Selling in the face of sales objections can be tough.
But our self-limiting beliefs can make it tougher.
We analyzed 224K+ sales calls spread over 2 million minutes to uncover the truth about the impact of the most common sales objections on deal outcomes. Read on to understand if and how you can coach your team to move around those daunting boulders.
Are sales objections just a mind game?
I found myself wading through Reddit sales threads and saw this gem by Salesborg that really sums up the current sentiment on sales, sales objections, and how persistence pays.
You can read the complete piece here on Reddit.
It made me wonder what are the most common sales objections, AKA self-limiting beliefs that sales teams usually operate with? Don’t get me wrong. I may be a founder and CEO, but I sell on the daily. I know just how tough sales can be.
“No budget.” “Bad timing.” “Not now.”
All common and worthy deal (and mood) killers.
Luckily, as our experience tells us, not all sales objections are actual objections—some are reflections of our own self-limiting beliefs and can be overcome. Indeed, as data will show us, many sales objections are actually windows into our prospects’ world and wallets.
But motivating your sales team to break through the walls of the status quo, not now or not ever when the world is changing, can be a tough job. Guess what’s more convincing than just your own experience? Data that never lies.
So, I dug into our sales call data on Wingman to uncover the six most common objections on sales calls and their impact on deal outcomes. For now, here’s a pop quiz.
Related: Losing Big Deals? Fix These 5 Sales Process Fails 📚
Are all sales objections equally bad?
Is a deal doomed if the prospect says “I’m not interested” or “You know what, it’s just not the right time” during a sales call?
It’s easy (and also totally human) to assume the answer is yes and move on to the next prospect. Self-limiting belief alert!
But according to our data, when any objection was brought up by the prospect, the deal won rate went up by almost 30%!
If the prospect brings up an objection, don’t assume the deal will go south. Instead, coach your teams to think of it as a good way to uncover the prospect’s hidden thoughts and to plan better for the next call.
What are the most common sales objections and their impact on deal outcomes?
Now that we’ve seen that sales objections aren’t necessarily a dead-end sign, let’s dive right into what the most common sales objections are and how to help your team maneuver around them.
“Our budgets are frozen.” Those four words induce heartache, right? And not without reason.
Among all the objections we tracked for this report, the budget being discussed can be a leading indicator of the deal being lost.
In fact, when the budget came up as an objection, the deal lost rate went up by 79%.
Just cause for a real burn. But does this stat mean that there’s no scope? Data and experience tell us otherwise.
When budget was mentioned, the deal won rate was also affected – but positively. It went up by 13%. You might see this as an indication that fewer deals get stuck in limbo when budget comes up on a call.
If your reps hear this objection, coach them to try and understand whether the objection is temporary or permanent. If temporary, they should nurture the lead and be prepared for longer follow-ups and you, for longer sales cycles.
What are the best ways to handle budget objections?
Try one of these:
- “When do you expect your budgets to open up again?”
- “Are you looking for a solution for part of your problem?”
- “When will you be planning for next year?”
Many budget discussions often reach a dead end because you’re not talking to the right person. Your reps find themselves selling to a decision influencer and not a decision-maker? Read on.
“I’m not the decision-maker.”
Few things kill the momentum, not to mention the mood, as fast as hearing these not-so-golden words from a prospect.
Guess what? When authority came up in a sales conversation, the deal won rate shot up by almost 60%.
This means that the reps would have worked proactively to involve all the important stakeholders in the discussion. Multi-threaded deals FTW.
Clearly, getting the right stakeholders on a deal is crucial to its success and an important early indicator of success. So, as soon your reps hear authority come up as a blocker, they should make it a point to get the village involved. This baby is clearly not raising itself by itself.
But how do you handle authority objections?
Some questions to ask your prospects:
- “I would love to get them excited about XYZ, what is the best way to…”
- “Is there anything that I can share to help you talk to them?”
- “When would be a good time to include them?”
For more, check out these useful tips by Colleen Francis on how to patch in the decision-maker without burning bridges.
“I’m just not interested.” “Let me think about it.” Bummer.
But how much does this objection impact deal outcomes? According to our data, when the interest objection came up, the deal lost rate went up by 14%.
This means that interest does impact the deal won rate.
Interest is a common objection and perhaps the one that salespeople dread the most. Not a surprise then that when they hear it, they run in the opposite direction and mark the deal as lost. But that should not be the case.
How to handle “not interested”
One of the most common mistakes that sales reps and frontline sellers tend to make it trying to overcome the objection instead of using it as an opportunity to understand their prospects better.
As Ken Baldo puts it in this article: “The salesperson will either give up by hanging up, try some pushy, aggressive way to get through the gatekeeper or call point – to eventually find out it doesn’t work and over-time this creates frustration, desperation and a cry for help to their manager.”
