apply to any of your objections in order to improve the responses you get from prospects. These are meant to help you know how to receive objections, when to end your rebuttal, and how to prepare for future objections.
Here are our top five objection handling tips:
With these tips, you’ll find that you aren’t as drained by the objection handling process, you don’t lose your prospect’s attention with drawn-out rebuttals, and you’ll be more prepared to handle rebuttals as time goes on.
The goal of objection handling is to settle a concern for your prospect. If you offer a fact-based rebuttal and frame it in a positive and consultative manner, you’ll be able to settle your prospect’s objections with relative ease. Use our strategies, script, tips, and examples to master objection handling, and your closing rate will improve.
For even more detail on handling objections, check out our article on the top negotiation tactics from expert sellers.