As a sales professional, one of the most common things you hear from prospects is an objection. From not having time to talk or not needing what you offer, it is a common problem facing many salespeople.
In sales, objections come every day. What sets a strong sales rep apart from someone with less-experienced reps is how the rep handles objections when they are meeting face-to-face or cold calling. Once reps learn the right way to rebuttal, they gain more experience and can improve their sales technique, improving their overall performance.
Take Time to Listen
It's important that reps understand that when prospects give an objection, they are still giving you valuable information. Even when it sounds like someone is trying to end the call as fast as possible, you learn a lot about what that customers' pain points are and what they really want. Take note of the following info:
- Often the objection they give you is rooted in reality, even though you may need to dig into it for more details
- Their tone gives you a sense of whether they are really close to you, or could be open depending on what you say
- They may give you useful information about their organization, for example if they currently buy from your competitor
- Sometimes an objection points you to a decision maker who is not the person you are calling.
Effective sales techniques treat a call where someone tells you they are not interested as a good source of information which will fuel your sales process. But to get that value, you need to listen hard.
Be sure to pay attention to the actual words used, what they don’t say and also your impression of their tone. Listening well can be an art form, and it takes practice. But, the customer wants to be heard--and, they expect you to understand their perspective.
Sound constructive, not confrontational
If someone pushes in line ahead of you, you’ll likely tell them to cut it out. But if someone asks your permission to cut the line because their child is waiting outside in the car, you are more likely to agree to it.
As humans, we prefer someone speaking to us in a way which shows they are thinking about us and trying to help us rather than arguing just to argue. That is true when you make a sales call and are met with an objection from the other end of the line.
After the target tells you their interest level and reason, they can be defensive. They are waiting for you to tell them they are wrong as pushy sales techniques suggest, which will give them the excuse to put the phone down early. That is why to improve your sales effectiveness, you need to adopt a different tone. Instead of sounding confrontational, adopt a constructive approach. This can include:
- Clarifying what their objection was, to make sure you understand it properly
- Asking if they have any other objections or things they would like to get off their chest
- Letting them know their opinion is important to you, and that you appreciate it
This will allow the conversation to go beyond the initial hostile response into a more neutral phase where you have fresh permission to speak. You can use that to slip into persuasive sales techniques depending on the nature of the client objections.
Remember, you have to earn your prospect's trust from the start. They will not open up when they are put on the defense. Your job is to gently prompt them to engage in further conversation with you.
You must earn the right to give a rebuttal to an objection. Figure out how to get your prospect more interested in your response. That can be achieved when you show interest in their point of view first.
Start on your strongest ground
Typically, some objections are baloney while others are based on strong evidence or experience. You can’t tackle all of them at once, nor would it be a good use of your time to do that.
It may be tempting to start by rebutting the main objection or the first one mentioned. Yet, what if the prospect is actually right and that is one of your company’s weak points? That is why, instead of going after the rebuttals by size, the best hitting sales techniques and focus on the easiest objection to handle.
Even if that is not the main complaint the prospect mentioned, handling it well will win you time and increase your credibility. Consider your sales compensation plan and how this prospect's potential would fit into those incentives. Focus on the big picture when talking to, listening, and negotiating with your prospect. Utilizing the right sales techniques, aligned with the buying stage, will take you to the desired objective.
Show that you understand
With your rebuttals, you need to show that you have listened. If you just sound like you are disagreeing, the prospect will feel you are ignoring their point and have no incentive to continue the call. Even a short empathetic phrase can communicate clearly that you understand what they are saying. This buys you time to help neutralize the objection. Such phrases include:
- “I’m sorry to hear about that…”
- “I understand why that must feel frustrating for you…”
- “It’s helpful that you’ve explained the situation to me, as now I can understand your position clearly..”
Empathizing is not the same as endorsing. You do not have to agree with the objection – but you do need to acknowledge them and show that you comprehend them.
Stick to the facts
Rebuttals give an opportunity to help a prospect see the benefits your product or service could offer to them. You can frame these within the objections they have raised, and what those suggest the prospect cares about.
Some objections are subjective, like “I just don’t see the need”, or “I don’t think we have budget this year”. You can overcome those by getting down to the underlying assumptions and examining them. Nonetheless, some are objective. For example, a prospect may say “Your product isn’t number one in Consumer Reports” or “I used your firm before and had a bad experience.”
These are based on facts, even if they mix in some opinion. You can’t beat facts with hogwash. Good rebuttals mean that you need to stick to the facts, acknowledging them and working around them. For instance, you can reframe a price challenge by looking at the bigger issue of value.
This still acknowledges that your product is the most expensive in the market, but it can help to overcome a price-based objection. It's important to note that your sales incentives were designed to motivate your sales success.
This involves studying matter-of-factly sales techniques that are appropriate responses for any rebuttal. The prospect wants to speak to an informed and thoughtful consultant, not a peddler. They might have a picture of a cheesy used auto salesperson in their head--it's up to you to change that image into a reliable and professional thought leader.
Objections are common. Customers and prospects will use them, just as you would if the tables were turned. They are actually a free source of information which helps you close the sale. Objections are not the end of the road for the sales journey, they are only the beginning.
By listening, actively, you can create a customized buyer's journey based on your prospect's needs and wants. Pay attention to them, treat them seriously, and engage with them. Once they see and feel your interest, the odds will then land in your favor.