11.1. Objections Are Opportunities to Build Relationships

Sales process step fiveYou have been working hard at school, and at work and it’s paying off. You’re doing well this semester with a GPA right where you want it. Spring break is right around the corner, and you and your friends have been talking about going to Mexico. You even had an impromptu “fiesta party” at your place and do some research about airfares and hotels; there are some great deals out there. You present your case to your boss who isn’t sure whether they can spare you.  You end with a strong “close” to seal the deal: “The timing is perfect since it’s a slow time at work. I can book the flights tonight online.”  You have just experienced the fine art of overcoming objections.

Since you are constantly selling in your everyday life, you have also undoubtedly encountered objections: your friend doesn’t want to see the same movie as you, your co-worker won’t switch shifts, and your partner has the car. When you attempt to convince someone or “sell” them on your point of view, you are not always successful. But each time you “sell” your idea, you usually have additional information or a fallback position so that you can get what you want while meeting the other person’s needs. You are probably more skilled in overcoming objections than you realize.

Occasionally in your sales career, you will encounter a situation in which you are able to close the sale directly after giving your sales presentation. Such a situation, however, is the exception not the rule. Objections are simply a natural outcome of the sales process. Each potential prospect has their own set of unique needs, and, though you may identify most of them during the preapproach stage of the selling process when you do your research, you will not be able to anticipate all of them. After all, you are not a mind reader. Besides, if all it took to excel in sales was to deliver a perfect script, anyone could do it. But that is not the case. The essence of sales is handling objections and truly understanding how you can help your prospect meet their needs. So an objection is simply a question from a prospect that indicates that they want more information. If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t be asking questions (Boe, 2003). The first myth to dispel is the assumption that objections are bad or an omen foreshadowing failure. On the contrary, resistance usually portends commitment. If a prospect is asking you questions, you can at least assume that they are interested in your product or service. In fact, in all likelihood, they already know whether or not they need or want to make the purchase. Thus, the reason they are objecting isn’t necessarily because your presentation failed to communicate the features, advantages, and benefits of your offering. Rather, they are objecting because they are seeking reassurance for their decision. 

What Are Objections?

“Sales objections are issues that prospects communicate to sales professionals as reasons why they can’t buy a product or service from them.” (Gonzalez, 2019, para 6). While objection may sound like rejection, you should never assume that when a prospect asks a question or expresses a concern that you have failed to generate interest in your product or service—it is more about the need to clarify misconceptions about the product or service to reassure the prospect about their buying decision.  Yes, it is true sometimes that your prospect will object when they truly cannot or do not want to buy. Usually, though, objections mask—intentionally or unintentionally—a request for more information. They simply signal your prospect’s level of interest and alert you to what actions need to be taken to bring the sale to a close. If your prospect expresses objections, consider them invitations to continue to sell. Furthermore, leverage these objections into an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with your prospect so that you can continue to create a positive influence on the buyer’s decision. The fact is objections help you build your relationship and find the true reason for resistance. Think of objections as opportunities. You may find it interesting to know that in sales, 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes (Assemi, 2020). That means that it’s more likely than not that you will experience a prospect who poses at least one objection: asking a question, requesting more information or time, or pushing back due to financial constraints. Without objections, you would have no way of knowing what a prospect is thinking, what concerns they have  or what barriers might be in the way of  them saying, “Where do I sign?”

Think back to the steps of the selling process that you have covered so far: prospecting and qualifying, preapproach, approach, and presentation. Throughout each of these steps, your focus is on understanding your prospect’s needs and building a relationship based on trust. The same is true for this step: handling objections. This is all about learning more, finding common ground, and providing the solution that is best for your prospect. Objections and conversation help you better understand exactly what your prospect wants and needs. The bottom line is that you don’t want to avoid objections; you actually want to encourage objections and ask for them.

Why Prospects Object

While prospects may voice their objections in different ways, just about every objection comes down to one of four reasons: not enough money, no perceived need, no sense of urgency, and no trust (Boe, 2013). As a selling professional, you have control over each one of these objections but it’s too late if you address it only when the prospect objects. In other words, you are actually handling objections at every step of the selling process. For example, you can avoid the price objection with a thorough overview during your first step of the selling process (Leotta, 2010). If a prospect does not have a perceived need or high sense of urgency to buy your product or service, your challenge is to understand the drivers of their business. Every business has challenges, and your role from the time you qualify the prospect is to understand your prospect’s “pain points,” those issues that cause problems for them and their company and present barriers to growth. If you truly understand your prospect’s business, it is much easier to present a solution that addresses the perceived need and reasons to buy it now.

When Prospects Object

While you may not be able to predict your prospect’s every objection, you can at least predict that they will object. Knowing when to expect objections is the first step to handling them: you will eliminate the chance of appearing caught off guard or unprepared to discuss the product or service that you are selling. Including potential objections in the pre-call planning worksheet (See chapter 10) will help prepare you and the use of trial closes are also very helpful.  Given that it is possible that the prospect may object at any time during your sales call—from introduction to close—trial close whenever want to see how your prospect or customer feels about the sale or a particular feature (whereas closing is asking for the sale) (Metler, 2017).  Examples of trial closes include (Metler, 2017):

  • What do you think about this solution?
  • Does the product/solution make sense to you?
  • Have I answered your question?
  • What do you think about this proposal?
  • Based on what we have discusses so far, do you have any questions?

You trial close so that you can move onto the next phase in the sales call.   Trial closes are also explained in Chapter 12.


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The Power of Selling Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Michelle Clement is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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