When you’re on the phone with someone, it’s likely they’re at least 50% interested in moving forward otherwise they would have never shown up. They just need more information and an idea of how this works for them. They need that extra little push. And to do that, it means addressing objections: those nagging questions people have before they can buy.
But here’s the thing –
When your prospect starts communicating their objections… it’s already too late. It’s like the annoyingly prolific crabgrass – you know, that ugly grass weed that just grows and stretches ALL summer long, spreading its seeds all over your lawn. If you don’t nip it in the bud when it’s just starting to grow, you’ll have a hard time by the end of summer trying to pull it all up.
It’s the same with objections; it’s much easier to acknowledge and defuse them throughout your presentation before your prospect brings them up. And if you do it right, your prospect’s number one objection can conceptually become the exact reason why they’re qualified to talk to you, and the objection becomes a selling point.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why it’s so important – and helpful – to defuse objections before your prospect forces you to handle them
- How to do this effectively and actually turn those objections into selling points
- Three action steps you can do today to incorporate and test this strategy in your next sales presentation.
Why Defuse Objections Before You’re Forced to Handle Them
“The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion – the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.”
Robert Cialdini, PreSuasion
In his book, PreSuasion, Robert Cialdini takes his original research on influence and expands it, studying how to subtly leave cues and clues that will influence another’s action down the road and preemptively prepare them to be receptive to it.
You can do the same in your presentations, and studies tell us that you should.
In fact, Neil Rackham, a psychologist and founder of Huthwaite Inc, spent twelve years with his team studying sales. After gathering data from over 35,000 sales calls, they were able to provide proof that a lot of the traditional sales tactics people rely on are wrong.
One of the myths they busted is that objections are actually a good sign that your prospects are interested. Rackham found “that the likelihood of making a sale actually decreases in direct proportion to the number of objections that the salesperson receives.” This comes directly from his book, SPIN Selling:
“Skilled people receive fewer objections because they have learned objection prevention, not objection handling.”
(SPIN Selling, pg. 118)
That corroborates with insight from our own sales team when we asked them for in-the-trenches experience using objection prevention (some also like to call it preemptive objection handling). Here are a few other benefits our team shared:
- The number one reason: your sales success rate will increase.
- You’re not spending extra time explaining, or going back-and-forth and answering questions.
- You’re on offense, but your prospect doesn’t know it because you’re not being pushy. Using objection prevention is way more powerful than waiting around for the prospect to bring it up (that’s defense).
- You strengthen the relationship and you build trust with your prospects when they know you’re aware of their situation and their concerns.
- When you do this right, prospects actually destroy their own objections and come to the conclusion on their own that they are a perfect fit for your offer. For many, this is quite the eye-opener. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.
As you can see, diffusing objections before they come up is the way to go if you want to close more sales. Now let’s get into how we do this.
How to Handle Sales Objections Before They Come Up
If Rackham is right, and skilled salespeople don’t get as many objections, what are they doing differently?
Before we get into some concrete examples, one difference he explains is that they create a high-perceived value by asking the right kinds of questions. In our experience, we ask questions like:
What are your top priorities right now?
Are you having [insert problems] like our other clients have?
What happens to your business if you don’t address this in the next few months?
Can you tell me more about that?
How long have you been dealing with this problem?
What outcome or solution are you hoping to see?
Use Objections to Get The Prospect to Qualify Themselves
We also position objections in a way that the prospect can use them to self-identify as a qualified prospect putting you on their side, whereas before those objections would have been a giant wall between you.
For example, let’s say the salesperson at Nordstrom’s is speaking to a potential buyer, but the buyer is a little hesitant to even look around. The salesperson knows why and says, “You know, a lot of the women I help in here think that Nordstrom is too expensive. We have stylish outfits for any budget, is there a price point you had in mind?”
What happened there? The salesperson understands the hesitancy came from the price and they used that to show the potential buyer a lot of other buyers actually felt the same way. The difference is, now the potential buyer self-identifies with other Nordstrom buyers, and is now receptive to hearing more. This puts us both on the same team and shows that we know how to help people just like them.
Let’s take a B2B example. Say you’re a financial advisor and you’re speaking with a prospective client. You know they already work with a financial advisor and that this will be a big objection – he’s doing fine and they’re not in the market for another financial advisor. This is where you can say, “A lot of the clients I work with think their financial advisors are doing a great job…”
Immediately your prospect will self-identify with that because that’s exactly what they’re thinking at that moment. But now, you’ve piqued their interest and they have self-qualified themselves as a prospect of yours.
