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What are the Best Strategies to Approach B2B Sales Objections?
October 2nd 2020
Sales Best Practices
What are the Best Strategies to Approach B2B Sales Objections?
Handling customer objections can be a bit tricky, and many sales professionals fear this situation. Nothing defeats an inexperienced salesperson faster than an unexpected objection. However, one of the best skills to have in B2B sales is the ability to turn sales objections into opportunities. Objections communicate important and valuable information about customer concerns, needs, and fears. Most objections can be effectively handled with a simple reframing process that puts the issue into perspective.

If you’re tired of losing deals to responses like, “Your price is too high,” “Now isn’t a good time,” or, “We’ll buy if you add these features,” it’s time to start planning about overcoming objections. Instead of hoping your prospects won’t have objections (they always will), be prepared with some strategies of handling objections.

Table of contents:

  • The most common type of sales objections
    • Budget - “It’s too expensive”
    • Authority - “I need to talk to my team”
    • Need - “We already work with [competitor]”
    • Need - “We already work with [competitor]”
    • Timeliness - “I don’t have time right now”
  • Strategies for overcoming B2B sales objections
    • Method 1: Do preliminary research
    • Method 2: Use tactical empathy
    • Method 3: Use mirroring
    • Method 4: Use open-ended questioning
    • Method 5: Use (mis) labelling
    • Method 6: Avoid talking about the product itself
    • Method 7: Use a trial-close
    • Method 8: Turn objection into an opportunity

The most common type of sales objections:

Customer objections can revolve around an array of issues. However, if you categorize there are four common types of objections you’ll hear when you're trying to make a sale, and they all revolve around budget, authority, need, and timeliness. Knowing how to recognize these objections and having a process in place to handle them is key to closing a sale or removing a poor-fit prospect from your sales queue.

1. Budget - “It’s too expensive”

Price objections are the most common among sales objections. Why? Because money is on top of every buyer’s mind. But the price is all about perceived value. Price, Cost, ROI concerns all fall into this category. Prospects may say things like, “I don’t have money for your product,” or “There’s no room in the budget for us to buy your product.” They may even ask if you can give them a discount. So, when a person brings up the issue of money, how should you respond?

Best Practices:

When a prospect says your product is too expensive, it isn’t always about price. Concerns about the cost of your product can go deeper than the sticker price. Dig deeper to find out why they aren’t happy with the product's price. Is it just sticker shock? Or is it that they don’t see the value in your product for the price that they have to pay? Getting to the root of the objection is key - it will help you choose the right language to use with the prospect.

Make the value of your solution known first, and you will significantly minimize the likelihood of this objection arising. If the prospect isn’t convinced of the value of your product, you’ll probably want to explain how much he or she could save using your product. You can also ask the prospect why they think your solution is too expensive. The prospect then has to break down their reasoning which gives you another insight into their perspective.

Example:

Customer: “We don’t expect you to buy anything from us right now. We are just looking to show you our solution and see if it is of value to you and your business [Lead this into a further question about their needs].”

Seller: “Can you tell me a little more about why you think the solution is too expensive?”

2. Authority - “I need to talk to my team”

In this objection, prospects may try to pawn the decision off on someone else. Most of the time, they’re procrastinating on making a decision. This is a common objection when there are multiple decision-makers within a company. You’ll hear, “I have to speak with my boss/CEO about this before deciding”.

If you have correctly qualified your prospect, then you will be fully aware of whether you are speaking to the decision-maker or not.

Best Practices:

First, validate that the objection makes sense. Validating the prospects' concerns will help you better connect with them. Then you can keep the process moving by offering to talk to all parties. Getting all decision-makers in one room will help you find out what the third party's needs and fears are about your product or why the decision-maker said no. If you can thoughtfully address all the objections, you’ll have more control over the sale and facilitate the decision - you can present as much insight as possible.

Example:

Customer: “I need to talk to my team.”

Seller: “I understand. If it makes it easier for you, I can hop on a call or come in for a meeting to explain the solution to your team. When would be the best time to do this?”

3. Need - “We already work with [competitor]”

There is a high possibility that the customer is already using an alternative service. For complex products and services, this is a prevalent objection a sales rep will face. You’ll recognize this in the field when someone says something like, “You know, we really don’t need your product or service,” or “We are already using [competitor]”. This type of objection is hard to handle. You’ll need to focus on the pain points of customers and show the value the customer can achieve. In case the customer is already using an alternative service, focus on competitive advantage.

Example:

  • “We’d love the opportunity to show you how you can achieve [XYZ] milestones by using [our product]?”
  • “Can I share a case study with you that shows how a company similar to yours was able to reduce/increase ____ by switching from [competitor] to our solution?”
  • “I understand. May I ask you how your experience has been so far with [competitor]?”

