Few things are more infuriating than having a product you know is perfect for a buyer, but continually getting shut down, time and time again.
“We don’t have the budget.”
“We’re happy with what we have now.”
“I don’t see the value in what you’re offering.”
These are sales objections. And they are usually the biggest hurdle to you closing the sale.
But when addressed the right way, they can build rapport, provide valuable buyer insights, and (of course) lead to a serious sales win.
In this guide, we’re going to cover the most effective method I’ve found for objection handling. Once you’ve engrained this simple framework into your processes, you’ll be turning doomed deals into sign-on successes in no time.
Plus, we’re also going to look at some of the most common sales objections you’re likely to face and how to respond to them using the framework.
Sound good? Then let’s go.
What Is Objection Handling?
We’ve all been hit with the “no” bomb when talking with a prospect. Unfortunately, in our industry, it’s inevitable.
There will always be prospect’s concerns that need to be overcome.
But getting a negative response doesn’t necessarily mean the deal’s dead in the water. Buyers are people. And when people are unsure about making a change (e.g., buying your product), they’ll throw out excuses for not doing it. In the sales world, these are called sales objections.
Now, some of the excuses given to sales reps are legitimate, to be sure. Others are just knee-jerk reactions. But no matter what type of excuse you’re dealing with, you can, in fact, handle sales objections in a way that still leads to closing the deal.
Objection handling, then, is how you address those sales objections to continue to move the buyer through the sales process. Again, it’s all about understanding their concern (whether legitimate or not), addressing it, and easing their mind. Only then will they be ready to buy.
Why Do I Need to Master It?
Objection handling is a challenge to be sure.
HubSpot found 42% and 35% of salespeople think addressing objections involving urgency and price, respectively, were the top challenges they face.
Plus, there are some profound benefits to better sales objection handling. Benefits like:
- Need It to Close – The most obvious benefit, of course, addressing sales objections gives buyers peace of mind. It helps them better understand why your product is suitable for their organization. And that means you’re one step closer to “yes.”
- Provides Buyer Insights – Sales objections are a window into the mind of your buyer. What issues are they concerned about? What’s most important to them? These details help clue you into what points to focus on during your pitch to maximize your closing success.
- Demonstrates Your Knowledge – People want to buy from someone who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re scrambling to come up with an answer to an objection, you’re tanking the deal. But someone who effortlessly and effectively moves through the objection handling process is going to look like an expert.
- Builds Serious Trust – When you address your buyer’s objections, you’re proving you take them seriously. You aren’t just some smarmy salesperson only looking to close. Instead, you want to truly solve their problems. And that means more loyal, enthusiastic buyers for you.
The Objection Handling Process: 3 Steps to “Yes”
Now that we have a better idea of what successful objection handling does for us, let’s take a look at how to do it right using the framework.
This framework consists of three steps with two different options for the last step (more on that later) for overcoming common objections:
- (Really) Listen to the Issue
- Repeat the Issue Back Clearly
- (Option 1) Solve the Issue
- Confirm the Issue Is Solved
- (Option 2) Move Past the Issue
Now, let’s jump into the details.
Note: When it comes to the objection handling process, the best offense is typically defense (i.e., buyers not having negative sales objections or knee-jerk objections like “I don’t have time for this, just email me”).
The best way to prevent negative sales objections from happening in the first place is by asking confident, assertive questions that prove you’re someone to be trusted. That’s the best foundation to build on using this framework.
I cover how to ask these questions in my Selling Made Simple Academy. But in the end, knowing how to do so means fewer negative sales objections and objections you can solve to actually enhance the outcome of the sale.
1) (Really) Listen to the Issue
People like to be heard. That is no different when you’re overcoming objections.
And knowing you’re really truly being listened to is vital when it comes to addressing sales objections.
That’s why the first step of The Objection Handling Framework is to listen closely to the buyer when they’re describing their sales objection.
