Commentary & Analysis
Handling Objections: It’s About Preparation and Identification
Sales objections can be daunting for even the most seasoned salespeople, creating a feeling of disapproval or opposition. Objections can come in many forms. This article explores how all salespeople, regardless of experience or tenure, can properly prepare for them.
By Keypoint Intelligence
Published: July 11, 2019
- According to an informal survey of Mailing Systems subscribers, 91% of respondents have lost business because their sales teams were unable to effectively address objections.
- As a service provider, it’s difficult to earn the trust of your customers and prospects if the value of your offerings can always be compromised by a simple objection.
- Objections will typically fall into one of three categories: Legitimate, Uninformed, or Avoidance. Salespeople must Listen, Pause, Clarify, Solve, and Confirm to effectively deal with all objections.
By Karen Kimerer
Sales objections can be daunting for even the most seasoned salespeople—merely hearing the word “objection” can create a feeling of disapproval or opposition. Objections can come in many forms, and it’s important for all salespeople, regardless of experience or tenure, to properly prepare for them.
Preparing for Objections
According to an informal survey of Mailing Systems subscribers that took place last month, the top three objections that print service providers (PSPs) face when selling print are as follows:
- “We currently use another vendor.”
- “Your price is too high.”
- “We don’t have the budget.”
If you’re like most salespeople, you probably encounter these types of objections quite a bit. According to the same survey, 91% of respondents noted that they’ve lost business because their sales teams were unable to effectively address the objections they encountered.
Figure 1. In the past 12 months, how many jobs/orders have you lost because you/your team were unable to address the client’s objections?
N = 11 Respondents
Source: Informal Market Outreach from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends
When many salespeople hear an objection, their first impulse is often to offer a discount! In fact, 18% of those who responded to InfoTrends’ informal market inquiry shared that they have offered more than 10 discounts in the past 12 months in response to prospects’ objections. In today’s competitive landscape, providing too many discounts can dramatically cut into your profit margins. Discounting also intensifies the effects of commoditization within our industry at large.
Responding to Objections
How do you respond to sales objections? Although having a script handy to quickly manage customer objections may seem like a great idea on the surface, contrived and canned responses might make you seem disingenuous and inexperienced. Furthermore, as a service provider, it’s difficult to earn the trust of your customers and prospects when the value of your offerings can always be compromised by a simple objection.
The Objection-Handling Process
Discounting is clearly not the solution, and relying on an “objection handling script” will quite frequently fall short of addressing the customer’s real concerns or barriers to purchase. Before you can effectively respond to an objection, you must first be able to identify what type of objection you’re dealing with. For the most part, objections will typically fall into one of three categories: Legitimate, Uninformed, or Avoidance. Each of these objection categories will generate a different response, yet the objection-handling process will remain the same in every case. Salespeople must Listen, Pause, Clarify, Solve, and Confirm to effectively deal with all objections.
While listening to your prospective client’s objection, remind yourself to hear what they’re actually saying instead of thinking about how you’re going to respond. Is the prospect saying they think your solution is great, but they don’t have much need for or interest in what you’re selling? Maybe they have more pressing projects and just don’t have the time to commit right now. Or perhaps they’re using one of the most common objections and telling you that your prices are too high.
Once you’ve learned about your prospect’s objection, you may be tempted to instantly launch into a rebuttal—but have the patience to think clearly about the opposition. Do they have a legitimate concern, do they need more information, or are they trying to avoid making a decision at all? Once you’ve taken the time to think, you’ll be better positioned to clarify the objection.
Clarifying the objection is important because it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to your prospect that you’ve listened to what they’ve said and are genuinely interested in their concerns. Defining and clarifying the objection improves impulse control and can help curb the urge to blurt out a well-rehearsed response. During this stage, you can also request additional details or a more thorough explanation to gain the insight you need to minimize or eliminate their concerns.
The next step in effectively managing a sales objection is to solve the problem and seek a resolution. During this step, take the opportunity to educate the prospect and clear up any misunderstandings. By asking a series of well-thought-out questions during this stage, you can help the prospect grasp the importance of your solution and also begin to see your offerings in a more positive light.
The final step in the objection-handling process is to confirm that you’ve addressed and resolved the objection as well as your prospect’s concerns. This stage of the process serves multiple purposes. For starters, it’s the best way to verify that you accurately understood the objection and then gain assurance that you can now move the sales process forward. It also enables you to establish your strength as a sales professional, demonstrates your attention to detail, and highlights your commitment to your customers' happiness. Once you’ve solved the concern, don’t get so excited that you overlook this crucial step.
The Bottom Line: Achieving Better Results
By preparing yourself for all objections, you can close deals without offering discounts that can affect your top and bottom line. Ask yourself—what would your business look like if you were able to raise your prices by 5% across the board? When you resist the instinctive urge to offer a discount each time you’re faced with a challenge that you’re not prepared to work out, your results can be similar to a profitable price increase.
The best approach for managing objections is to anticipate and minimize them before they occur. Objections are not something you can avoid; they are a natural part of the sales process. Handling them correctly takes practice, and the process involves active listening, discipline, and patience throughout your sales efforts. Transforming your approach to objections may require some work, but the results can be dramatic. Rather than offering discounts on every difficult order, you can overcome objections and foster relationships with satisfied and profitable customers.
Karen Kimerer, Director of InfoTrends’ Business Development Strategies consulting service, has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.