Editor's note: This article is among our most popular, so we’ve updated it recently to keep things fresh.
Arguably the toughest aspect of any sales position is overcoming sales objections. Whether you offer a service or are a small retail business, today’s buyers are more discerning than ever. Your goal is to have a convincing response to the roadblocks standing between you and that coveted sale.
As many experienced sales people know, most sales calls are met with at least one objection. We've gathered the most common sales objections on budget, authority, need, timeliness, and value — along with steps for how best to overcome each.
How to overcome sales objections
This article will cover detailed steps, but here’s a high-level overview of approaches to take for each type of sales objection.
Budget: Demonstrate the unique value of your product
Authority: Identify the customer's concern and address that specific issue
Need: Take the extra time to describe the overarching problem or opportunity
Timeliness: Demonstrate why it's best to make the purchase now
Value: Introduce specific perks, guarantees, or return policies
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Budget: “We just don’t have the budget.”
Regardless of whom you’re targeting, pricing is one of the most common objections to a sale. For many sales professionals, the knee-jerk reaction is to immediately offer a lower price. Instead of offering up a fast discount (which is risky and raises questions about the value of your product), look for creative ways to show the unique value of your product or service.
Overcome the objection: Demonstrate the unique value of your product, and give specific examples of how the product will solve a problem for the customer.
Authority: “I need to consult with X.”
Then there’s the more difficult “My manager/boss says no thank you,” objection. It can seem like a dismissal when a customer states that they need to consult their boss or partner before making a decision, or that another decision-making authority has already rejected your product or service.
Overcome the objection: Always respect their position, but look at this objection as an opportunity to get other decision-makers in the room. Identify any underlying concern and address that specific issue. Rather than agreeing to wait for a phone call, keep the process moving by setting up a joint meeting with both parties or transitioning the sale to the final decision-maker altogether.
Need: “I’m happy with my current setup.”
Complacency, or an actual fear of change, can lead many potential buyers to dismiss a product before they’ve learned what it can do for them and their business. Remember that complacency is often a result of being ill-informed about a problem or opportunity, so if a potential customer seems complacent, you will need to take the extra time to describe the overarching problem or opportunity in depth.
Overcome the objection: If you can, bring up examples or case studies about their competitors who have made some recent changes similar to the one you are suggesting. Fear of change is a natural reaction, so you will need to calm the customer’s concern by showing examples of positive change within the client’s industry to provide a boost of confidence.
Timeliness: “We’re too busy right now.”
You’ve likely heard this or something to the tune of: "Contact me in a few months when we have more budget." This objection happens particularly around the holiday season. In this scenario, you must make it so compelling for them to buy — right now — that they feel as if they’ll truly regret passing up the opportunity.
Overcome the objection: Simplify the buying process in some way, and give them attractive terms that are only available in a specific window of time. Make it clear that “waiting until the first of the year” will mean missing out on a great opportunity.
Before jumping into the conversation, however, be sure to clarify with the customer if you are simply calling at a bad time, or if there is an actual business problem overloading them. If it's a bad time, find out a better time to call. If it's a business problem, that gives you the information you need to show how your product will make the customer’s life easier.
Value: “I need to think about it.”
This objection is a combination of budget, authority, need, and timeliness. If the customer doesn't see the value in the product, then it shows a lack of trust or certainty in what you’re offering. Here, you'll need to build credibility with the buyer.
Overcome the objection: Trust is critical in a healthy business relationship. Selling value also requires that you quickly demonstrate to the customer you can be trusted. It breaks down to three elements that you can keep in mind and make sure to bring forward in your customer interactions:
1. Capability: Do you know what you’re talking about, and are you really able to help solve their problem?
2. Integrity: Do you do the right thing, especially under pressure?
3. Benevolence: Do you have the customer’s back, and do you genuinely want to help them?
If you can successfully build trust with customers, you’ll have a much easier time overcoming this value objection, and matching your product’s values with your customer’s values.
Be proactive when overcoming sales objections
As a sales professional, it’s absolutely necessary to understand and be prepared for the most common sales objections.
Knowing every detail and feature of your product or service is important, but getting into the true core of the customer's objection is equally crucial. Respectfully ask your buyer open-ended questions that probe deeper into what’s behind their objection.
With an understanding of your customer's wants and needs and your product's offerings, you can work on overcoming sales objections based on budget, authority, need, time, and value.
Above all, remember that your goal is to convince the potential buyer that they can’t, or shouldn’t, live without your product or service. The art of sales is inherently associated with objections, but most can be overcome by building a sense of credibility, trust, and re-framing the way your buyer sees what you're selling. When it comes down to it, sales is about showing the product/service at the angle that's best-suited to the conversation.
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