Half listening just won’t cut it here. I don’t care if you think you’ve heard this sales objection 50 times already this week. I don’t care if you’re put-my-life-on-it certain you know what they’re saying after the first few words leave their mouth. And I especially don’t care how much experience you have in the business.
Instead, you need to stop yourself and really listen. Listen to the nuance of what the buyer is telling you is holding them back from closing the sale.
And most importantly, shut the hell up.
Don’t interrupt them with your answer. And give a slight pause after they’ve posed their objection so they know it’s actually sinking in.
Only then can you move on to step number two.
Active Listening Is Key
Active Listening [ak-tiv lis–uhning]; noun: Making a conscious effort to not just hear but really concentrate on listening to what the buyer is saying.
I cannot overstate the value of investing all the time and energy it takes into developing your active listening skills.
Most salespeople are natural-born talkers. It may be why you got into the business in the first place.
But talking too much is detrimental to sales success.
To put a number on things, the sales intelligence platform Gong found the average B2B sales rep spends about 53% of calls talking. For reps in the bottom 20% of performers, that number was closer to 68%. However, top closer spent just 42% of the time talking, leaving a whopping 58% of the talking to the buyer.
Active listening comes with plenty of benefits. Benefits like:
- Not missing critical information
- Avoiding misunderstandings
- Having a better idea of the core problem (not always stated outright)
- Showing you care about what the buyer has to say
- Improving relationships
- Qualifying leads
Next time you run into a sales objection, be sure you consciously engage in active listening. It’s the foundation the rest of this framework is built upon.
2) Repeat the Issue Back Clearly
Now that you’ve put effort into really and genuinely listening to what the buyer is saying, it’s time to move on to the next step of these objection handling techniques—repeating the issue back to the buyer.
It looks as simple as this:
- Buyer – “I’m not sure if you can do it in the color I want.”
- Seller – “So you’re unsure if we can provide you with the correct color?”
- Buyer – “Yes, can you show me the colors you offer, and we’ll see if you have a green?”
It looks pointless, I know. But in reality, there are several reasons why this step is so essential:
- It avoids any misunderstandings you may have made on your part.
- It shows the buyer you’re listening.
- It’s an effective way to deal with knee-jerk sales objections.
The first two points are pretty obvious. So let’s take a closer look at the third point.
Often the buyer will have dealt with so many salespeople over their careers that they will have a bunch of automatic responses (knee-jerk objections) that they give to salespeople to get them out of their hair.
We need to get the buyer’s attention to break these objections. We’ll do this with a pattern interrupt as we repeat back the buyer’s question.
The Value of Pattern Interrupts
All we’re doing with a pattern interrupt is making the buyer think for a split second and then repeating their objection back to them so they can confirm if it’s a real objection or not.
Often, when you use a pattern interrupt as you repeat back the objection, the buyer will think about the objection they brought up and actually dismiss it themselves.
Let me give you an example:
- Objection – “I don’t have the budget.”
- Pattern Interrupt – “Ah, so you’ve worked with us before, and you know our pricing?”
Here the buyer is trying to use budget as an excuse. But unless you’ve just explicitly told them the pricing, how the heck do they know you’re out of budget?
Here’s another example:
- Objection – “I’m not interested.”
- Pattern Interrupt – “Ah, that’s why we should talk. It sounds like your current supplier must be a pain to work with, and you’re trying to avoid more of that pain by cutting this call short.”
We’re doing two things here.
First, we’re avoiding those usual phrases salespeople typically use (“reaching out,” “checking in,” “I just wanted to,” etc.). If you use the same language as everyone else, you’re going to be ignored like everyone else.
Second, I’m also proactively saying the opposite of what other salespeople do, too. For example, if a buyer gives you the objection “email me the details,” instead of ending the conversation and agreeing to their demand, you’ll use a pattern interrupt of “sure, do you know the details that you want me to send over”?
Pattern interrupts snap buyers out of those automatic responses and makes them receptive to the rest of what you have to say.
Pattern Interrupt + Repeat the Issue
After the pattern interrupt, the last part of this step of the objection handling framework is repeating the objection.
