A Guide to Objection Handling in B2B Sales
For a sales executive, there always comes a time when a prospect is hesitant about your solution. The prospect may genuinely have a problem, or they may be coming up with excuses to avoid expressing disinterest. In these situations, one must know exactly what to say, and most importantly, how to say it.
As always, the buying cycle depends entirely upon the buyer, which is why it is crucial that sales executives understand their prospects. There are various reasons a prospect or sales qualified lead may present a rejection, but almost all arguments fall within three categories:
Recognizing these archetypal problems is an excellent start for successfully handling an objection, but it isn’t enough to simply have a cut and paste response. This is where the psychology aspect of sales plays in; the sales executive must evaluate the legitimacy of the objection in order to craft a proper rebuttal.
Ultimately, in order to refute a sales rejection, one must be equipped with a healthy mix of empathy, manners, patience, persistence, and tact.
Naturally, decision-makers are skeptical about spending money unless they understand the clear-cut benefits of the product/service they are buying. Budget objections occur quite frequently, and sales executives must understand exactly why this happens.
Oftentimes, pricing objections are a purely emotional phenomenon that occur due to human psychology and the associated phobia of risk. Think of it this way, a purchase requires the individual to part with a resource necessary for survival. If the value is not returned or exceeded, then loss is suffered and survival is threatened.
The best way to counter emotional objections is solid reasoning. So let’s go over the most common explanations for why the prospect may deem your solution to be too expensive:
- The value is misunderstood
- The price is under evaluation
- The cost was brought up too quickly
- The bargaining process has begun
Understanding the Value
The rebuttal to the first reason is simple, make the prospect see the benefits of your solution in the most personalized way possible. This includes highlighting how it impacts the bottom line of the business, explaining how it works, and bringing up real-world examples of its advantages.
Because humans generally gravitate towards solutions that help them avoid pain, explain to the prospect how your product or service will alleviate a key problem based on their current responsibilities.
It’s crucial to include emotional arguments alongside empirical evidence to refute an emotion-based objection.
Understanding the Price
When a prospect is offering a budget objection, they may just be confused about the price of the solution. This may be because the price wasn’t discussed yet, or because they do not understand why the price is at its current value.
Usually the prospect is sceptical about the price because they haven’t been convinced of the benefits your solution offers.
All people use previous buying experiences to help them gauge the appropriateness of a solution’s price. This logic is faulty because your product/service may be different from others in a myriad of different ways.
Highlighting the competitive advantages of your solution helps the prospect understand it’s value and the reasoning behind the price. Buyers will always choose quality over price if they believe the solution is beneficial for their business.
Assuring the prospect that the price has been meticulously calculated for fairness and financial solvency helps to put their subjective opinion into consideration.
Timing is everything in sales. A sales executive must know the precise moment to mention price, or fix bad timing mistakes as quickly as possible.
As previously mentioned, the prospect must first be made aware of the value of your product before the price is discussed. If not, the solution will seem like a risky investment and the price will seem daunting.
If a timing mistake happens, it’s vital to go back to square one and explain exactly how your solution solves their problems.
Unfortunately, every sales executive encounters prospects trying to lower the price on their solution. The key is to be direct and firm. Asking the prospect whether they are trying to negotiate is an effective and time saving solution to this problem.
If you are intent on staying at the original price level and it’s non-negotiable, say so right away. This avoids unnecessary altercations and gives you the advantage of honesty, shifting the balance of power towards your favour.
Timing is one of the most ambiguous reasons to reject a sales executive. In many cases, timing is used as a polite excuse not to convert, because the prospect wasn’t serious to begin with.
Understanding the difference between a serious objection and an excuse is vital with timing related objections. Ironically, to see whether a timing objection is serious, you must look at its timing in the conversation.
At the same time, you must figure out a way to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your conversation and make it feel like the natural next step in the process. The main goal is to advance the prospect through the sales pipeline without making it blatantly obvious.
Concern Comes Too Soon
If your prospect brings up a timing objection during the early stages of the buying process, it’s most likely an excuse and they weren’t serious to begin with. The prospect is probably seeking to end the call as soon as possible, hiding behind a seemingly legitimate reason.
In this case, the sales executive should use the most potent weapons in his arsenal – persistence and the time limit.
Asking questions such as “How can I accommodate your schedule?” are simple yet effective ways to flip the script on the prospect and increase your chances of keeping their interest.
Persistence is a dangerous tactic best used in moderation as it can give the impression of rudeness or stubbornness. However, persistence can boost your conversion rate resulting in a positive return on business development.
Similarly, the time limit tactic also turns the tables and seizes the initiative. Setting a time limit on your offer, either in regards to its price or its viability in general is an effective tactic for convincing seemingly disinterested prospects.
Concern Comes Later On
When a timing objection occurs later on in the sales process, for example during a sales appointment or demo, then it is more likely to be legitimate. The prospect’s business may not have a big enough budget this quarter, or upper management may have ordered them to stall the process.
In this case, you must delve deep into the problem. Empathetically ask questions about the reasoning behind the delay. Find out how you may accommodate the procurement team, or what will change if the prospect waits.
The key is to highlight the advantages of taking action right now, and not later on. Ask them whether the issue their company is trying to solve is a pressing one. If so, remain adamant that your solution is the right fit for their predicament.
Scheduling another appointment, even if it is much later on, is better than losing the prospect, which is why the sales executive must do everything to do just that.
Another Vendor Objection
Lastly, the ‘another vendor’ objection is one of the easiest to deal with. In this case, the prospect believes that a competitor of yours provides a better fit for what they’re looking for.
With this reasoning, you must know exactly what the prospect wants and prove that your solution is the best one. Of course, this requires solid, in-depth knowledge of your competitors and their weaknesses, as well as your competitive advantages.
There are several arguments you can employ, depending on the situation of your prospect.
Value Added Argument
If your prospect is already working with another vendor, and they’re satisfied with their results, the added value approach can help seal the deal.
Instead of asking the prospect to abandon their current vendor, simply offer them a deal where you work together with the vendor as a side vendor. This way, if your solution turns out to be a better fit for the prospective company, they can switch later on.
A value response added may sound something like, “It’s good to hear you are pleased with your current partnership. We would still love to discuss any place we can add value to your current solution.”
We’ve all heard the question, “How are you different from the others?” This is not so much a question as a direct invitation for you to go into detail about your company’s competitive edge.
Highlight the uniqueness of your solution. Make a major aspect of it seem different from your competitors. This captures the interest of the prospect.
Including real world examples, such as case studies where a company switched from one vendor to your company helps back up your arguments and appeals to the emotional side of the prospect’s reasoning. Competitive comparison helps appeal to the more fact-based and objective reasoning of the prospect, ensuring a well rounded rebuttal of the ‘another vendor’ objection.
It is crucial to include a CTA such as a call or appointment in your discussion to explain the competitive advantages of your company, because it moves the prospect through the sales pipeline.
In general, there is no set formula for offering rebuttals to sales objections, but there is a pattern most objections follow. Understanding why the objection comes up is equally as essential to converting your leads as recognizing which type of objection you are dealing with. Oftentimes, the problem has to do with mistakes committed by the salesperson rather than the prospect, and it’s important to understand when to correct them. With the knowledge of your prospect and their situation, you can craft a personalized rebuttal using the general strategies presented above, ensuring you achieve the highest conversion rate possible.
To learn more about different ways to convert your leads, visit our guide to B2B appointment setting.