10+ Sales Objections and How to Handle Them

Sales objections are every rep’s nightmare, especially during these times.

As a rep, you need to be clear about what you say to your prospects, how you position yourself (without sounding too desperate or worse, pushy), and mostly, how empathetic you are. 

But, the key here is to not get pulled down by these events. Don’t stop selling! Sales is still happening and is more important than ever for you, your company, and for the prospects who can benefit from what you have to offer. You just need to know what to say, at the right time, to overcome these sales objections. 

Having said that, here are five commonly heard sales objections during this pandemic, and some ways in which you can effectively handle them.

COVID-19 sales objections

Handling COVID-19 Objections - Freshsales

 

#1  —  “I can’t buy right now because of COVID-19”

This could possibly be one of the most commonly heard sales objections during this time. It might take you by surprise when you encounter it. So, how can you handle this? You can’t push your product or service as it is a difficult time for businesses, and you will come across as pushy. 

How to handle it?

One way you can tackle this is to side with them and hear them out. You and your company, too, are impacted, so you can be honest about the situation at hand and relate with the prospect. In most cases, the prospect is not explicitly shutting you down. They probably mean, ‘I want to buy, just not NOW.’ 

So, listen to them, understand their concerns, and talk to them about things that NEED to happen for a business-as-usual state, such as:

  • The reopening of the economy
  • People returning to offices
  • A decrease in infection rate

Get a list of priorities like these and ask them how many among these are important to them. Two out of three? Or all three? It can even be one. Depending on their response, keep in constant touch with them by sending updates on these metrics. When they sense that the needle is moving in the right direction, they will be able to commit to a purchase. 

This way,  you are asking the prospect when is the right time for them. Once they tell you what parameters are important for them, you can’t expect them to keep track of it, because they have other things to worry about. This is why it is important to keep in touch with them throughout this period.

Bryce Sanders, President at Perceptive Business Solutions, says,

Here’s the logic: ‘I’m not buying because now is not the right time.’ You are politely asking them, ‘when is the right time?’ or ‘how will you know?’ You want to be in touch, so you are tracking things together. If they really don’t want to buy and aren’t serious prospects, you will know.

#2  —  “Remove me from your mailing list. I find your emails not applicable to the current situation”

When you think about it, this isn’t really a sales objection. But you’ll hear it from your prospects if your emails contain:

  • Irrelevant information
  • Any insensitive or inauthentic information

What’s important to note here is that your prospects are not telling you they don’t want to buy your product. They’re simply telling you that your emails do not reflect the current situation.

How to handle it?

The situation we are in right now is completely different from what it was three months ago. So the emailing practices you had followed won’t apply now. The solution is a simple three-step process: Go back, evaluate, and recraft your emails from the ground-up. 

It is common to notice some salespeople who have not adapted to the current situation craft emails like any other normal day. 

Mike Brooks of Mr. Inside Sales states this: 

Examine if your email really is out of touch! Many sales reps and companies have not adapted to the current situation. You need to adapt to what is happening in the world right now.

It has been several months since the COVID outbreak took the world by storm, but many businesses might still not have modified their emails to fit the current situation. 

But this is okay. Changing it now is better than never and is simple. Do the following, for starters: 

  • Send your prospects safety tips
  • Check on them to see how they are doing 
  • Provide them with actionable tips 

This shows that you are empathizing with them, while still maintaining consistent communication. 

 

Related Article: Email Templates to Reassure your Prospects During this Time

 

#3  — “We’re happy with your product, but we can’t pay right now”

Ever since the outbreak of the disease, many businesses, especially in the SMB segment, have been hit pretty hard. Although the prospect may be happy with the product, post a demo or a trial, they may not have the budget, or implementing your solution may not be their top priority.  

How to handle it?

Again, this is not necessarily an objection. Reading between the lines, you’ll see that your prospects are telling you that they can pay, just not now. 

Most software solutions these days come with a trial period. And, if your prospect shows interest in buying, but is not able to, you can extend the trial period so that they can use your solution for longer. What is more important here, is that you don’t want to lose them as a potential customer forever.

