Did you know that sales discussions that begin with the prospect objecting, actually have a higher deal won rate by almost 30%? Seems unbelievable, but it is true - we have the data to prove it to you: Wingman analyzed over 224,0000 sales calls from countless sales teams that spanned 2 million call minutes over 13 months to arrive at this insight.
Now, this data implies two things for a salesperson.
One: It indicates that all hope is not lost when a prospect turns you down. Yessss!!
Two: It also means that sales teams need to develop objection handling techniques so that you can convert the prospect from wary or unwilling to interested or maybe even enthusiastic.
This post is a cheat sheet that gives you a handful of reliable methods for handling sales objections based on the type of objection you‘re dealing with. It's really a lot less difficult than a lot of people make it sound.
When you think about it, it's actually common sense. A prospect that starts questioning you from the word go is clearly thinking about:
A) Your product or service and whether it fits (into their schedule, budgets, current toolkit, etc.)
B) Their goals, and how best to meet them
All you need to do to handle sales objections, for the most part, is to convince them that your product is the route to them meeting their goals (provided it does indeed have that ability).
A lot of the most common objections are often just a sign that your prospects are looking for a better deal or just trying to get on with their work. They might also not understand how your product can help.
You might hear sales objections like:
“We haven’t a budget for something like this right now.”
Or just plain:
“No budgets right now.”
They might not even invite you to call next quarter.
They might tell you they already have a vendor on board.
Or that they haven’t the time or bandwidth to attend to a sales call right now.
Backing off after the first sales call isn’t an option when you are a salesperson because, as you probably already know, only a small percentage of deals close immediately in the first sales call or meeting. Most people will swat a salesperson away like a fly because, very simply, you need something from them, and they are not convinced that they need something from you. On the other hand, they need a lot of things from a lot of other people (including their own prospects or customers or supply chain vendors, depending on their business), and the salesperson is often standing between them and those tasks. That’s why they want to cut the call short (as short as possible) - it's nothing personal.
We’ve rounded up three techniques for better handling sales objections. These techniques outline sales processes that let you come across as suave and mature rather than desperate and groveling.
Techniques for overcoming objections:
#1 Keep calm & let them rant
There’s a lot that a sales rep can learn from a prospect’s complaining. People might not have time to hear a sales pitch but might just have time to vent about what they are struggling with on your sales call. Maybe they say to the sales rep, “Oh, I don’t have the time for this call today because….”
“We just hired a new team, and we need to onboard them.”
“We just laid off half the team, and I have to do their work.”
“I’ve just received a hard-to-achieve target.”
“Things are on fire in xyz project/ market.”
“My kids are sick, and I have to run home right now.”
Provided you can manage active listening, the first four points give the sales rep room - on the next call or after the prospect has finished venting - to position your product as the solution to any of their problems.
All five points give the salesperson an opportunity to launch the next conversation on a personal note.
Tip: If you tend to get all worked up in the face of dissent, try role-playing with other members of the sales team so that you get into the habit of not replying rudely or emotionally to any rebuttal.
- Allow your prospect to finish narrating their objection to you. Don’t try to jump in because that could be perceived as irritating, disrespectful, and poorly mannered, on the part of the sales rep, besides robbing you of a valuable opportunity to get inside your prospect’s head and understand their needs.
- Listen with empathy and not just from a PR standpoint, but also because when you empathize and stand in a person’s shoes, you might be able to come up with more logical and useful solutions.
- Take notes because despite your empathy, you’re likely to encounter similar objections during multiple pitches and you definitely don’t want to mistakenly say, “How are your kids now?” to someone who doesn’t even have any kids. Sales reps talk to hundreds of people; how can you expect to remember all of them and their kids, cats, and hamsters?
Sales intelligence tools (like Wingman) can prove to be your friend indeed here. With Wingman’s AI-powered note-taking, you can automate sales transcription and focus on listening to your prospect and building rapport.
- Start arguing at breakneck speed about how the prospect is wrong because nobody wants to hear about how they are wrong, especially not on a cold call, but pretty much never; they want you to see things from their point of view.
- Give up and storm off in a huff, or be rude or snappy because that might kill any future potential. (We really hope you already knew this one!)
- Forget to drop them an email with your contact information in case they change their minds. This is a crucial part of the sales process whether the deal is won or not. You’ve made contact. Sustain that contact - objection handling is just part of the sales process.
In the next phase of the “Keep calm & let them rant” objection handling technique, you need to build your argument.
You will need
- Your notes from the call (or the supernotes from Wingman’s automated sales call transcripts).
- Details of similar prospects (which turned into customers) and were effectively served by you.
- Product literature related to their specific goals or issues.
