Sales negotiation is a critical skill for any high-performing team, and a major aspect of sales negotiation is overcoming sales objections.
When your salespeople are effective at overcoming sales objections, they enjoy several benefits that also benefit your organization:
- Higher win rates
- Better profit margins
- Greater efficiency
But salespeople aren’t born knowing how to effectively engage in sales negotiation, and overcoming objections can feel hard and uncomfortable without the right skills. Worse, when salespeople attempt to overcome objections without correct skills, they risk alienating customers and damaging goodwill.
They need training and support to ensure their sales negotiation goes smoothly and provides the outcomes you want. Teach these tips to help your salespeople get better at overcoming sales objections.
When a prospect raises an objection, it’s natural to want to jump to the defense. Teach your salespeople to instead focus on listening deeply to the objection before jumping in, and to express empathy with the prospect’s problem.
When prospects feel that they have been heard, they are more likely to be willing to listen and discuss solutions to their objection.
For many salespeople, the first impulse when faced with objections is to offer a discount. This can be counterproductive for two primary reasons: Discounting tells the prospect that you didn’t offer them your best deal to begin with; and it may not even fulfill their need.
Objections to price are common, but often a spoken objection to price is masking a deeper concern about trust, value, or resistance to change. Teach salespeople to go deeper into problem-solving before they begin introducing discounts. When discounts are offered, they should always be accompanied by a reason that eases the fear that you didn’t offer the prospect your best deal from the start
Once the prospect has expressed their concerns, it’s time to dig deeper. Under their objection may lie additional fears or pains they haven’t expressed. Teach your salespeople to ask probing questions to get to the root of the concern.
Common objections include cost, complexity, competitors, lack of features, value, timing, and trust (which may also show up as lack of authority or confidence).
Prospects, when asked, will commonly talk about cost, complexity, timing, or features. However, they will rarely share that they don’t trust the salesperson or that they lack confidence in the solution. Salespeople must be skilled in building and maintaining trust through authoritative and consultative selling. If a lack of trust develops or appears during the negotiation stage, teach your salespeople how to identify the problem and how to bring in resources to improve trust and confidence.
4. Recognize when an objection is a legitimate blocker
Not every prospect is a good fit for your organization. Teach salespeople how to disqualify prospects at every stage of the sales process, so they can focus on those who are most likely to be profitable.
During the negotiation phase, teach them to recognize when a sales objection is a legitimate blocker to the sale. For instance, the competitor’s product may be a better value for them, or you might genuinely not be able to provide features that are critical to their success. When this happens, it is better to reclaim the time rather than to engage in aggressive attempts to overcome objections.
When a salesperson honestly and correctly identifies a bad fit, they may lose the sale, but they gain the trust of the prospect and open the door for future sales. On the other hand, a salesperson who insists on aggressively pursuing a bad opportunity will waste time, alienate the buyer, and still lose the sale.
5. Problem solve
When the salesperson’s probing questions identify objections that can be overcome, it’s time for your sales team to put on their consultative sales hats and get to work solving problems. Remind salespeople to focus on the problems their prospects are experiencing, and to collaborate with them to find winning solutions.
For instance, when a prospect objects on the basis of complexity, your salesperson can help them find ways to simplify their approach to the implementation. This is also a good time to build trust by bringing in implementation experts and other team members so that the prospect feels that they will have a good partner in navigating the complexity.
6. Identify the value for the prospect in overcoming objections
The value to your sales team of overcoming objections is obvious. But what is the value to the buyer? Why should they bother engaging in a conversation aimed at overcoming their objections?
Teach your salespeople to probe for the problems and aspirations that will motivate the buyer to want to overcome their own objections.
For instance, if the objection is the difficulty of finding enough budget for the solution, teach salespeople to ask questions that lead the prospect to remember and understand the value of the solution and the cost of not investing in it. When the prospect remembers clearly why they wanted the solution in the first place, they’re more likely to want to overcome their own objections.
7. Confirm the solution
After taking the previous steps and before closing the conversation, teach salespeople to confirm with the prospect that the solution really does address their objections. The salesperson should have a record of all of the objections raised, and review them with the prospect to ensure that all of them are addressed.
Some salespeople resist the idea of reviewing objections with the prospect, on the grounds that it might remind them and cause them to think twice. It’s important to remember that the prospect has not permanently forgotten their objections. Even if they’ve temporarily lost track of one of them, they will remember it later. If you haven’t fully addressed all of the items on their list, you open the door for them to ruminate later and kill the deal on the basis of the one objection you didn’t address.
By reviewing the objections and confirming with the prospect that they have been addressed, you make it easy for them to say “yes” to the sale, and hard for them to change their mind later.
8. Remember your communication styles
Teach salespeople to match the communication style of the prospect at all stages of the sales process, but especially during negotiation. Sales negotiations can be intense and uncomfortable for buyers. Trust is critical. By choosing a communication style that is most comfortable for the buyer, salespeople can help maintain trust and improve their ability to move the conversation forward.
Sales negotiation and overcoming sales objections can be difficult for salespeople. By arming them with the skills in this article, you give your salespeople the power to close more deals, and to do so more profitably.
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