Thomas Philip, a Senior Account Manager at Freshworks, deals with this effectively.

The strategy I use is, if the prospect is still evaluating the trial version of the product, I extend their trial period by say, 2 months. The way I see it is, they are satisfied with the product. If they aren’t ready to pay now, they’ll pay later.

Through this method, Thomas shows his prospects and customers that he is there for them during these hard times and this ensures that customers will remember for a long time to come.  

On the other end of the spectrum, there are products that don’t necessarily come with trial periods. For example, say a prospect is interested in buying a car from your showroom. What do you do then? You can’t give it away for free right? 

Not a lot of consumers pay the entire cost of these products upfront, instead, opt for monthly part-payments for a specific tenure. This requires them to sign some documents for financing, which will also prove that they are legally responsible for making the payments. So, if your prospect isn’t able to pay upfront, they can still purchase the product and the monthly payments can start after two months or a time period that is viable for your company. 

Bryce Sanders says,

Some products have a trial period.  In other cases the paperwork is completed upfront, payments start after 60 days [which implies that] they “legally still owe the money.”   In my opinion, two things need to happen. You need to get at least some money upfront [or] they need to sign paperwork legally binding them to pay later.

#4  — “Still transitioning to remote work/We don’t have the bandwidth for another product now”

Transitioning to remote work is, at best, a gradual process likely to be executed over a period of time. And, you don’t have the benefits of meeting your co-workers face-to-face and there are chances of miscommunication happening. When you hear this objection, your prospects are themselves transitioning to remote work, and with this on their mind, they may feel that they don’t have the bandwidth to purchase a product now.

How to handle it?

Put yourself in their shoes. You have transitioned to remote work as well, right? Be empathetic, offer your assistance, and most importantly, don’t let your communication with them die down.

The most important thing you can do as a salesperson is to keep in close touch with your prospects. Do they have problems during this transition? Leverage your marketing content and send them tips. If you don’t have relevant marketing content, then find and send them relevant articles that can help them out. All it takes is a simple Google search. 

You can also go one step further, and ask them if you can get on a quick call with them to discuss these tips. During the call, you should ensure that you’re only addressing their pain points. Discuss these across the value chain in the company and suggest ways that you feel can be helpful. Once they see that this solution makes sense for them, introduce the product or service you are offering, and show them how their challenges can be addressed with it.

Thomas Philip, a Senior Account Manager at Freshworks, has a method. 

He says,

If they tell me they are transitioning to remote work, I make sure that the communication doesn’t die down. I send them emails offering tips on how to easily transition to remote work and in the same email, ask them if we can have a quick chat to discuss those tips. My belief is that we should position ourselves as a solutions expert more than just a sales rep during these times.

This method presents you with a subtle opportunity to show them how your product works (obviously, if they refuse, you STOP pushing) and eventually make a sale. 

#5  — “We’re a little bit hurt right now because of the situation/We’re a not-for-profit company”

This is a sales objection if you take a step back, analyze, and not give up pursuing the prospect. Ask yourself what you can do and what value you can add. 

How to handle it?

Carry out some research on the company when prospects use this objection. If you feel they are genuinely hurt, you may consider offering them an upfront discount, depending on the market they’re in, their target customers, and the annual reports of the company.

Thomas follows this method and sometimes, he even gets a contract signed from them and allows them to make the payment later.

This again reinforces the fact that you are together with them and ensures that you don’t lose them even if they don’t pay immediately. This truly ensures that they’ll be your customer for life.

 

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9 Common sales objections

Here are nine common sales objections I’ve faced and some ways in which you can handle them. Keep in mind, I’m no expert nor do I say that my way is a bulletproof way. 

It’s just my way.

 

#6 “It’s expensive”

It’s no surprise that pricing is the most common objection … ever! It’s a make-or-break negotiation where true salespeople are born. Besides seeing how the product works firsthand, pricing is something every buyer wants to discuss on the first call.

The problem starts when the buyer gets turned off by the price. Closing the sale becomes challenging right then and there. We’ve all heard the sentence – “It costs too much”.

How to handle it? 

