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Some sales discussions will move easily through the sales process and you can close straight away, but often the customer will come up with a reason why they’re not ready to commit to buy your product.

When this happens, it may feel like you’ve come up against a brick wall, your mind will go into panic mode and the temptation will be to assume that you’ve lost the sale.

Once you’ve identified an objection, give the customer a chance to talk, then summarise back to them what you’ve just heard; this gives you a little more thinking time and confirms that you’ve understood what it is that they’re objecting to. Now we can dig into the underlying reasons for the objection.

Most objections typically fall into four categories:

Price and Budget

“It’s too expensive” – Price objections are the most common type, and are sometimes even raised by prospects who have every intention of buying. Be careful with price objections; if you focus on price as a selling point, you’re reducing your product to a basic commodity, so revisit the product’s value.

“We don’t have any budget left this year.” – A variation of the “no money” objection, what your customer may actually be telling you here is that they’re having cash flow issues. One way to check if this is the case is to ask if they would buy if the funds were available. If the answer is positive, then try and work with them find additional funding, or maybe you could offer extended payment terms.

Competition

“We’re already working with [Vendor X].” – A prospect who’s working with a competitor may actually be a blessing in disguise. The fact that they’re even talking to you means that they have some concerns about their existing supplier and that they’ve already recognised a need and identified a solution, so you may not need to educate them about your value. Ask them why they choose the competitor? What’s working well? What’s not? Pay special attention to complaints that could be solved with your product.

“I can get a cheaper version of your product somewhere else.” – You need to drill down into this…. Are you in a competitive situation, where the prospect is using the threat of competition to get a better price from you or do they simply think that a similar, cheaper product can do everything they need? If they think a cheaper product will suffice, then you need to revisit your value proposition and emphasise the overall worth, not the cost.

Authority or Ability to Buy

“I need to check with my boss” – Ask your prospect for the name of the right person to speak to, and ask if you can speak to them together. Try to avoid bypassing your initial contact; if they’re convinced of the value of your product, you can get them to help influence the person with the authority to buy.

“I’m too busy to do anything with this now.” – Ask your customer what else is a priority. If they explain the other priorities, don’t panic. Agree a time for a follow up call or meeting and send over helpful information in the meantime so that you keep your name front of mind.

Need and Fit

“I’ve never heard of your company.” – This is a really common objection for small businesses, especially if they operate in a market where there are one or two bigger players. Treat the objection as a request for information, so provide a very quick summary of your value proposition and reference other happy customers.

“I don’t really see how your product helps me.” – This tells you that they haven’t understood your explanation of your product’s value. Simply reconfirm the problems you’ve discussed and explain how your product can solve specific problems.

“Your product doesn’t have X feature, and we need it.” – If this is true, you may have to admit defeat, but first clarify precisely how valuable that particular feature would be to the prospect. Then try suggesting a supplementary product that can be used in conjunction with yours and explore just how critical that extra feature is. It might be that the value that you can provide, outweighs the importance of the missing feature.

Objections that are actually brush off’s

“Just send me some information.” – This is an opportunity to re-qualify the prospect. Say, “I’d be happy to send you some information, but I want to make sure that they’re relevant. What are you interested in learning about?”

“Call me back in a few months.” – Prospects will often say this to avoid having to make an instant decision. Ask what’s going to change between now and then as this may help you understand why they’re trying to delay.

Hopefully now, you can see how important it is to use questions to explore objections that you’re faced with, and understand a prospect’s real concerns, rather than just attacking them head on. And by understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of your competition, and how they might apply to a prospect’s business, you can build a compelling set of reasons why your product or services is the best fit for their needs.

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