And if they don’t receive the right support and coaching, they just lose heart and eventually confidence, in themselves and in their manager.
Instead, try this to handle interest objections:
- Don’t react, respond. When you coach a sales rep, you don’t try to overcome them. You try to get in with them: on their side. Similarly, when someone says not interested, try to respond not react.
- Validate what they’re saying. Both of you are just doing your jobs.
- Don’t get into ‘fix’ it mode. Take the pressure off. In Exactly what to say, Phil M. Jones talks about the magic of “I’m not sure if it’s for you.” The thing is in a sales situation, the prospect is feeling the pressure of making a decision. And the easiest decision to make is no decision at all, aka status quo. You can avoid that by taking a deal off the table for a bit.
Ultimately, it’s all about building up trust, which brings us to our next objection.
Interestingly, discussions around trust are perhaps the biggest staller.
When trust came up as an objection, both the deal won and deal lost rates dropped by almost 11% and 18%, respectively, and more deals went into the open deal stage, up almost 2%.
When this objection comes up, don’t assume the worst. Perhaps your prospects don’t trust you enough to tell you about their trust issues. Oh, the irony of it!
How can you get your prospects to trust you?
Look, if you’re new in the market or segment, you’re naturally going to face some questions around trust. Your prospects may ask you: how many customers do you have, how long has it been around, when did the company start, what stage are you at, runway, team size, where are you based, etc.
We got them all the time when we first started out in 2018.
And what worked for us was this:
- Working super closely with our initial customers to ensure their success and happiness with our product. Nothing spells trust like word-of-mouth marketing. But the work doesn’t stop there.
- To help your SDRs counter trust questions effectively, you have to make this social proof easily available and discoverable for your team. We’re talking about doubling down on reviews on comparison sites (G2, SourceForge, etc.), case studies, useful blog posts, etc. Help your reps by putting this proof front and centre. We even wrote a post about how to up your review game here.
- More importantly, coach your team to understand what your customers really mean when they’re casually asking about where you’re based or how many employees you have. In all probability, they’re trying to gauge if they can trust you. Learn to recognize the subtext and respond accordingly.
“It’s just bad timing.” AKA “It’s not you, it’s me.” If the prospect says this, should your reps stop selling to them? Hold on to your hats and be prepared to be blown away by the data.
Our data shows that when the timing objection was mentioned, the deal won rate increased by a whopping 31%!
That’s not all. Open deals also dipped by 2.5%.
Clearly, the timing is almost always right to try to sell. It’s truly about how you respond to this objection, making it again a case of a self-limiting belief that your reps can overcome.
How to respond to the timing objection
- Try and dig a bit deeper into the problems they are currently facing and solving for. Be respectful of their journey and priorities.
- If it makes sense, talk about how your solution could help them solve an existing problem or save a bigger headache in the future.
- Understand if it’s a bandwidth or priority issue. If it’s bandwidth, help them understand what exactly will be needed from them and how your team will help. If it’s a priority, perhaps it’s time to go back to establishing value.
“We’re already using…” “Not looking for…”
When the prospect says they’re happy with the status quo, guess what happens if you respond right? The deal won rate goes up by 40%.
This means that if you handle the objection correctly, there is a large scope to work with the prospect to understand why they’re happy (or secretly not) with the status quo and then show them an alternate – and hopefully better – future.
So how do you handle status quo objections? Coach your team to ask questions to understand what the real status is.
- “How is your experience with your current solution?”
- “Has it solved what you wanted to?”
- “Would you say no to trying a better way with no strings attached?”
Sweetening the deal with all-access product trials and pilots helps to get prospects warmed up. Offer these as potential arsenal in your reps’ box of tricks, once you have some buy-in from the prospect.
We’re hopeful that this data and your own experience with sales objections has given you enough ammo to motivate the troops and help them see that not all sales objections are born bad. Some are self-limiting beliefs that when handled correctly, can become early signs of success for the deal.
As with all objections, the key is to coach your team to recognize, respond, and not react to what the prospect says.
- Acknowledge what they’re saying.
- Ask questions so you can understand better.
- Have the right pitch points at hand.
- Build trust and ultimately, show them value in continuing the conversation.
If you ask me, it’s pretty darn close to how basic self-psychology works. Understand, accept, and change what you can. And your life – sorry – pipeline will sort itself out.
Finally, as Dan Thompson writes for Sales Hacker about handling sales objections, “Keep calm and don’t take it personally.”
Here’s to navigating past the troubled waters of sales objections, nay self-limiting beliefs and sailing into calmer sales seas. Any objections?