After 20 years in the sales game I have found that the most common objections are really only caused by two things:
- You haven’t sold value (To the individual, not the company)
- Funds are not forthcoming because you haven’t sold to the person with the ability to reallocate budgets.
To illustrate my point and to give you some tools that you can use, I will focus on 3 common objections and explain what you can do differently to avoid them. You will note that I am not focusing on how to counter them, but rather how to avoid them coming up in the first place.
Objection 1: “There is no budget/This solution is not needed”
This objection occurs most commonly in the following two situations
Issue 1: You are selling to someone who has been assigned a budget, but not the person who allocated budgets.
A key characteristic of an executive is that they have the ability to reallocate funds. If you are selling to anyone other than a person with an executive title, then you are playing a risky game by dealing too low in the organization. When selling value, you must do so all the way to the top, otherwise you may lose opportunities even if you have the support of a primary contact. Not to mention you are at the mercy of a competitor who can influence the allocation of funds through executive relationships.
Issue 2: You are selling ROI for the company and forgetting that humans buy, not ‘companies’.
I have lost count of the number of ROI positive business cases that have fallen short of the mark, even when there was a huge benefit for the company – The reason is that people are self- interested, and if you don’t uncover what personally motivates the decision makers in a process, you will not overcome organizational inertia. People inevitably take the path of least resistance and despite the fact it may provide a material net return, if it doesn’t provide personal benefit to your contacts, then you will often get knocked back.
Objection 2: “Timing is not good – We will do it, but later”
This objection occurs when you haven’t sold time bound ROI. In every sales process you should be able to articulate the value of your offering in terms of increase/decrease, quantified in # or $ per month. The reason for this is that you can then explain that any delay is a conscious decision by the prospect to forego whatever that benefit is every month. The line you need to be able to write is, “Every month of delay, will cost [company x] $XXXX.” If you can’t do that, then you haven’t built an executive-ready business case.
Objection 3: “Your price is too high”
This should be the easiest objection to defeat – As sales professionals we should never be selling anything that doesn’t result in a net benefit for both sides. Your business case research and competitive analysis should defeat this easily. There are two scenarios where this occurs:
There is no immediate competition, but the customer is balking at the price.
During the sales process you should have uncovered the key value metrics, developed an ROI model that supports your price and results in a positive net present value for the prospect. You should be able to defend your price by stating that the forecast benefit is as a result of the quality incorporated in your service/product and therefore is the only way for it to be attained. If you haven’t built an ROI model, then you are on very shaky ground.
The competition is undercutting you.
This is where true sales professionalism comes to the fore. In your discovery you should have uncovered the key hot buttons for your prospect, providing you with the ability to amplify your strengths and attenuate those of your competition. The pre-requisite is that you have confirmed what is truly important to your prospect and the ROI attached to that. In this case you can use a line similar to, “Of course you could opt for a lower cost solution, but that will not provide you with [key feature] that you said will key in you achieving [key outcome].”
Summary: The objection prevention kit
In summary, when I am reviewing an opportunity with a senior sales professional, I am looking for the key hygiene elements as follows:
- Access and credibility with executives who have the ability to reallocate budget.
- A business case that describes quantifiable, time-bound return on investment, with an emphasis on solution features that differentiate us from the competition.
- An articulation of how the solution will contribute to the decision-maker’s personal agenda.
In conclusion – The best way to address the big objections is to not receive them in the first place, but if you do, be forearmed with the antidote.