Sales objections are every rep’s nightmare.
It’s difficult to anticipate and prepare for all the situations you face on a daily basis. Nevertheless, there are patterns you can take notes from — similar to a basketball player watching a game film.
You get to see the little things that can make a huge difference in your sales pitch. That doesn’t mean you can always use them to your advantage, but they can be your ace in the sleeve from time to time.
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”.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 contract 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No matter how hard we try, we will never have a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.