Ultimate Guide to Handling Objections in Sales

8 Jun 23

Handling objections in sales is a normal part of the process. It can occur for different reasons and take many forms. Handle them with the ACAC model.

While objections are frustrating, they can be valuable opportunities to build trust, address concerns, and ultimately win the sale. By understanding the root causes of objections and adopting proactive strategies, sales reps can confidently navigate these challenges, leading to improved outcomes and stronger customer relationships. Let's delve into the art of handling and preventing unnecessary sales objections.

Table of Contents

The Value of Customer Feedback

Asking for customer feedback is invaluable for helping sales professionals understand the customer's perspective and gauge their level of interest. Requesting feedback also shows that you care about and value your customers' opinions.

Some examples of asking for feedback might include:

  • "How does that sound to you?"
  • "What are your thoughts about that?"
  • "Can you see this as a viable solution for your organization?"

Asking for feedback also allows customers to raise issues and concerns. When these objections occur, how you respond to them is often just as important to the customer as how you address the actual concern. Listening to the customer and showing a keen sense of curiosity and empathy can go a long way toward building the relationship.

3 Common Sales Objections (& Tips to Handle Them)

Understanding and addressing different objections can help sales professionals navigate the buying process more effectively. Here are three common sales objections and tips for handling them:

Objection #1: "It's Too Expensive"

When prospects perceive a product or service as too expensive, it can hinder the sales process. Addressing this objection requires emphasizing the value and return on investment (ROI) your offering provides.

Tip: To overcome these price objections, communicate how your solution can save them money, increase efficiency, or generate revenue. Additionally, explore flexible payment options or cost-saving alternatives that align with their budget constraints. Timing can also play a role; discuss how delaying the purchase might result in missed opportunities or increased costs in the long run.

Objection #2: "Why Should We Buy from You?"

In a competitive marketplace, prospects may question why they should choose your company over competitors.

Tip: To help them make the decision, differentiate yourself by highlighting your unique value proposition, such as superior product features, exceptional customer service, or a strong track record of success. Build trust by providing customer testimonials, case studies, and industry certifications that validate your credibility. Address any perceived risks by offering guarantees, trial periods, or testimonials from satisfied customers who overcame similar concerns.

Objection #3: "What Is in It for Me?"

Prospects often raise objections when uncertain about how your offering addresses their specific needs or lacks sufficient information to make an informed decision.

Tip: To address this objection, take the time to understand their requirements and pain points, then tailor your pitch to demonstrate how your product/service directly meets those needs. Provide relevant examples, success stories, and data-driven evidence to substantiate your claims. Ensure clarity by answering their questions, addressing potential concerns, and providing detailed information about your solution's features, benefits, and implementation process.

Prevent Unnecessary Sales Objections

No matter how good you are at selling, objections are bound to come up during the sales process. But here's the thing: great salespeople can actually prevent many of these objections from happening in the first place.

Think about objections you've probably heard before:

  1. "We don't have the budget for this right now. Call us again next quarter."
  2. "Why should we change when what we have already works?"
  3. "We have too many other things to focus on right now."

Now, take a moment to think about which objections could be avoided and which ones are unavoidable. The key is to focus on your selling approach to minimize unnecessary objections. Often, customers raise objections not because of what you're selling but how you're selling it.

For example, if you talk too much about features, don't listen to the buyer, or fail to ask enough questions to understand their needs, objections are more likely to arise.

To prevent these objections, you need to do a better job of uncovering and addressing the buyer's needs. Help them see how your product can meet those needs.

Firstly, successful salespeople keep asking questions until they fully understand what the buyer needs. They listen carefully to what the buyer is saying. Here's a list of 21 open-ended questions for sales you can use.

Secondly, they explain the benefits of their product in a way that helps the buyer connect their needs with what the product offers. It's all about selling based on value, not just listing product features.

Why is that important?

Buyers don't really care about product features on their own.

They only value features when they see how those features can solve their specific problems. If buyers don't see the connection between their needs and your proposed solution, they won't see the value in it. And when that happens, they'll likely raise objections about the price.

