Objection handling is one of the most misunderstood and under appreciated aspects of selling. Inexperienced sellers will invariably see objections as a negative. But, in truth, objections are hidden buying signals. They’re like gold when you first find it: dusty lumps of earth, coated in mud and muck – not much to look at, and easy to mistake for something that’s not worth your time. The truth is this: to object to something, you must first care enough. Beware the buyer who sits in front of you, giving you the occasional nod and saying little more than “that sounds great”. I’ll take a buyer who fights back a little any day.
Put in another light, objections are simply indications that your buyer wants to move forward, but there are a few remaining doubts or questions that need to be resolved before doing so. Think of them as an explicit expression (by a prospect) that a barrier exists between the current situation, and what needs to be satisfied before buying from you.
At its core, objection handling is simply about overcoming that barrier, and ensuring the road ahead is clear so you can move towards closing the sale.
At RAIN Group, we recommend handling objections in five easy steps.
1. Listen fully to the objection
The first step in objection handling is to full listen to the objection. Don’t judge, and don’t spend your time mentally rehearsing your answer. Don’t think about your needs, or how much you want this client. Simply listen, without intent, and without judging what your prospect is saying.
2. Seek to fully understand the issue
The second step is to fully understand the issue. You see, what your prospect raises as an objection is almost never the real issue. By asking questions, you can help them clarify what they mean, uncover new information and get clear on what the real objection is. For example, when your prospect says “the investment is too high”, what does that mean ? They don’t have the budget ? Any budget ? Some budget, but not enough ? They have it, but don’t want to spend it ? Not with you ? Not for what you’re offering ? Too high compared to what ? How much too high ?
And then again, perhaps they are simply trying to be nice, and telling you the investment is the issue where it’s something else altogether.
By asking questions, you’ll gradually uncover what the real objection is. Only now can you start to respond to it. Don’t skip this step. Ever.
3. Choose your response
Once (and only) when you fully understand the objection can you start to respond to it. When you do, make sure you:
- respond only to the objection that is stated (don’t overcompensate)
- answer briefly and succinctly
- propose a clear process for resolution
- help them see how your process would resolve the objection
- help them see how your process can be put into practice
- don’t “buy it back” (tell them you understand their point of view, but that doesn’t mean you agree with it)
4. Ask whether the proposed solution will resolve the objection
Most of the time, it’s a good idea to position your solution as a “draft” or option (“I believe this could work, but I’d like your thoughts on this”). This ensures you can consider new alternatives if needed, don’t come across as telling them what to do, and puts you and your buyer in a mood of collaboration rather than opposition.
Don’t be discouraged when your prospects says your solution will not solve their problem. Simply ask them what they think would work. And don’t accept a “yes” too eagerly either; ask them if they’re 100% sure this would clear the issue, before moving forward.
5. Continue working toward closing the sale
After you’ve both agreed on a solution, continue to work towards closing the sale. Propose a step-by-step process for implementing your solution. Get their commitment on taking action. If possible, take next steps right there in the meeting.
Paint the picture of how the outcome would satisfy their needs. And continue to advance towards the close.
There you go, a simple, 5-step objection handling process that works every time. Listen. Understand. Respond. Confirm. Continue.
If you’re having trouble overcoming objections, try this process in your next sales meeting. And do me a favour: drop me a line or leave a comment below to tell me what results you got.