The objections come fast and furious, flying at your head as though shot from a tennis-ball machine.

"This is too expensive."

"I've never heard of you."

"We don't need what you are selling."

Salespeople know they will be shown the door more often than a Price Is Right contestant. But there is a difference between rejections (which are final) and objections (which must be recognized and addressed). Objections are a natural part of the sales process. If the buyer's not finding something to question, she's probably not paying attention.

Rookie salespeople want to dismiss objections as quickly as possible. So they "answer" before the buyer has a chance to explain her concerns. If a buyer has just told you, "The price is too high," you shouldn't come back with, "No it's not! Let's talk about ROI!" That's like giving the buyer a stiff arm to the face and will likely cause her to dig in further. 

A better approach is to acknowledge the objection and offer a follow-up question. So, for example, you might say, "Tell me more. Is it way more than you planned to spend? Or is your budget spoken for by other things?" By starting a conversation around the objection, you demonstrate confidence and credibility. The buyer may say something like, "Well, a bit of both. Your pricing seems high. And because this is new to us, we hadn't budgeted for it anyway." Now you're talking.  

Additional follow-up questions allow you to address the objection head-on. "I totally understand. Let's discuss both. Our pricing does skew higher because we include a level of service that we believe goes much farther than other options. When you purchase products, how do you factor in service quality?" Alternatively, you might say: "I totally understand. I realize that I'm bringing an entirely new opportunity to the table, and this may not be the right time for you. If that's the reality, I get it. When things like these come across your desk, how do you decide whether this is something you should explore?"  

Stay in questioning mode as long as you can. Resist the temptation to dive to the answer. That can be hard, especially if you've already heard the same objection 10 times this week.

Once the buyer has had an opportunity to put some flesh on the objection, it's time to respond. Trot out your ROI argument. Tell her why you are here to stay. Show her how other buyers who didn't think they "needed" your product benefitted. 

The final step of handling an objection is to close that part of the conversation. Probably you won't have radically altered the buyer's perspective. But you've given her something to chew on. "Thanks for walking me through that," you say. "I've got some perspective on your decision, and that's helpful. Can we leave that topic for now and move on? Or do you have additional concerns about this?" Show the buyer that your confidence isn't shaken. 

Not all objections are surmountable, of course. But such conversations yield lots of information about how customers make decisions. You may not win the sale. But you will have learned something.

Published on: Apr 10, 2014