Now, let's talk about another common mistake.

Sometimes salespeople struggle when faced with objections related to company policies, technological limitations, or regulations.

For example, let's say you're selling a software application, and you find out early on that it doesn't integrate with the buyer's accounting system. So what should you do in this situation?

At the beginning of the sales process, make sure to highlight the value of your solution. It's a good idea to bring up the integration issue before the buyer does. By addressing it upfront, you can explore alternative options together. If the objection comes up towards the end of the sales process, the buyer may feel deceived, and there may not be enough time left to find alternative solutions.

Why Customers Object

In a perfect world, customers wouldn't raise any sales objections. Sales professionals would precisely identify each customer's needs and then present a carefully crafted solution that neatly addresses each of these needs. Customers would then clearly understand how they would benefit and quickly make a favorable purchase decision.

But in the real world, customers frequently raise objections. These objections can take many forms – e.g., no money, urgency, need, etc. Many sales professionals quickly respond to such objections with formulaic responses, such as "I know how you feel, many of our current customers felt the same way, but what they found…," and then try to close the sale.

While these types of responses have a place in a sales professional's toolkit, a more effective approach is to prevent objections from being raised in the first place by addressing the root cause of the objection early in the sales process.

Fortunately, this isn't as complicated as it sounds. The best sales training programs instruct sales managers that most objections are caused by one of the following:

  1. The customer does not believe your solution provides enough value
  2. The customer is reluctant to make a change
  3. The customer has a need that doesn't align with your solution

Let's look at each of these common sales objections in more detail.

Cause #1: Not Enough Value

When a customer considers your solution, they implicitly make a cost-benefit analysis. The customer will buy if the benefits of your solution exceed the cost. Conversely, the customer won't buy if the cost exceeds the benefits.

Unfortunately, this value calculation is not scientific and is open to human error, judgments, and feelings - that is what produces a number of common objections, the most common of which is the price objection. A successful sales professional must be highly skilled at developing a deep understanding of their customer's business, asking probing questions, and presenting value.

A common trap sales professionals fall into is taking too narrow of an approach when discussing benefits and costs. Considering the benefits, think about how your solution can help the customer grow revenue, volume, or market share since this is often the first thing customers think about. Their priorities, however, will depend on where they are in the organization and how their performance is measured. Determining professional and personal drivers is essential to align your benefits to those drivers.

On the cost side of the equation, it is dangerous to think only about price. The nominal price of your solution is only one of the numerous cost factors a buyer considers when making a purchase decision. Other cost factors include the total cost of ownership, costs associated with training, switching vendors, and opportunity costs. You must consider all these costs from your customer's perspective and how they relate to your solution.

Here are a few things to consider while you are establishing the value of your solution:

  • Have you explicitly quantified all of the benefits of your solution?
  • Did you fairly address all of the costs associated with your solution?
  • Does your customer understand the economic consequences of taking or not taking action?

Cause #2: Reluctance to Change

Sometimes a customer lets fear or political considerations trump the value of your solution. This seemingly irrational behavior is especially frustrating for sales professionals. But consider the situation from the customer's perspective: perhaps the customer's need simply isn't strong enough to risk making a change, or maybe the current solution is good enough.

In highly political organizations, decision-makers can be concerned about the career or reputational risk of making a change, so doing nothing might be the "safe" choice. This is particularly true when your contact is only an influencer and not the final decision-maker.

Here are a few considerations to overcome this problem:

  • Have you presented sufficient value to differentiate your solution from the status quo?
  • Can you help the customer mitigate the risk of taking action by creatively structuring the business terms of the deal, such as offering a pilot program?
  • Are you selling high enough in the organization?

Cause #3: Solution Doesn't Fully Address Needs

An unfilled need is another cause of objections. Sometimes your solution doesn't address one or more of the customer's priorities. This objection may be impossible to overcome if the unfilled need is significant. And that may be OK.

If a customer has a need you can't satisfy, it may be time to walk away with your reputation intact instead o trying to close a deal that will result in an unhappy client. Unfortunately, sales professionals often spend too much time on opportunities that are not closeable.

