Our ability to identify and overcome objections is critical to our sales success. The challenge we face when someone objects is that they seldom immediately vocalise their underlying concern.
To be effective handling and resolving objections, we need to understand their intention for objecting and have a good strategy for handling it. That may sound straightforward until we experience the different types of objections we have to handle managing a one sales lead to closure. Multiply that by the many tens of sales leads we are managing in our sales pipeline. Objection handling becomes a critical skill we must master if we are to be successful in sales.
Someone’s intention for objecting can range from the reasonable to emotionally charged. Once we know their intention, we should ask ourselves
“What do they need from me to remove this objection?”
Their satisfaction is a guide for how we measure if we have handled their objection well or not.
To overcome an objection, we should not be afraid to challenge it. We do this by responding to an objection with a question. Cultivating a challenger mindset sharpens our skill being able to handle objections. Our passion and conviction also helps prompt those raising objections to slow down and reflect why they are objecting.
Unfortunately, too often we launch forward at full speed to deal with an objection. Sometimes we even try to change someone’s thinking. Doing so often results in both parties digging in their heals.
Asking the right questions prompts our audience to reflect on their instinctive response or request. We may not think a request for a reference site visit is an objection, but it is. Assume we have provided everything they need to make a decision. Why do they need to visit someone else? Rather than presenting a list of available reference sites, we should ask…
“Of course, but first, can you tell me what you intend to learn from the reference site visit?”
The objection may be a direct challenge telling us that they think our solution is too expensive. We should avoid defending our price positioning. Ask a follow-up question to slow them down and reflect on what they have just said. Respond with a question such as…
“That surprises me, who are you comparing us with?”
We need to step into their shoes and understand their perspective. The Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman wrote the book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. He uncovers fascinating facts about how we make decisions and describes two different ways our brains form thoughts. He calls them System 1 and System 2.
- System 1 is our animal mind, which is fast. These thoughts originate from our unconscious mind and can be rooted in our emotions, which includes fear and habit.
- System 2 is more logical, rational and deliberate. These thoughts originate from our conscious mind and consequently are much slower.
The request for a reference site visit may come from our unconscious mind and be habitual or fear based. If it is habitual, we should challenge our audience by slowing them down. Slowing down forces them to consciously reflect and rationalise their request. If we have provided all the information needed, they may drop their request for a reference visit.
If it is fear based, we may have missed a concern raised within their business. Knowing what it is, there may be a better approach to dealing with it than visiting a reference site.
When handling objections, we need to focus on how we can help our audience decide whether to proceed with our proposal or not.
I recently read an article from HubSpot listing 40 objections we can reasonably expect during a sales engagement. That got me thinking, could I categorise this list into a much shorter one based on the intention for raising an objection?
The result is a Guide I wrote called, ‘How to handle the seven most common sales objections’. I was able to reduce forty and many more objections I was aware of into a list of seven based on intent. Within this Guide, I present them in severity order from the reasonable to the irrational. You can download this Guide using the link provided below. Here are those seven intent based objections.
- The Reasonable Objection – We often do not consider these are objections. I include them because if not handled well, they will become an objection.
- The Support Objection – These are requests we should be anticipating to support our sales contacts understand and hopefully champion our solution.
- The Confirmation Biased Objection – These are objections raised when our message does not align with their idea or belief. I show you how to handle them and avoid inaction or perceived as being less relevant and valued.
- The Crunch Objection – Buyers frequently use these objections during the negotiation process to secure a better deal. I give you guidance how best to deal with these objections.
- The Stalling Objection – When we handle these objections, we should requalify our sales opportunity. Check this is a viable opportunity we should be investing our time in or not. Whatever the outcome, we must reconsider where we are in the sales pipeline and review our sales forecast it.
- The Irrational and Emotional Objection – These are the toughest to handle and are often fear based. We need to focus on moving the person to a more rational state of mind before we deal with their objection.
- The Snake in the Grass Objection – The person we are dealing with does not want us or our proposed solution. Logical reasoning usually fails, and we need to ask ourselves “Is it worth it?”
The Guide takes you through these seven intent based objections in more detail, providing valuable tips for handling objections. I hope you find it both useful and valuable.