Learn the key steps, best questions, and essential practices for conducting a discovery call that qualifies leads for nurturing.
Objection handling is the act of tactfully responding to a lead's concern by showing empathy and stating a sound rebuttal that overcomes their hesitation and continues moving the deal forward. Sales objections can occur at any point in the sales process, so it’s important to prepare for them. Fortunately, salespeople can use techniques, specific rebuttals, and an objection handling script to overcome all of the objections they encounter.
When a salesperson generates, qualifies, or nurtures leads, they often hear objections to their pitch or offering, which they then work to overcome so they don’t lose the sale. When confronted with any objection, the seller should listen to it, acknowledge it, and understand it in an effort to offer a rebuttal that alleviates a prospect's concerns. Objection handling on the spot is tricky, so sellers often prepare by documenting a script and list of ready-made rebuttals to common objections.
Follow this process to set yourself up for success in any objection handling situation:
Once you have an objection handling script and a document of objections and rebuttals, you can memorize both and, when necessary, use them mid-call. Keep in mind that you’ll hear objections in every stage of the sale, from when the lead first answers your cold call and says “I’m busy” to when you finally ask for the sale and they claim they're not ready. So keep these documents close by in all conversations with a prospect.
Lastly, don’t fall prey to the misconception that objection handling is like fly-swatting. You can’t just bat away objections with savvy rebuttals. It’s first a conversation. Using questions, attempt to understand the prospect’s underlying concern, something they often cloak in vague language like “not interested.” Only once the true objection is revealed can you deliver the perfect rebuttal.
We’ve created a free generic objection handling script that can be used during any objection handling situation. It guides you through the LAER objection handling framework (listen, acknowledge, explore, and respond with a rebuttal) while also giving you exact verbiage to say. It also includes blanks that enable you to tailor the script to the specific scenario and objection.
Though there are thousands of possible ways to express a sales objection, 95% fall into five main categories, or root causes of the objection. The five main causes are price, priority, lack of knowledge, timing, and irritation. Below we’ll give explanations and examples for each one. What you understand, you can handle.
Buyers often get stuck on price. They say things like “We don’t have the budget” or “A similar product is cheaper.” Most times, the buyer says this because they aren’t convinced of the ROI of the purchase. Sellers must help them see that the return is higher in value than the cost and make them feel excited and confident about the purchase’s benefits.
Hearing “We have other initiatives to manage” or “I’m just not ready to buy” tells you the prospect doesn’t see your solution as a priority. This apathy could arise for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they don't see the value of your solution. Maybe you haven’t shown them the consequences of waiting to address the issue. The prospect needs to understand why acting quickly will help them reach their goals or seize an opportunity.
Sometimes a buyer will express concern about a specific feature or service, or about their ability to implement or use it, saying something like “This seems too complicated to use.” This shows that they need to better understand how your solution works to help them achieve their goals. If it’s confusing to them, they won’t want to take the risk of buying it. Tutorials, demos, and more explanation can make them feel more comfortable.
This objection is common during cold prospecting. A rep will cold call a lead trying to initiate a conversation and hear “I have no time to talk.” Though the lead might actually be busy, often the real problem is that they don’t see you as a value provider, and this is the easiest way to get you off the phone so you don't waste their time. They need to see that you're sharp, helpful, and insightful before having a conversation with you.
Irritation objections often manifest as emphatic shut-downs, such as “Not interested!” or “Why are you calling me?” Like timing objections, they’re most common on cold calls. The lead sees you as an invader, and they want to get rid of you. Before the lead will let you talk with them, they have to feel like you're a considerate person similar to them who is only trying to help them solve a pain.
As you speak with leads and prospects, get in the habit of listening to their concerns and then tying them to one of these five objections. This will tell you how to overcome them.
After you’ve listened to, acknowledged, and explored an objection, you have to respond to it. The techniques below will help you come up with responses for each of the five types of objections so you can use the full LAER framework. Employ these techniques on the spot during a live call or during your downtime to create and document rebuttals for the most common objections. Some techniques can apply to more than one root cause, as you'll see below.
Who Should Do It: Salespeople dealing with a prospect who is concerned about price or feels no sense of urgency to purchase the product or service.
Illustrating your solution’s value is the act of helping the prospect see how much the product or service will benefit their life or business. It could be showing the prospect a calculation for revenue generated over a year or time saved each week. When the buyer comprehends how valuable your solution is to them, they’ll think it worth the price and move it up in priority.
There are a few different ways to illustrate the value of your product or service:
When prospects see how much power your solution has to change their lives for the better, they’re likely to justify the price and want to buy as soon as possible. Now, we’ll go more in depth about how to use these three strategies to illustrate value.
First, identify exactly how much is saved in the prospect’s particular situation. Ask them how much money and time they currently spend on labor and tools to do the process your product is meant to streamline or replace. Then convert that number into how much time/money they spend a year, and show them the result.
For money saved, simply subtract the price of your product from the 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 so on.”
