Overcoming sales objections
Five tactics to tackle common objections and turn a 'no' into progress.
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The most common sales objections at the top and mid of the funnel - if you ask sales reps - are price, competition, and features.
But I think those reasons are manifestations of misconceptions.
A concept has been presented, and it’s either been misconstrued by the rep or misunderstood by the prospect. Those misconceptions are about really the value of your product.
Value can be determined with three different questions:
Is it an important enough priority?
Is it worth the effort?
Will it be useful?
Your proposition has to satisfy these tests as the prospect makes almost every decision in the process. Whether to take the next meeting. Whether they’ll convince their boss. Whether they’ll sign off the budget request.
So it’s not really the monetary price the prospect is objecting to; it’s the perceived return of value.
It’s not that you lack features; it’s a perception that the product as is won’t deliver enough value.
The prospect isn’t asking how you’re different from a competitor; they’re asking why they would get more value from your product instead of theirs.
So when handling objections, don’t just answer the question or give a basic response. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can to position your value with stronger foundations. Use value nuggets to tie every feature to a tangible benefit and the overall value the prospect will attain.
Overcoming objections in the buyer journey
This post shares five approaches to overcoming objections throughout the buyer journey. These can be tackled in sales conversations, through collateral, or in marketing.
Preparation is key
The best reps I’ve worked with will spend almost as much time on customer conversations as they do on research and preparation. They use STRONGMAN or other sales methodologies to track progress and plan their sales strategy.
Some of the questions you’ll want to cover and understand include:
What are their priorities?
What are their options?
How will we perform against our competitors?
What is their competition doing?
What are the risks to their business/to their team?
What is the cost of inaction?
What is the cost of change?
What are the upsides and benefits to be realized?
These questions can be semi-answered through product marketing support - like your knowledge of the buyer journey, persona research, and ideal customer profile.
But the real meat is going to come from your discovery and sales meetings. Methods like SPIN questioning can help you extract what’s going on today, what problems that presents, the implications of those, and what the need-payoff (value) would be.
1. Feel, felt, found
Goal: show you understand them, and contrast their view with an alternative fact or interpretation
Feel, felt, found is a way to show empathy with the prospect but contest and challenge their opinion with new information or a different perspective. It’s best used in real-time conversations or emails, and does need some training to ensure it feels natural and organic.
I understand how you feel.
I / others have also felt this way.
However, I / others found that...
Goal: dial up the pain of other, more important problems that you can solve
Restating a prospect’s priorities - sometimes, bringing them back to reality - is useful when handling minor objections that can slow down a deal, especially in enterprise prospects where everyone in the stakeholder group has an opinion.
It’s really useful for showing vulnerability whilst dialling up the implications of the problems you’ve discovered.
You said X. In terms of priorities, would overcoming that challenge in the short-term be more important than the benefit that Y would provide?
Is that a high immediate requirement, or could you benefit from [value] straight away instead?
3. Clarify and question
Goal: get more information, understand what they want, dig to deeper objections, see if it is an absolute blocker
Some objections need to be challenged more directly. You’ll need to ask questions, actively listen, and try to tease out the real reasons behind an objection. I’ve found this is most prominent in feature objections, where you’re disrupting the status quo and trying to overcome the predicted cost of change.
Can you explain the features you feel are missing?
How would you use this feature?
How do you achieve this today?
What's the benefit of that?
How do you achieve the same outcome today?
What's the driving force behind this requirement?
Is this feature a deal breaker?
Goal: state our point of view and try to turn it around
Sometimes, you can’t win every conversation. You just need to state your perspective, offer an honest justification, and level with the prospect. Sometimes you’ll show vulnerability, sometimes you’ll keep it clinical.
We’ve arranged our pricing plans in a way that suits different types of customers and their needs. Larger businesses are most likely to X, which is why that capability is in our Enterprise plan. We do offer a discount for yearly payment and multiyear contracts, which can help with planning budgets.
Goal: pre-empt objections and face them head on
The best objection is one that never arises. Proactively tackling objections is a measure of confidence in both your understanding of the prospect, and your position of value. You’ll have a good understanding of the most common objection points, so make sure you’ve carefully considered and tested your key talking points.
Have you seen our pricing plans yet? You may find you’re looking at our Enterprise plan for the ability to do Y. I think it will be much better suited to your needs, let me show you why.
Moving beyond objections
To move beyond objections in sales conversations, you’ll need to state your case and ask for feedback:
What do you think of that?
How does that sound?
Is there anything else I can do or share to help you move forward?
Is this a blocker?
Don’t get held up by objections. You can try to keep pushing forward by proposing next steps or ask what you can do to help. Or cut your losses and de-prioritize the opportunity.
Either way, objections are a learning opportunity, so make sure everything is being captured and reviewed as part of your ongoing buyer journey and customer development process.
You’re battle-testing your product/market fit assumptions.
Focus tightly, test your confidence, and build momentum.
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