4. Timeliness - “I don’t have time right now”

Many sales representatives will have prospects procrastinate or put the sales process on hold. They'll say things like, “It’s not the right time to make a decision. Please call me in a month or so once our imminent project/hiring plan/budget/etc. is in place.

The customer may also try to stall by saying “I don’t have time right now”. This means “this isn’t important to me right now”.

Best Practices:

The best way to overcome this sales objection is to politely ask the prospect if you are calling at a bad time. If a customer is being upfront that they don’t need the service at this time, find out the reason for the delay. Remind the prospect of the long-term payout from buying your product or service right now. If the upcoming project your prospect is citing is somehow related to your product, one thing you can emphasize is how much better it would be to purchase your product before the big change. For example, if the customer is planning to reach a new market and expecting significant inbound reach, you can emphasize how opting for your product right now would drastically increase their revenue goals.

Example:

  • “Totally understand. If you don’t mind me asking, what are your company’s other priorities right now?”
  • “I hear you, it’s a crazy time of year. What other time would work best for you? Just looking for 5 minutes to show you how we can help reduce your stress and give you more time in the day.”

Strategies for overcoming B2B sales objections:

We isolated the seven most effective strategies to overcome B2B sales objections:

  • Method 1: Do preliminary research
  • Method 2: Use tactical empathy
  • Method 3: Use mirroring
  • Method 4: Use open-ended questioning
  • Method 5: Use (mis) labelling
  • Method 6: Avoid talking about the product itself
  • Method 7: Use a trial-close
  • Method 8: Turn objection into an opportunity

1. Method 1: Do preliminary research

As a sales rep performing preliminary research helps you to understand the prospect’s business well which will help you to handle their objections well.

Best Practices:

  • Find out what technologies they have in place already (if possible): Understand how they interact with your product.
  • Try to uncover unknowns during your early-stage calls: Don't be so eager to close for a next meeting that you don't ask everything necessary.
  • Don't ignore red flags: It can be tempting to feel like you're moving a deal along, but you'll end up hurting yourself later.
  • Do not assume what their objections are: Uncover a customer’s potential pain points early on through the discovery/prospecting stage. The best way to do this is by asking open-ended questions to let the prospects open up.

2. Method 2: Tactical empathy

This is about making the prospect feel you are here to solve their problem. You will make them feel you understand their perspective and the best way to achieve this is by listening.

Best Practices:

  • Be strategic about listening and formulating responses to their objections: Don't talk over them and directly address the concerns they voice.
  • Respond to what they are saying: Be clear that you understand them (e.g., I understand [what the customer just said]. Mirror the customer explanation. This shows them that you are completely into them and you are listening to each and every word. This makes them comfortable and will help them open up.

Don't do this:

  • Customer: I’ve never trusted sales engagement software.
  • Seller: Well, it really works in [XYZ] ways. Can I send you some documentation?
  • Customer: No, I’m not interested. [Click]
  • The customer drops the call because you have not directly addressed their concern.

Do this instead:

  • Customer: I’ve never trusted the sales engagement software.
  • Seller: Why is that? Is there a reason or have you faced any problems in the past.
  • Customer: Oh, I don’t know...I just don’t.
  • Seller: I can understand the feeling. What kind of research have you done around sales automation for your industry?
  • Customer: Uhh, I’ve googled a little, but not much.
  • Seller: What kind of information would help put you at ease?
  • Customer: It would help to see other organizations of similar industry and size who have gone through this.
  • Seller: Absolutely! I can send you over a couple of case studies and even connect you with Mr. X at [similar company] to discuss his experience using our sales engagement software.
  • Customer: Great, thank you.
  • Seller: Once you talk to our customer for reference, what should be the next steps and can we agree on scheduling a call to discuss the next steps, it can be a yes or a no.

The seller uses open-ended questioning to respond to what the customer is saying.

Throughout your interaction, speak as little as possible (it’s not about you, it’s about them). By talking too much, you could be standing in your way. The more information you can get, the better. This only happens when you stop talking. In any conversation, if you give people the space to speak, they will reveal things about themselves. Don’t let those go ignored! If they drop anything about a person, ask about it. Find real and genuine ways to connect with them throughout the call.

3. Method 3: Mirroring

This strategy involves recycling words or phrases that the customer uses, allowing you to build rapport with a customer by letting them know you are hearing them and subconsciously make them believe you are more like them.

Best Practices

Repeat certain words, expressions, and/or statements that the customer uses back to them (e.g., So what I hear you saying is that… and repeat the customer’s objection).

