Focusing on overcoming sales objections is likely holding you back and poisoning your customer relationships.
This may seem backward. Afterall, objection handling is often considered one of the foundational pillars of sales — one of the critical elements necessary to win more deals.
But there’s an important problem lurking beneath the surface — and if you want to be a better salesperson, you’ll need to work actively to address it.
The Overcoming Objections Mentality
The premise behind “overcoming objections” is simple. When you’re trying to sell something to someone, they’ll naturally come up with objections to what you’re saying, right?
For example, they may feel like your product isn’t worth the cost you’re charging for it. So, in order to close the sale, you need to find a way to overcome these objections. You could use statistics or examples to prove that this product will pay for itself in the long run, justifying the price.
This approach is baked into most sales strategies.
As a strategy, most sales teams attempt to come up with a list of potential sales objections based on statistics and past experience. From there, the team comes up with potential rebuttals and solutions that can eliminate those objections.
They might also prepare new scripts and new angles of conversation that allow salespeople to completely avoid these objections in the first place.
To most salespeople, this sounds completely natural. So, what’s the issue?
The 5 Problems With Overcoming Objections — and How to Overcome Them
Objections are typically seen as an obstacle to be navigated — a threat to be eliminated. And while this can have a positive impact on your bottom-line sales, there are some major problems with this philosophy that can get in the way of your long-term success.
Let’s take a look at six of these issues.
#1 Objections aren’t always a bad thing
The first problem with the overcoming objections mentality is that objections are looked at as a foe that must be defeated in order to move the sale forward.
This is an inherently flawed view. In fact, sometimes objections are a good thing, and you should be glad you’re hearing them.
View objections as an opportunity
Consider these three positive benefits of objections:
Objections are a sign of engagement
On average, only 3% of your market is actively buying at any given time. Most people you contact aren’t going to respond to you at all. They’ll be so uninterested, they won’t engage with you for even a moment. But if someone is giving you an objection, that means they’re engaged.
On some level, they’re paying attention to what you’re saying. They’re learning about your brand and your product. They’re critically thinking about the purchase. And those are incredibly rewarding signs.
Objections tell you more about the buyer’s disposition
Objections are a great opportunity to learn more about your buyer’s disposition. You’ll instantly learn about things that are holding them back from purchasing — which is much better than having someone go silent and simply refuse to continue the conversation.
Importantly, clear objections also tell you what the buyer is okay with. For example, if they never bring up an objection about price or budget, they likely have money to spend.
Objections offer an opportunity to respond
Like I mentioned before, people who are truly uninterested in your product will drop the conversation and stop responding to you. Providing an objection is a way of giving you an opportunity to respond.
In this context, you should see objections as an invitation to continue the conversation — which is obviously a good thing.
If you understand objections as a natural part of the sales process and as a sign that you’re on the right path, you’ll be able to respond to them effectively and open new paths to the sale.
#2 Sales isn’t a debate, it’s a conversation
I’ve seen some salespeople prepare for a sales meeting as if they’re heading into a political debate. They have notecards with statistics. They practice with a partner or in front of the mirror. They anticipate what the other side might say (more on that idea in the next section) and have a canned response ready to squash it.
There’s a big problem with this.
Sales interactions should be treated as conversations, not debates.
Approaching the conversation as a debate is going to put you in a negative light. If you’re constantly presenting counter-arguments to the points brought up by the opposition, you aren’t really listening. You aren’t really engaging. You’ll be seen as a combatant, and your prospects aren’t going to be heard.
View sales as a conversation
If you take the time to really listen to what your prospects are saying, and if you work with them to explore their ideas and issues, you’ll be seen in a much more positive light.
Instead of arguing with your prospect, and telling them their viewpoint is wrong, acknowledge their objection. By doing so you validate their feelings, show that you are listening, and keep the conversation open.
You’ll also be more likely to uncover the root causes of their objections and be able to work with them to find a way past.
#3 You and your prospect should be on the same side
Did you know that 79% of customers prefer salespeople who act as advisors?
This shouldn’t be surprising. People are naturally more receptive to people they see as allies.
In my previous point, I described overcoming objections as a premeditated strategy where you anticipate what the other side might say. But the moment you define your prospects as an other your mentality changes.
You’re now going into battle, heading off the threats posed by a foe. Instead, you should be seeing this as a collaborative session, with both you and your prospect on the same side.
You can resolve problems faster by shifting your mentality.
Get on your prospect’s side
In couples counseling, you’ll often hear about how you need to avoid viewing conflicts as me vs. you. Instead, you need to learn to see them as me and you together vs. the problem.
In sales, this means you and your prospect work together to find the best solution for them — even (and this is important) if their best solution turns out not to be yours.
This builds trust and relationships with your prospect. And you’ll get far better results if you approach objections as a point to be mutually discussed and considered, rather than a challenge from an enemy.
#4 Some objections can’t be eliminated
Here’s an important truth — some objections can’t be overcome.
Some objections stem from a law of nature, or an immutable truth, and there’s nothing you can do to get around it.
If you build your strategy around overcoming objections, you’re going to be stuck here, with no way out. You’ll see your prospect as a challenger who can’t be defeated, and you’ll either keep banging your head against that brick wall, or you’ll give up the sale and move on.
If you avoid the overcoming objections mentality, you give yourself a third option — understanding the objection and accepting it.
Accept their objections
There’s no such thing as a perfect product. Every purchase begins with a buyer weighing the pros and cons of their decision.
If you can persuade them that their objection is legitimate, but not a deal-breaker, you may push them to move forward without necessarily overcoming that objection.
Let me give you an example.
Say a buyer is fixated on the idea that this product won’t be ideal long-term. Instead of trying to convince them it is ideal long-term, accept that this is not an optimal long-term strategy for them, and shift your focus to the short-term benefits.
#5 Objections are often a byproduct of poor audience targeting
There’s a reason why 40% of people cite prospecting as the most challenging part of the sales process. Finding the right people is incredibly difficult, but your success as a salesperson depends on it.
If you’re getting lots of objections from someone, it’s likely because they fall outside your true target demographics in some way.
For example, they may not be a decision maker, they may not have the right budget, or they may not be far enough along in the buying cycle.
If something like this is the case, no amount of overcoming objections is going to help you. The sales problem is happening much earlier, and you’ll need the help of a robust marketing and pre-sales process to help you resolve it. In other words, overcoming objections is often a bandaid fix used to solve problems that need to be fixed in other ways.
Find the right audience
If you’re not in front of the right audience, your chances of success are dramatically lower. If this is the case, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and re-target.
In most cases, this starts with finding your ICP, or in some cases re-defining it.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to look at who your current customers are. What niches are they in? How big are they? What do they have in common with each other?
In some cases, though, your ICP may be right on target, and the issue may be that your qualification process isn’t strict enough. Sit down with your team and talk over what should and shouldn’t qualify as a sales qualified lead.
You’ll find that when you’re targeting the right audience and approaching them as a partner (not someone coming to smash down their objections), you actually run into far fewer objections in the first place.
Focus on Collaborative Selling, Not Combative
Overcoming objections certainly has its place in your sales strategy. You’ll need to speculate about and research potential objections if you want to win more deals.
However, the industry-wide obsession with overcoming objections as a form of battle is downright counterproductive.
Focus instead on being a collaborative seller. Work with your prospects to overcome the obstacles that are keeping them from buying.
If you do that you’ll build relationships with your prospects and see far better long-term results.