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.
Tell the prospect how much revenue they can expect to earn over the next year from your solution. Then, walk them through exactly how you came to that number. If there’s any doubt, show them the revenue comparable customers have made using your solution. Of course, the yearly revenue generated should be larger than the yearly cost of the solution.
You might say, “Our LinkedIn lead generation services cost $3K per year. And we can confidently expect you to earn $8K from the leads we book on the platform. How’d I get to that number? We average 20 meetings per month booked for clients like you, and with your target market having an average monthly deal size of $8K, all you have to do is close one of those leads to break even. If you close another, you’re making $8K in extra revenue.”
With this technique, you’re helping the prospect see the product as an investment that will likely make them a lot of money in the long term. They'll therefore be able to justify the price not only to themselves, but also to any other decision makers on the team.
If you sell a product or service that isn’t traditionally sold as time- or money-savers, then you can overcome the pricing objection by comparing the quality of your product to the competition to justify your price. This demonstrates that your pricing is in fact fair.
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 the steps 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 solution that they expressed interest in. By putting the work in for them, you can help them realize that your pricing is well worth it.
Who Should Use It: Sales professionals whose prospect expresses confusion about a product or states an objection based on a misunderstanding or misconception.
In many industries, prospects will have gaps in understanding that lead to objections in the sales process. There are a few different ways that a lack of knowledge can cause objections. A prospect could have a misconception about your product or service, a negative experience with a similar product or service, or just a basic lack of information.
There are three different ways to educate your prospect based on the type of lack of knowledge:
Your job as the seller is to help the prospect understand your product or service. Only then will they feel comfortable enough to purchase it. Now, 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, respectfully educate them as to why it's false by showing them your informational materials on the issue. For example, if you’re selling a phone service, a consumer may have heard that a competitor always has a 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.
Avoid asking your prospects where they picked up the perception, as it can come off confrontational. Just politely prove it wrong with facts, data, and examples. Free from their misconception, they can see your solution more clearly.
A prospect might be wary of your solution because they had a bad experience with a similar one in the past, either from your company or another. They might say, “I’ve used exterior painters in the past and the paint they used wore off in 3 months.” If an objection like this occurs, there’s a process you can follow to assuage their fears with sympathy, understanding, and reassurance.
Here’s a process for handling leads who had a bad experience with a similar product:
After this exchange, the lead should be able to get past their bad experience, especially if you showed them exactly why it won’t happen again. Going with the previous example, if a lead was upset about a past paint job from another business, you could tell them that your business uses high-quality paint that weathers even the roughest of winters and show client testimonials to back it up. Their worries diminished, the prospect should move forward with the sale.
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,” first figure out exactly what they don’t understand. Ask if it's a specific feature. Then, address the lack of knowledge with a pitch focused on it; for example, demo the feature again. If, on the other hand, this is a newer lead or stakeholder who just doesn’t get the point of your solution, go back to your sales pitch.
Any good sales pitch should include all of the following:
If you give a sales pitch that includes all of these as well as any information that your prospect specifically asks for, they should have a firm grasp on your product, and the objection should be resolved. Once you finish, ask them, “Is there any more information you would like about the product?” and answer questions that follow. This will 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: Cold callers whose prospect has no time to talk or is frustrated that they’re being contacted by a stranger.
The most common objections during lead generation relate to time or irritation about being contacted by a stranger. Nobody loves 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 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 different rebuttals to this type of sales objection:
Each example minimizes the time commitment from the prospect and gives them a reason to give that small amount of time. You’re not always going to get an “I’d love to talk about that!” but you don’t always need one. They may just ask a short question about what you’re offering, which you can use as consent to continue with your discovery process after explaining who you are and why you’re calling.
If the lead is worried about how much time this is going to take, set them at ease with a promise regarding the duration. Also, give them a reason to invest this time. Here’s an example of this rebuttal: “I know you’re very busy, but if I promise to wrap this up in just five minutes, can I talk to you about a way to improve your X?” If the lead says yes, alert them when time is up and ask for their permission to continue. If they like what they’ve heard, they’ll likely say yes.
Despite the level of hostility in a lead’s voice, it’s likely they’re friendly deep down and want to be viewed as such, even by strangers cold calling them. Play to this desire by telling the lead you hear their hesitancy. Then ask politely for a few minutes, like so: “I understand you don’t usually stay on the phone with people you don’t know, but could I get five minutes of your time to get to know you and your business real quick?” Just to be nice, the lead might oblige your request.
If the lead is too busy at the moment, try to find a better time to call them back. Ask when they are more available. It could be in an hour or on another day. This shows the lead you care about their needs. Also, explain why they should talk with you. Here’s an example: “If now isn’t a good time, could I call back in around an hour? It’ll just take a few minutes of your time to discuss a way to make X easier for you.” If the reason is strong enough, they’ll give you the time.