Address Known Objections Throughout Your Sales Presentation
The best way to defuse objections is simply to tie these them into your sales presentation. Let’s take a look at how we do this for some common objections:
Objection #1: Price
If a person says they can’t afford it, then it means you haven’t helped them discover why your product or service commands the price it does. No matter how great you think your offer is, the prospect doesn’t see it that way if they object to the price point. Remember that “selling” shouldn’t be synonymous with “explaining”, “telling”, or “educating”. These are all inefficient sales techniques. True selling is helping prospects uncover why they need you.
So one way to do this in your sales presentation is to walk the prospect through the ROI of your service showing how if they make an INVESTMENT (*not an expense) with you that it yields a certain result. From there, you can divide the benefit/results amount by the cost of the investment for the ROI.
Here are a few other ways to incorporate the value of your offer throughout your presentation:
- Have them build up the value in their own words. Get them to tell you how much money they plan to spend, how many sales they have, and get them to admit to you how much your solution would be worth to them (before they even know the price). But even better, if they can articulate how much the problem you are solving for them is costing them, they will find the money.
This is where those questions come into play. Ask things like, “If you could improve this part of your marketing funnel, how much would it mean to you if you could have X more amount of leads?”Here, they already agreed that your solution will produce a certain return and they already agreed that they believe your solution will get them the result they want.
- Upfront, let them know you’re not competing on price. Try this, “We are not the cheapest guy on the block – because we’re constantly updating our solution and we’re focused on building loyalty through great customer service. We’re not like everyone else.” List the value that you offer and show how it doesn’t compare on price. It also might be worth it to wake them up a little with this reminder: “You have never made a decision based solely on price.” This will get them to think and they’ll see that you’re right. Is price a factor? Yes, but never the sole factor.
- Add in a subtle cost comparison as a price anchor. For example, Robert Cialdini tells a story of a guy who had trouble with the price objection until he jokingly starting saying, “Obviously I won’t be able to charge you $1M for this.” This way, when the price came out later on in the conversation, compared to one million, it didn’t seem so bad. Another, and perhaps even more effective method, as we’ve mentioned before, is getting them to think of the cost of the current problem because it typically far outweighs any price you’d put in front of them.
Objection #2: “Let us think about it. We need more time.”
In a case like this, a number of things can be going on. If they have hesitation, they might not see the real value of your offer and there could be a hidden objection there, so you’ll want to ask them if what is really going on. If they really need more time, the best is to instill a time limit or a limited stock issue in your presentation.
- Lay out the process up front that will give your prospect an appropriate amount of time to think about it but then will be forced to make a decision. That could be in the form of setting a “go/no go” call, or a call that is set up to simply make a decision. If you outline the sales process up front then they should know that the go/no-go call is coming and they won’t be surprised by it. They won’t need to “think about it” because there has already been time built into the process to think about it.
Objection #3: “I need to talk this over with my partner/boss/spouse.”
This can easily be addressed upfront by ensuring you are speaking with the decision maker(s). Early on in your presentation, or even before you meet, get them to think about how they’ve made decisions like this in the past and who was involved. Just start with something like:
- “Last time you made a similar decision, what was the process like? Who else was involved?”
Your goal here is to get all the decision makers in the same room or on the same call with you because you don’t want your prospect pitching to his or her partner on your behalf.
As a final note, here are some action steps you can take today to get you started.
- Brainstorm and make a list of all the most common objections you hear, including the objections your prospect doesn’t specifically say, but that you know are there. (For example, maybe you look young and you know they’ll think you’re inexperienced.)
- Use the examples above as inspiration to write an outline or script for how you can defuse objections within your sales presentation before the prospect brings them up. Remember that you want to transition their objections into selling point, either by getting your prospect to qualify themselves or by spinning that objection into a positive.
- Find places within your presentation to add them so it comes out naturally.
Finally, it’s good to note that in many cases, salespeople often don’t bring up objections in their presentations not because they don’t know how, but because they don’t believe they should or that’s it’s necessary.
However, after reading this article today, hopefully, you can see that diffusing objections beforehand instead of waiting to handle them when you’re forced to, actually results in faster sales and increases your closing rates. Use these ideas and strategies as inspiration when preparing your sales presentations and get ahead of those objections!