Most customers buy even though they don't get 100% of what they want. So, it is up to you to uncover opportunities where your solution can add compelling value.

Here are a few things to consider when discovering the needs of your customers:

  • Have you identified all key decision-makers and their respective needs?
  • Has your customer explicitly stated their need?
  • Have you uncovered all possible needs (as opposed to jumping on the first need you discover)?

4 Steps to Handle Objections

To confidently handle customer objections in the sales process, use the four-step ACAC model.

srg-managing-objections-acac

Acknowledge Concerns

The first step is to listen carefully and with empathy. Take a genuine interest in the concern and try to understand it from the customer's perspective. Avoid patronizing or becoming defensive. Resist the urge to interrupt and respond right away.

Whether it is a misunderstanding, a bias, or a strong opinion, it is important to acknowledge the customer's point of view. Acknowledging and empathizing is not the same as agreeing with the customer— it is about letting them know you have heard them.

For example, if they raise a concern about the delivery date, instead of just parroting back, "I understand you have a concern about the schedule," you might say, "It sounds like the delivery schedule and timeline is important to you in making this decision, can you tell me more about the concerns you have?"

Clarify the Issue

To ensure that you correctly understand the core issue and address the actual concern, take a moment to clarify the issue. Customers often raise one objection but have an important underlying reason that can only be discovered by asking questions and probing. It can also prevent you from sounding confrontational because the objection may be a simple misunderstanding.

Clarification questions often give the customer options to choose from. For example, asking: "Is it the delivery of the initial pilot or the overall implementation schedule of greater concern to you?" helps you assess the customer's priorities and respond correctly.

Handle the Objection

After clarifying the issue, it is time to address the objection. The root cause of many objections relates to perceived value, resistance to change, or need versus solution alignment.

In some cases, objections occur because the customer is still in the early stages of their buying process and doesn't have all the information to decide yet. When this occurs, take a few steps back in your sales process to learn more. Perhaps there are new requirements to uncover or solution benefits that the customer doesn't understand.

Check Back

The last stage is to confirm that the objection has been answered. You must address any lingering reservations before moving into the final stages of closing the deal. Ensure that the customer understood your response and ask whether you have appropriately addressed their concern. For instance, you can ask, "Does our implementation plan address your concern about the delivery schedule?"

If they don't seem convinced, you have more work to do. List your frequently asked questions and common issues to increase your objection-handling skills. Fine-tune your answers to help others truly understand the concern.

Too Long, Didn't Read (TLDR)

Handling and preventing unnecessary sales objections are crucial skills for sales professionals to master. By understanding the root causes of objections and adopting proactive strategies, salespeople can confidently navigate these challenges and achieve improved outcomes and stronger customer relationships.

One key approach is to address the root cause of objections early in the sales process. Rather than relying solely on formulaic responses, sales professionals should strive to prevent objections from arising in the first place. Objects can be minimized or eliminated by identifying and addressing the customer's needs, concerns, and perceived value early on.

Three common causes of objections include customers not perceiving enough value in the solution, reluctance to change, and a solution that doesn't fully address their needs. Sales professionals can overcome these objections by emphasizing the value and return on investment, demonstrating differentiation from competitors, and tailoring the pitch to address specific customer needs.

To prevent objections, salespeople should focus on uncovering and developing buyer needs. Active listening and asking probing questions are key to understanding the customer's perspective and aligning the solution with their requirements. Sales professionals should also be transparent about any limitations or challenges upfront to explore alternative solutions and avoid potential objections later in the sales cycle.

When objections do arise, use the ACAC model to handle them effectively. This model involves acknowledging the customer's concerns, clarifying the issue to ensure understanding, addressing the objection by emphasizing value and benefits, and checking back with the customer to confirm satisfaction.

Co-authored by: Ray Makela, David Jacoby, and Norman Behar


Unlock the full potential of your sales team by developing the key skills they need to overcome challenging objections that block sales and close more deals. Discover how SRG's Comprehensive Selling Skills program can help.

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