Example

  • Customer: I’m just not sure I can get upper management to buy-in for a sales automation software…
  • Seller: Upper management to buy in?
  • Customer: Yeah, they tend to be pretty against implementing new sales technologies.
  • Seller: Against implementing new sales technologies?
  • Customer: They’ve been burned in the past: we tried implementing a 200k solution last year and it fell flat.
  • Seller: Fell flat?
  • Customer: Yeah. [They explain what happened].

Through mirroring, you have some valuable info and can start digging into what went awry last time and respond directly to those concerns.

This might seem severe, but it’s all about how you deliver this. Make sure your tone is gentle and thoughtful, not pushy or overly questioning. Practice on a normally tight-lipped friend next time you're in a social situation: you'll be shocked at how much they open up. Also, you should strike a balance when using the mirroring technique and you will learn this over a while with practice.

4. Method 4: Open-ended questioning

Open-ended questions (questions that start with How, When, Who, What, and Why) make a customer offer up information that you may not think to ask directly and allows for the possibility of them sharing more. This technique makes them feel empowered to answer how they choose rather than within the confines of a yes or no question. Be cautious:Why questions that require more technical, calibrated answers from a customer can be construed as accusatory and put the customer on the defensive.

Best Practices:

  • Avoid Yes or No responses by asking questions that start with How, When, Who, What, and Why (especially How and What).
  • Avoid asking questions that start with Do/Does, Would, Is/Are.
  • Except for certain situations, avoid using “Why” questions. These situations include:
  • If you're an experienced seller and feel comfortable reading the energy. (You have to be sure it comes off as strong-willed and assertive but not rude.)
  • If you know the customer well or have a particularly good relationship with them.

Example:

  • How can we make this happen?
  • Who needs to be bought in to push this through?
  • What features would you need to see for this to work for you?

5. Method 5: Approach sales objections by using (mis) labelling

Labelling/mislabeling enables the seller to acknowledge and accurately label a problem back to a customer. A cold customer is more likely to respond to mislabel.

Example of mislabeling:

Customer: I just don’t understand why you can’t give me [XYZ]!

Seller: I understand you must feel frustrated and like we should be able to make this exception. Unfortunately, if we do, [XYZ] will happen and your problem won’t be fixed.

6. Method 6: Not talking about the product itself

Avoiding talking about the product you are selling lowers the customer’s guard by detailing hypothetical situations beneficial to them: it paints a picture of the pain point your product solves.

Best Practices:

  • Do not talk about the product. Focus on the pain points your product eliminates and the opportunities/benefits it creates rather than specific features of the product.
  • Instead of talking about the product itself, talk about the goals that are achievable with the product.

Example:

Imagine how much time you'd save if all of your meetings were cut in half.

Imagine never having to dry your hair again (rather than We’re going to shave your head).

7. Method 7: Use a trial-close

The use of a trial-close will ensure that you’ve correctly understood the objection and that you’ve identified all key concerns.

Best Practices:

When you’ve understood all the objections, use language like, So are you saying if we address X, Y, and Z you’d be able to go forward with the deal?

Example:

So, if we can meet you at a quarterly billing cycle rather than annual, ensure top tier support for the first year, and provide you with the relevant documentation, you’d be able to sign off on this deal? This way, if you’re missing something, they can say ...and we need [X] and that can be addressed.

8. Method 8: Turn objection into an opportunity

If the customer is straightforward and gives a direct “hard NO”, one way to change the customer's mind is to show them a perspective they may not have previously considered. The key is to build your response around information your prospect has already acknowledged is true. This makes it harder to argue with you without being contradictory.

Best Practices:

“We already work with a competitor.” Reframe their response to position your offering as either 1.) complementary to the existing solution or 2.) uniquely different.

Example:

Customer: Thanks [X], but we are a longtime [current solution] customer and, while not a proper engagement platform, it works really well for us.

Seller: Thanks for the response [Y]. If you are interested in taking a look at our solution, let me know. We are starting to see more and more companies using [our solution] for properly managing their sales engagement for both inbound and outbound efforts.

So start overcoming objections, and stop letting them overcome you. In B2B sales, changing your mindset to look at sales objections as opportunities will hands-down improve your outcomes. Next time you practice your pitch, practice your objection handling skills. Every time you successfully overcome an objection, make a note of what you did.

Handing objecting smoothly and professionally needs a lot of practice and experience. Keep improving your objection handling strategies and keep refining your sales pitch accordingly. With proper planning, in no time you’ll be ready to turn those objections into opportunities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Manisha Yadav
Product Marketing Specialist
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Manisha Yadav
Product Marketing Specialist
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