Spend time reframing a convincing argument. Imagine yourself and your prospect as sitting on opposing sides of a debate (a friendly, well-mannered one, please!). The prospect has made their argument. Now it's time for you to make yours.
- So if the sales prospect said, “We laid off half the team, and I have to do all their work; I don’t have the time for this right now” then you might want your second conversation to focus on how your product or service can help them continue to achieve their goals, despite a smaller team.
- If the sales prospect’s argument was about lacking budgets, you might want to empathize with needing to keep the show going with low budgets. From there, you can lead into how they can improve ROI or the achievement of their business goals with your product. Use a demo, or let past work do the talking with case studies and client testimonials.
- If the prospect had a personal matter or crisis to attend to, you have an opener for the next conversation. This brings us to our next technique for overcoming objections.
#2: Get familiar/ be a cheerleader
No no, we’re not asking you to ditch your crisp formals for a cheerleader costume! We’re talking about digital cheerleading in the world of business.
There’s a lot to be said about a world that relies so heavily on the external validation that they get on social media. But for a salesperson who knows how to play it right, it is a chance to get closer to your prospects.
This technique is especially useful when you have missed the bus on budgeting. There are also many companies that sign year-long or multi-year contracts, which might mean you need to bide your time. Overall, use this one when you have no choice but to wait.
Don’t let anyone make fun of you for “fawning” or “sucking up”. Call it professional outreach, or maintaining a professional friendship in the face of sales objections. It need not even cost anything. Like a LinkedIn post or picture, for example, or send them a greeting on birthdays, after a promotion, or for the holidays. Try and use words instead of a stock image that goes out in a bulk email.
Be sure to utilize his method of objection handling in a sustained fashion. Then reach out at a more opportune time with a recap of what they had said on the prior occasion, requesting to be given a chance this time around to show them how you can help them achieve their business goals.
Before you embark on your cheerleading remember that its main purpose is objection handling. Be sure to find out when you can reach out next, and to make a note or set a reminder so that you do not miss out the next time around. It is probably a good idea to reach out a few months in advance just in case you need to put sales objection handling Technique 1 into action.
A word of caution: Maintain a balance, because you don’t want them thinking you’re a stalker. Keep it professional and follow your prospect’s LinkedIn rather than their Instagram (unless it's a work profile, or they seem to have lots of professional contacts on their social pages), and definitely do not hound them for meetings on social media.
#3: Display flexibility and support
This technique for overcoming objections is best used when your prospect’s objections or pain points have something to do with
- Lacking budgets, or even a price objection
- Not knowing your brand well enough
- Distrust from a prior experience (with you or a peer/ competitor)
- Concern about new tech represented by your product
- Wariness about ROI/ effectiveness
- Deployment of your product or service
In these instance you might have fairly easy sales objection handling ahead of you, especially if your organization is supportive of the salesforce. Explain to your internal stakeholders that it will require a team effort to build a relationship with the prospect.
These are very common sales objections. None of these are concrete objections; they would best be categorized as roadblocks or hurdles rather than as dead ends. Hike up your chinos and jump over them! Here’s how:
This is when sales teams need to move mountains (or maybe just molehills) internally to help the deal go through. Maybe your company typically only takes on annual contracts, but you let this client pay for a month or a fortnight to sample the product and also not cough up a large amount immediately. A price objection where your peers or competitors are offering a better price might need you to lower your price or to display some additional benefit. Maybe you can throw in something that the client needs that does not cost you too much.
Build trust and allay fears around ROI by using contracts that protect your prospect’s interest or by accepting partial payment after the fact.
Evolving tech and deployment are fairly common concerns as the business landscape becomes more firmly digital. Especially if you sell SaaS, remind them about how the whole world moved to remote working overnight, about how it was challenging but we got used to it pretty quickly. Offer free training and support in deployment.
It always helps to have a wingman….
What if you could have a sales wingman? Someone who helps you score… well, paying customers. And helps you take home… client wins! Someone who knows (and tells you) exactly what to say when and has your back.
Sounds like a dream-come-true? It is! With Wingman, our sales intelligence platform, you get the right insights to tackle sales objections on calls - exactly when you need them. It provides you with intelligent, data-driven cues on what to say next (or what not to do next) when you’re on call. In other words, if you get stuck, Wingman helps you win - in real-time. Isn’t that what a wingman does?
It tells you exactly when a call turned the wrong way (or the right way!) and you can easily integrate it with your CRM and communication channels like Slack. You can access prior calls when you or a peer on the sales team is in a situation that makes you feel like, “Hey I’ve seen this before - how did I sort it out the last time around?” Or “James turned around a situation like this before; I should take a page out of his book.”
Sounds too good to be true? Well AI does that to a lot of things, doesn’t it? Why not see for yourself? Book a free demo now.