Life is full of obstacles. They come in various forms. Most of them are overcome with what people already have inside of themselves – their personal character. Using a set of rules or sales tricks doesn’t work as well as having strong principles that direct the salesperson’s actions when overcoming sales objections. The salesperson’s ability to overcome sales objections starts way before they encounter the first objection.
Handling sales objections can make or break a future relationship with a sales prospect. Objections that aren’t handled properly can prevent a future meeting or purchase with a prospect. The salesperson must act in a way that honors the prospect’s right to say “no” to them.
Fear of Rejection
With that in mind, the most important personal strategy for the salesperson is to reframe objections as resistance. The word “objection” means disapproval or rejection. Psychologists have extensively studied the duality of human nature where people both fear rejection and seek approval from other people.
The need for acceptance is so strong in human beings that it dictates how people interact with everyone in their lives, including sales prospects and other people they do business with. The salesperson must first replace the word “objection” with the word “resistance” when thinking about obstacles that might arise during sales calls.
“Resistance” means blocking or holding something back. Resistance can be either positive or negative, whereas objections are always negative events. Resistance is easier to overcome than an objection because an objection requires someone to make a case or argument for their point of view, while resistance simply means removing whatever is blocking the way by creating a solution to the resistance.
Defeating resistance is something salespeople and prospects do together, while overcoming an objection requires one side to win and the other side to lose.
The Cost Objection
The most common objection is cost. Cost is the default excuse prospects give because it doesn’t have to be explained. But price is never a valid rejection point… it’s an excuse for not telling the salesperson the real reason a prospect doesn’t want to buy from them. There is nothing the salesperson can say or do to overcome this objection unless they honestly believe that cost is the real reason a prospect won’t buy from them.
The salesperson should accept that the cost is too great for a prospect and not push the sale by offering discounts or price considerations. However, that does not mean that salespeople should not try to find out what the real excuse might be for not purchasing.
This is how to overcome sales objections hiding behind a cost excuse, salespeople ask the prospect: “If cost were not an issue, what else would keep you from buying from us today?” Ask the question in a non-judgmental way so that it comes across as if the real reason doesn’t matter one way or the other, good or bad. In other words, the answer is simply information the salesperson needs to do their job. This takes some practice to pull off and salespeople should be prepared to deliver this question before they need to use it. Often the prospect will tell the salesperson the real reason simply because they asked.
Once the real reason is known as to why the prospect can’t or won’t buy from the company, the salesperson can then address the issue.
The Emotional Objection
The second biggest sales objection is that the prospect already has a sales relationship with another company – one of the competitors. This objection is harder to overcome because there is already an established relationship that has to be interrupted in order to get their business.
Zig Ziglar, known as the world’s greatest salesman, said, “Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings.” What this means is unless the salesperson establishes a bond stronger than the bond the prospect already has with their current supplier, they won’t be able to get the business.
The salesperson needs to assess the strength of the prospect’s relationship with their current supplier by asking another question, using the same technique used to before. Ask: “If you don’t mind me asking, who are you currently doing business with?” Watch carefully for the prospect’s reaction.
If they immediately name the company or the name of the person they usually deal with, the chances of interrupting that relationship will be low. But, like all relationships, things change over time – company policy changes, management changes, their favorite salesperson retires, etc. This prospect is someone the salesperson should checking back with because they aren’t ready to leave their current supplier, at this time.
If the prospect hesitates to give a company name, then their relationship is most likely fairly shallow with the company, and they aren’t emotionally invested with their current supplier. This is good news because the salesperson can now look for weaknesses in that relationship that can solved by the salesperson.
Now is the time to use a few sales techniques for overcoming objections.
Strengths and Weaknesses Technique
The first technique is to use what is known about the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. If the salesperson doesn’t know them, they need to learn more about what they are in order to exploit those weaknesses. Again, casually ask: “I heard [the competitor] has been having trouble meeting delivery schedules [or other applicable weakness] lately, has that affected your business?”
The objective of this question is to show the prospect that the salesperson is aware of what’s going on in the industry, and that it is a known weakness of that particular competitor. By asking about the competitor’s weakness as a question, it shows the salesperson is concerned about the prospect’s business and how it might be impacted.
The salesperson should pick a competitor weakness that the salesperson’s company doesn’t have, or at least one their company has successfully overcome. If the company overcame the problem, expand on how great the solution is and how it solved the problem. This is one way salespeople build trust with their prospects.
“If people like you, they will listen to you. If people trust you, they will do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar
Head Game Technique
The two biggest sales objections can be deal breakers, but most of the other objections are simply resistance to the sales process. And, this is where the head game technique comes in.
Again, the salesperson has to prepare themselves mentally before they meet resistance from a prospect in order to handle the resistance. Why are people in sales in the first place? If the salesperson thinks it’s to make money, their motivation is misplaced. Money is not the goal of sales; it is the by-product of success in sales. The salesperson’s motivation should always be to serve their customers’ needs.
“Selling is something we do for our clients – not to our clients.” – Zig Ziglar
If a child is doing something dangerous, or is hungry, or is struggling with math, or is sick, wouldn’t a parent want to fix those situations for their child to make their life happier?
Yes! And, it’s the same way the salesperson must think about their potential customer. The only way to find out what really is causing the prospect a lot of pain is to ask. But before asking, paint a word picture of the ideal product solution the company has for the prospect based on what is known about the competitors’ weaknesses.
For example, if the biggest competitor doesn’t have an in-house design team, and the salesperson’s company does, start by explaining what the design team can do for the prospect by saying: “Imagine what it would be like if you had a design team that could… [do whatever it is the company design team does].”
Do this imagination technique with two or three product features to get the prospect to open up to the company. The salesperson then has the opportunity to answer any resistance the prospect may have about the company’s products.
This is not the time for the salesperson to sell other company or product benefits; it is time to listen and answer the prospect’s questions. When the prospect is asking questions, they are already imagining how the company and its product will help them. From here it is easier to build a relationship or make a sale with little resistance.
Build a Brick Wall
In summary, overcoming objections in sales isn’t something successful salespeople do during the sales call; it is something they prepare for before making the call. It’s something they train themselves to do by practicing it before they need it. Trust is built like a brick wall, by laying one brick at a time. Great salespeople don’t rush the sales process if they experience resistance. They slow down and ask questions to better understand where the prospect is, what they really need, and why there is resistance. They overcome resistance by becoming a partner with the prospect to get their most painful problems solved
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