Whoever says there’s the right way to handle this predicament is mistaken. This is a situation where you really have to improvise and figure out what’s really the problem. Saying that something is expensive is relative and we never know what it truly means. My suggestion would be to focus on the context.

If you put a 4-digit price tag on your product, that might be a bit too much for a small business. But since you would want to tap into that particular market, I’d usually go about it by offering a settlement plan at a discounted price. Just ask them if pricing is an issue and then try to figure out what kind of incentive or discount you can give to seal the deal.

Another, more common situation, might be that they don’t understand the value you’re bringing. It’s an expensive trade for them. In that case, it’s really important that you have a social proof as your cavalry. Send them a case study and show them how you did it for a company that’s similar to theirs. If that’s a company they can relate to, even better.

Also, if you have enough resources to back this strategy up, you can relieve the pricing pressure by providing your service for free for a limited time. But don’t just sign them up for a free trial, work really hard to drive results. Never promise ROI you can’t get them in such a short period of time. Set realistic goals and then deliver on them.

#7 “It’s not our priority right now”

I see this sales objection as a typical break-up excuse you make while running away from a relationship. “I’m not ready to commit yet” or “It’s not you, it’s me”. More often than not it’s an excuse for something else. It’s rarely the case that your prospect doesn’t have enough time. People always have time to make more money or grow their business faster. You just have to help them understand why they need you.

How to handle it? 

Selling time is a crucial success component for a business. Me personally, I work in a SaaS environment. The most important thing why companies like Uber won is because they’re selling us time.

So whenever I’m having a negotiation with someone, I always talk about how my tool helps them get their time back.

Finally, we need to understand if our product is complex for someone. Eliminate friction whenever you can. No matter the position you have within a company, UX is EVERYTHING! If your product seems simple and fun to use, nobody will ever tell you they don’t have time for it.

#8 “I need to check with my boss first”

There are two reasons why someone would give this answer. The first one means that you didn’t do your homework when it comes to finding out who’s the decision-maker in the company you’re trying to sign.

The second reason is usually an excuse for procrastination. They are either not seeing the value you’re bringing to the table or are not that really interested in what you’re selling.

How to handle it? 

Before reaching out, make sure you’re speaking to the right person. Remember, your time is the most valuable asset you’ve got. Never waste it on useless things.

The best way to avoid this situation is to either visit their “About Us” page or simply go to their LinkedIn profile. It will take you five minutes to see who’s doing what. You can also check their Angel or CrunchBase profile. The latter two can be especially useful if your target is a startup.

As far as the second reason goes, you have to work on your listening skills. Have your prospect talk more than you. Ask questions every now and then rather than walking them through features. The goal is to get into the mind of your prospect. Try to understand if you’re selling the unsellable, or if you just need to change your value proposition.

#9 “We’re using your competitor”

If your prospect is using a product or service from your rival, the game can get uncomfortable. I don’t know about you, but this is the least favorite conversation I want to have. You really need to bring your A-game to win this account.

How to handle it? 

My A game is honesty. I ask them how happy are they with the product and explain to them that, just because my product is better (I only say this when my product is really better), I don’t want to mess with a habit they like. If they’re happy with my competitor, I’m just wasting time.

If I sense that they are not that happy, the job gets a bit easier. The focus then is to make them realize that they’re missing out on certain things. Positioning is the ultimate leverage in marketing and sales.

If they’re happy, then after hanging up the call, assess the prospect’s value for your business. If the prospect is worth your time and effort, understand why they love your competitor so much. They could either have a contractual commitment or have a preconceived notion that it might be difficult to get their employees to adjust to the new software.

Once you’ve figured out the exact reason, create a sales cadence to follow up with the prospects at regular intervals. The idea is to stay on top of their mind, so when they are ready to switch products, they know whom to get in touch with.

#10 “It looks complicated”

I think this is the most difficult sales objection you can get, especially if your product is in fact complicated. Complexity costs time. It drives customers mad and it’s not good for business. I’ve already said it earlier, the user experience is the glue between the user and the product.

How to handle it? 