This happens in the same breath as the pattern interrupts itself. For example:
- Objection – “I don’t want to be locked into a contract.”
- Pattern Interrupt / Repeat It Back – “Ah, 100-year contracts are insane. Are long contracts the real hold up here?”
Or another example:
- Objection – “I’m happy with [competitor].”
- Pattern Interrupt / Repeat It Back – “If they did everything they promised I’d be thrilled with [competitor] too. They’re probably awesome! Is your love for [competitor] the only thing stopping us from booking a meeting?”
See how we’re getting the buyer to confirm that this objection is worth holding up the entire sales process for?
At this point, something remarkable happens. We get one of two responses. Either the buyer confirms that this is a true objection that we need to resolve before we can move forward, or they’ll be happy for us to just move swiftly past it.
3) (Option 1) Solve the Issue
Listening and repeating the sales objection back to the buyer has hopefully clarified whether this is an actual problem or a knee-jerk objection.
People don’t buy when they have genuine concerns. And they sure as hell don’t buy when those concerns go unaddressed.
If it turns out the issue is accurate, then it’s up to you to solve it.
Now, “issue” might be a strong word here. Because, when a buyer offers up a legitimate sales objection, it means two great things for you:
- It allows you to demonstrate expertise and earn buyer trust.
- It indicates an authentic and strong buying signal (after all, a buyer won’t go through all the steps of an objection if they weren’t seriously considering your product).
So with that knowledge in tow, it’s time to buckle in and simply solve the issue they’re worried about.
If it’s an issue of price, get to talking numbers. If it’s functionality, hit some of the core features. If it’s implementation, talk about your extensive onboarding program.
You should be able to hit each objection the buyer has with a clear, effective response that solves those woes. It also helps to prepare for objections beforehand (time to break out the flashcards?).
Confirm the Issue Is Solved
A short—but entirely necessary—sub-step here.
Once you’ve addressed the issue, it’s up to you to confirm that you’ve satisfied the buyer’s concerns.
This involves confirming your prospect:
- Heard your answer
- Understood your answer
- Accepted your answer
If you don’t complete this step, the buyer will likely bring the same objection up over and over in different forms. Finally, they have to say “yes, that makes sense” out loud. Otherwise, their brain just won’t register that this objection is solved.
This doesn’t have to be aggressive or complex either.
Just ask, “Did this answer your concern [name]?”
If you’ve solved the objection, move forward in the sales process. If you haven’t, ask, “What else is unresolved that I can explain?”
Keep going deeper and deeper until the buyer publicly and verbally admits that their objection has now been solved.
3) (Option 2) Move Past the Issue
If, after repeating the issue, the buyer admits the sales objection they raised wasn’t important, it’s time to move past the issue.
To be honest, not all issues are worth debating. And if you’re confronted with a knee-jerk problem that’s not really important, you can often move straight past these issues during your objection handling process.
I know this might feel sneaky the first few times you do it. But if the buyer has thrown out the sales objection unconsciously, they probably barely know the excuse they gave you.
If when you repeat the objection back to them, they look at you blankly or don’t give an immediate response, just say this:
“That makes sense. Let’s come back to that in a minute. We also do…”
And then carry on through the selling conversation. Unless the buyer actively brings you back to the objection, you can likely never discuss it again. Because remember, it wasn’t of any fundamental importance to the buyer.
You’re going to find that, once you learn to recognize them, around 50% of the objections that you get day-to-day can be skipped over just like this.
Common Sales Objections & Responses
As I mentioned earlier, it pays to study common sales objections for your product and come to calls with your responses ready.
Now, you may be wondering, “How am I supposed to know exactly what kinds of sales objections the buyer will have? Aren’t all buyers different?”
And that’s true; there are plenty of variations out there. But in general, you can boil down nearly all sales objections into one of four categories:
I’ve written extensively about the most common sales objections before. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the best sales objection handling examples and objection handling scripts to help you overcome buyer concerns.
“The price is too high.”