Below are five of the most common sales objections you might hear — one for each of the five types — along with examples of rebuttal verbiage that works well. Read through these and consider adding them to your objection/rebuttal document, where you can tweak them to better fit your selling style. These examples also follow the techniques we previously introduced.
To overcome this objection, you should first identify which other business the prospect is evaluating and then show why your solution is worth the cost. Use what you know about the competitor to prove to the prospect that you’re a better fit for them.
Here are some example rebuttals to use once you’ve determined the competitor:
The main thing you’re trying to do when facing this objection is show why your service is worth the price and how it's better for the prospect than the cheaper option. Consider reminding them of your unique selling proposition as well, which can make your solution stand out.
Sometimes, you’ll receive objections like these over email. Instead of trying to overcome it over email, schedule a live meeting to address the concern. This gives you time to pick or create the right rebuttal and to do some research. For instance, if they mentioned another company they’re reviewing, you can research the product or service and come up with reasons why yours is better.
When responding to this objection, try to create a sense of urgency and show them why the time to act is now by calling out the costs of waiting — missed opportunities, their problem getting worse, etc. You could also try to figure out what they think is more important than this venture and show them why your solution is a better investment opportunity.
Below are some rebuttals to use when your prospect says they aren’t ready to buy:
Prospects commonly drag their feet when considering a purchase. Sometimes they just need a little nudge forward, a justification for acting fast. The above rebuttals will help you do just that.
When faced with this objection, get clear about what exactly the prospect doesn’t understand, and then, in the simplest way possible, help them comprehend it. This could be done in a live demo or through a thousand-foot view description. Stay away from technicalities, and include use cases that will educate the prospect on how people actually use the product.
Below are some ways to respond to this objection:
This objection will likely only appear during a cold call when the prospect is still new to your offer. However, on later calls, this objection can take the form of misunderstandings about certain features, services, or terms of the agreement. Regardless, help the buyer gain comprehension with clear and straightforward explanations.
This objection is typical on a cold call and is a tactic leads use to end the phone call without having to listen to your whole pitch. Unfortunately, you can’t force them to stay on the phone with you, but you can turn this obstacle into an opportunity to speak with them another time. Do this by trying to nail down specifically what information they want and securing the green light to call them after they’ve reviewed whatever you emailed them.
Here are some effective rebuttals to use during this time-related objection:
The best-case scenario is that you get time on their calendar to review the information you sent them. If that doesn’t happen, still at least send them an email following up a few days after you email the information and ask what they thought.
You’ll likely only come across this objection during lead generation. To overcome it, remain calm and polite, and tell the lead the truth. Once you’re honest, their defensiveness may dissipate, especially if they just forgot that they had filled out a form giving you their contact information. Here, you’re encouraging them to be friendly and giving them what they want.
Below are some good ways to respond to this objection:
Sometimes this question is a harbinger of bad fortune for the cold call, suggesting that the lead is just of an irritable constitution and not likely to let the call last regardless. However, when the person is actually just curious, or just in a slightly bad mood today, the above rebuttals can ease the tension and win them over to give you enough time to deliver your elevator pitch.
To improve and optimize your objection handling skills, there are some best practices you should follow. They include moving on when the customer is satisfied, uncovering the root objection, roleplaying with teammates, writing down every successful rebuttal you hear, and staying calm in the face of adversity.
Even if you’re in the middle of a complex rebuttal, move on if the prospect states they’re satisfied. There’s no need to dwell on the issue that’s been solved.
Some objections are vague, so make sure you uncover the real, underlying objection that’s bothering the prospect. Ask questions and use mirroring (repeating the objection in a questioning tone) to get the prospect talking.
To get better at overcoming objections, practice with your peers or colleagues. Try to schedule an hour every week for roleplay so you can master your script and internalize your rebuttals.
When a rebuttal works to overcome an objection, make a note of both in the objection/rebuttal document. This way you know to continue using it when you encounter that specific objection.
Never react defensively or take the objection personally. Instead, stay calm and try to understand it. This will strengthen your relationship with the buyer since they’ll sense you care about their satisfaction.
Armed with these tips, a strong script, and, most importantly, a list of effective rebuttals for common objections, you should be well on your way to mastering the art of objection handling.
Sales objections are common concerns that prospects raise throughout the sales process. These objections can occur during the lead generation, nurturing, or deal-closing stages and are typically related to price, priority, lack of knowledge or time, and irritation. To overcome these objections, sellers use ready-made rebuttals to put the prospect's mind at ease.
Sales rebuttals are responses to common objections that help make a prospect more comfortable with your offering in an effort to close. Typically, salespeople construct their rebuttals using the LAER method of: Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, and Rebut. The best sales rebuttals are often pre-planned based on common objections that salespeople hear.
Objection handling is the act of responding to and addressing your prospect’s hesitations and concerns to move them forward in the sales pipeline. The best objection handlers take time to ask questions and learn about the nature of the objection before responding with a rebuttal. Not only does this provide them with the best intel for crafting a response, but the hard conversation also improves the relationship between the buyer and seller. And that trust can melt objections.