Fix it! If you have to teach me how to use your product, you will lose. What you really want is to have me learn BY DOING. The goal is to make it simple for me to figure stuff on my own. Take Uber as an example. Once you open the app, you’re immediately prompted to request a ride. As a result, you’ve learned everything you need to know about how it works in under one minute.

On the other hand, if a customer got the wrong impression, just make sure you set things straight. Ask them what they mean by complicated and try to understand what’s actually the issue. Do it on the call, don’t send any follow-ups.

#11 “I’ve had a bad experience with a similar product”

This is a major opportunity for anyone who works in sales, regardless of the experience. Let me explain.

The prospect is obviously in the market for your product. They’re interested and are already in the latter stages of the sales funnel. Okay, they may have a bad experience with your competitor, but that’s actually a good thing. You can find out what was the problem and market against that.

How to handle it? 

The conversation will go like this.

Sales rep: “Hey Marie!”
Prospect: “Hi John!”

Sales rep: “Oh, for real!? You didn’t like <Your Competitor>?”
Prospect: “No, the experience was really bad!”
Sales rep: “Don’t mind me asking, but what was the issue?”
Prospect: “Their UX is really bad and their data is inaccurate.”
Sales rep: “You’re gonna laugh Marie, but you have the sales pitch for me here…”

And then you show why they should work with you. Don’t push them, badmouth your competitor, or come too aggressive. Use humor and facts. All in all, look forward to these situations because they are like free throws. You won’t always score, but it’s an easier situation as nobody’s playing defense.

#12 “I’ve heard not so positive things about your company”

No matter how hard we try, we will never have perfect word-of-mouth. Some people will like our products, others won’t. There are going to be both positive and negative reviews. But it really hurts when you have to deal with this sales objection.

How to handle it? 

To be completely transparent, I never had to resolve a situation like this one on a call. Negative comments and reviews yes, but never on a call. If I had to though, my priority would be to figure out the source. Why?

Because it’s important to see if this is a colleague of theirs who they respect or have a close relationship with. In my opinion, this changes the conversation completely as it can set my business for more awful word-of-mouth if I pitch it the wrong way.

If I realize that the source they’re referring to is objectively wrong, I will defend my ground in a completely unemotional way. On the other hand, if we were wrong, I’ll definitely admit the mistake and show empathy.

We can’t be liked by everybody. It’s not possible and we shouldn’t take it personally. It’s an honest discussion really.

#13 “I’m an analog person trapped in a digital world”

At the company I work with, in our first year, it was really hard to both sell and promote our product because it was so early. Our prospects were not “feeling it” and were not adopting the way we hoped. But, if you dig a little deeper, it’s just a fear of change. If your product or service actually brings value and not just because you say so, then all roads lead to fear.

How to handle it? 

My two cents here is you shouldn’t try to eliminate the fear factor. Quite the contrary, you keep pressing it where it hurts. Fear kills growth! No matter the size or revenue-potential of a client, they always have my undivided attention and I’m obsessed about creating win-win situations. I really mean that.

The tactic here is to rationally, by using metrics and real-life examples, showcase the winners and losers from a similar situation or an industry. Just to give you some context, Zuora made an incredible sales deck on this a few years ago. Go and take a look, and you’ll see what I mean.

#14 “Let me check with my team first”

Another interesting situation! It’s not the same as when prospects tell you they need to check with their boss. They might have decision-making capabilities in this case, but they are unsure and maybe want to get a second opinion, which is completely legit.

Of course, there are other reasons too, but it usually comes down to reinstating the value you’re bringing to the table.

How to handle it? 

I always go for a follow-up call with the team. The goal is to gather everyone who will use or benefit from the product in the same room. If prospects are really hooked and I’m confident that they will “promote” it to their team in the right way, I’ll skip the call. Otherwise, I need to be there. Marketing and demos should be taken with the utmost care.

Alternatively, a highly personalized and unique follow-up email to that person that he or she can forward further, maybe even to the entire team can make such a huge difference. It goes without saying that the content needs to be good.

So how do you respond to sales objections? Share your script in the comments below.

Cover Illustration by Anandh Ravichandran

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