Real objections are gifts. Prospects are giving you precisely what you need to address in order to keep deals moving forward. Without them, you would be selling in the dark, hoping things work out. However, in sales, hope is not a strategy. You need objections to help guide your conversations. Handling them effectively will often be the deciding factor in winning or losing a deal.
The more strategic you can be about finding ways to bring more value to people’s lives, the easier it will be make a sale—but only if you can handle objections along the way. The best time is always in advance. And that means, you must be prepared.
There’s no such thing as the “perfect sale” though, and any reasonable prospect will have some objections come up. The question is what are you going to do when that happens?
What if instead of fighting objections (or crushing them) you decided to dance with them? What if objections were really questions—and perfect opportunities for you to clarify value, provide insights, share information and/or offer another view?
3 Principles Of Common Objections (And How To Handle Them)
Below are three understandings of objections and accompanying structures to handling them. You’ll find that they weave into one another, allowing you to tango with prospects, while unpacking objections proactively as opposed to reactively.
Objection handling is value clarification
Principle 1: Objections Are Questions on Value
Fun Fact: Value Will Always be en Vogue
Objection Handling – a process of clarifying value
Greenhouse Software, my previous company, innovated the structured recruiting process, complete with candidate scorecards to inform data-driven hiring decisions. Here’s an example of an objection that might come up and how this first approach—The Value Scale—can handle things.
Step 1. Identify their values.
Prospect values: Making better hiring decisions, faster.
“I see the value of scorecards, but I wish you used numbers instead of symbols.”
Step 2. Understand why they hold those values.
I respect how you feel about that. It’s certainly an area we feel is important as well. I’m curious, what is it about the scorecards you like, and why do you say you’d prefer numbers?
I like how the scorecards call for a fair, balanced, and consistent look at candidates. If you used numbers, you could simply compare them and come to a fast and objective hiring decision.
Step 3. Align your product with their own beliefs and values.
I respect the importance you place on fair and objective hiring decisions. It very much aligns with our own views and is exactly what we’re built for. While you can certainly optimize the recruiting process, you can’t take away the human element from hiring people. To be done effectively, recruiting must be both data-driven and humanistic.
Decisions based on gut alone invite bias, while adding up numbers like it’s a robot hiring a robot is equally dangerous— if not more so. Symbols offer the benefits of both data and thoughtful decision making, so you can make the best hires in the shortest period of time.
Objection handling is problem solving
Principle 2: Be the Trusted Advisor
Truth Bomb: Nobody likes a ‘Salesperson’
Objection Handling – a process of facilitating understanding
MATTE Projects, my current company, is a creative agency and production company. We serve clients through film production, creative direction, and experiential curation. In addition, MATTE owns, operates and brands music events, such as Full Moon Festival. As the Business Development Manager, part of my role includes full-cycle sales for event sponsorships.
Here’s an example of an objection that might come up and how this second approach—Consultative Selling—can lead to a richer understanding of the factors surrounding it.
Step 1: Qualify their objection.
For event partnerships under consideration, we’re focused first and foremost on the 1-to-1 consumer sampling, and therefore, paying more than $X/product sampled is outside our scope. We’d need to reach more people at that price.
I can appreciate your team has a standard 1:1 model. All things beings equal, a traditional sampling ratio would make sense here as well. However, not all festivals are created equally – and thank goodness for that because your brand will get far more out of a Full Moon partnership. If you were simply trying to reach more people, you could just head to Times Square, where over a million people pass through each day. Why invest in partnering at an event?
We’re looking to large-scale events that can help us target the right demographic, so we can increase our consumer base in the region. Your event has the right people, but so do some larger festivals.
Step 2: Decide what is best for the prospect, based on your ability to qualify.
Based on XYZ I’ve gathered so far from qualifying, what expertise can I offer? What course of action makes sense here?
Step 3: Recommend an action and state why.
At larger festivals, you’ll be exposed to a greater mass, but the environment is inherently more saturated. How will you stand out from all the rest of the sponsors? How long will you last in consumer minds?
Our carefully curated brand partners are able to make lasting impacts on guests because we trade volume of sponsors for quality of partnerships. As a creative agency, we’re able to work together with brands to create on-site footprints that authentically enhance the festival experience. This means festival goers will walk away with positive brand associations after the event.
While you may reach fewer people per dollar, if you can reach them for longer—it will be far more valuable. After all, the lifetime value of even one customer is worth significantly more than lots of customers who shopped once or twice.
Brand communications at events only hold water long-term when tied to attendees’ memories. And these memories are linked with their emotions from the event. That’s the only thing that really changes any behavior, including buying behavior, isn’t it? Emotions are what build brand loyalty for companies like Coca-Cola, even when Pepsi wins in blind taste tests. We’ve got that in spades.
Objection handling is frame control
Principle 3: Own the Frame
Communication Hack: Frames Are the Name of the Game
No matter what you’re selling, one of the most common objections is on price. Here’s an example of a how this third approach—Frame Control—can allow you to look at the objection in another context or through a new lens.
Note well: It’s crucial not to create a “you verses the prospect” frame and instead seek to refocus the question, so you can see things eye to eye.
Objection Handling – a process of contextualizing meaning
Step 1: Set the frame in your own mind.
What must I believe in advance of communicating to handle objections with confidence and congruency?
How can I see the value so vividly and hold it so firmly in my heart that my conviction eases any uncertainty the prospect may have?
Do this for real! Every. Single. Time.
Step 2: Seek their viewpoint.
‘Context of View’—If that were a valid objection, what else would have to be true? Is that really the case?
Prospect: It costs too much!
Ask a framing question:
Relative to what exactly?… Is it that you have a preconceived budget you’re trying to match or are you looking to keep doing the same things only for cheaper?
No; We’re not looking to continue doing what we have been. We are looking for the XYZ changes your product brings—but it’s the most expensive on the market.
Ask a framing question:
I understand that price is an important factor in your decision process. Is it more important than getting those XYZ changes?
Step 3: Refocus their perspective.
How can we look at the objection from a different perspective to provide a more compelling meaning? E.g. Cost → Investment
I agree our product is the most expensive—and based on your XYZ priorities, it’s also the best fit for your team. We’ve invested all the resources so that you can actually create those XYZ changes you’re looking for. The truth is you get what you pay for in this industry, and if you’re able to move forward today, you’ll see a much greater ROI.
- Objections are forms of ignorance, fear, and uncertainty.
→ e.g. Values are misaligned, Understanding is limited, and/or perspective is skewed
- Don’t ‘CRUSH’ objections, provide insights.
→ e.g. Clarify value, Share information, Offer another view
- Remember, when you fail to handle an objection, it’s a lose-lose; When you succeed at overcoming an objection, it’s a win-win.
Trample the weak & hurdle the dead, but always dance for objections! ☺