Objection Type: Budget
Ah, the pricing objection…
This is most likely going to be the most common objection you’ll face. Business is money. And money is essential.
This one really really test your objection handling skills.
Compare the cost of not solving the issue to the price of your product.
- “How much is [the problem you solve] costing you each month?”
- [Follow-Up] You said this problem costs your business about [$X] per month, but our service is just [$Y] per month, leading to savings of [$X – $Y] per month.”
Use price ranges to qualify leads and keep the conversation going.
- “Our price is within the [$ range] range per month. Where in that range could you see yourself investing in solving [the problem].
“We’re happy with your competitor.”
Objection Type: Value
This is the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality at play. Change can be tough. And most people are naturally resistant towards it.
However, that doesn’t mean putting effort into that change isn’t worth it. Sometimes all the buyer needs is to take a minute or two to learn about your product.
Give a light nudge for the buyer to compare options by offering a free trial or demo.
- “I completely understand where you’re coming from. Many businesses are constantly looking at other potential solutions to their problems; even it is just to compare with what they have now. Who knows, we may be a better match. How would you feel about attending a product demo to see how we compare?
“This is not a priority for us right now.”
Objection Type: Urgency
This is tricky because it’s a sign of a blow-off, it’s truly not on their to-do list right now, or they don’t fully understand the value.
As a result, there are a few ways you can handle this one.
Narrow down the real reason behind the objection.
- “If money and resources were no object, would you be willing to start with our product today?”
- [If no, there’s no hope. If yes, then dig deeper to discover the real objections.]
Ask them straight up.
- “When would be a good time to buy?”
- “What are your company’s other priorities right now?”
Take time out of the picture.
- “If I call you back next quarter, what circumstances will have changed?”
“I’ve never heard of your company.”
Objection Type: Trust
This type of sales objection indicates a lack of trust. But don’t abandon the call just yet, no matter how embarrassing it might be.
Instead, take this objection as an opportunity to give them a bit more information about the value you offer.
Ask if it’s okay to give them a quick elevator pitch highlighting your organization’s authority.
- “No problem! Lots of our loyal customers hadn’t heard of us before they signed up. Does it make sense for me to explain the value that we can bring to your business?”
“Email me more info and I’ll get back to you.”
Objection Type: Urgency
This is often a blow-off move. In most cases, the buyer is just looking to get rid of you. But that in no way means the conversation has to be over.
Instead, use a pattern interrupt to keep the conversation going.
Keep the conversation moving forward with a pattern interrupt.
- “I can do that. What particular details are you interested in learning more about?”
- [You can then give the buyer more insight into the details they list right over the phone. This keeps the buyer engaged and opens the door for more opportunities to further the sale.]
“This won’t work for us.”
Objection Type: Budget, Need, Urgency, or Trust
A jack of all trades with this one!
This sales objection is a smokescreen. And on its own, it isn’t telling you anything about the situation.
Your goal here is to eke out exactly why your product won’t work for the buyer.
Get more information and address the new sales objections one by one.
- “Can you elaborate on why you don’t think this will be a fit?”
- [They’ll likely respond with some variation of the four sales objections discussed above. From there, just use the appropriate response and follow the framework.]
At first blush, a sales objection can seem like a dealbreaker. From price point ultimatums to savvily sly brush-offs, running into these pesky problems can leave you wondering, “where’d I go wrong?”
But when you’re a pro at objection handling, you can turn these dire situations around completely.
The sales objection process can even make closing the deal more likely. You just have to know what you’re doing.
And with this time-tested objection handling framework, you can do precisely that. Just:
- (Really) Listen to the Issue
- Repeat the Issue Back Clearly
- (Option 1) Solve the Issue
- Confirm the Issue Is Solved
- (Option 2) Move Past the Issue
Using these objection handling techniques, you can demonstrate your knowledge, bolster your authority, and build some serious trust with your buyers.
And in the end, that means you’ll be closing more deals, earning more loyal clients, and building a more prosperous, lucrative career for yourself.