(Originally published on Salesforce Quotable)

Sales is sales. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software, medical devices, financial services, or even kitchen knives (like I used to do). No matter your industry, you’ll come up against objections.

Before we get to the objections themselves, we must understand that handling objections is really about having the right mindset. You must be able to handle, even encourage, the objections. Early and often. If someone is “yes-ing” you to death and has no true objections or questions, that means they’re likely not thinking deeply enough about your product and won’t become a buyer.

As bestselling author Ryan Holiday writes, “The obstacle is the way.” Don’t run from objections; run toward them and conquer them. The three most common objections we hear are:

  1. We don’t have the budget.
  2. This isn’t the right time.
  3. Your competitor can more appropriately solve our needs.

Now, here’s how to handle them.

1. “We don’t have the budget.”

If every salesperson had a nickel for every time they heard about a lack of budget, we probably wouldn’t need to be in sales anymore.

What this objection really boils down to is value. Prospects don’t believe your product or service is valuable enough compared to the cost. If it was, they’d buy it immediately. Remember, humans only take actions for two reasons: to seek pleasure or to avoid pain. Take a step back, address the concerns, and show how you can be the driver of joy or the reliever of pain.

There are some really good tips for handling objections in tactful ways from the Gong blog and the book Never Split the Difference with Chris Voss, former FBI lead hostage Negotiator. (You can check out my conversation with Chris here.)

2. “This isn’t the right time.”

The worst answer you can hear from a prospect isn’t “no.” It’s “not right now.” Using timing as an objection can keep the salesperson at bay while giving them the glimmer of hope that things will be different six months from now. But don’t worry; you can handle this one, too.

Timing is everything, and it could very well be a bad time for them to buy something.  The way to handle this objection is to probe further and put it back on the prospect. Ask “What will change in the next week/month/quarter?” It’s possible that the prospect assumes this other task will make it impossible to buy your product, and you can help to address the real issue at hand.

And if it is actually a bad time, then make a note of it, follow up occasionally with helpful content, and play the long game.

3. “Your competitor can more appropriately solve our needs.”

Your palms start sweating, your face gets red, you’re angry. Not only did they bring up your biggest competitor, but they said that the competitor’s product — and not yours — was winning the race.

The key in this scenario is to probe further. What about the competitor’s solution is more appealing? If you’ve done your homework during the discovery phase, you should know what goals they have, the pain points they’re trying to solve, and what their ultimate decision criteria are. Sometimes people need to be reminded of why they are talking to you in the first place. Based on the goals that they originally shared, gently remind them how your solution can help solve their needs.

And maybe, just maybe, the competitor’s solution is better for them right now. A better price point, a feature that they really need, or the service that will get them over the edge. Sometimes that is the reality.

Don’t Panic.

The main message around objection handling is not to panic when you hear the above phrases. Instead, probe further, be curious. As Stephen Covey wrote in his famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek to understand before being understood.” What does their budget really look like? Why is timing bad? What will change in the next three months when you reconnect then? What feature of our competitor is most appealing? What is the key reason for their purchase? By remaining curious and probing further, you can reveal the deeper layers of what their true objections are.

The longer you’re in sales, you’ll realize that sometimes there’s nothing you can do. The company really has no budget right now. They really do need to wait for that next funding round or that next hire. Maybe your competitor really does service them better right now. But then again, maybe not. The only way to know is to remain curious, dig deeper, and become invaluable to them.

Objections are a major part of any salesperson’s life. If you can learn to love the objections, you learn to love sales — and your results will go through the roof.

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