Objection Handling in Sales: Everything You Need to Know

August 13, 2021

Daniel Blaser

Overcoming sales objections takes experience and a quick wit. Sales reps also need an array of effective strategies to deal with sales objections, which can take many forms. Fortunately, we have plenty of insights and sales tools to offer that can help you meet the challenge of sales objections.

But before we dig into strategies and walk you through several common sales objection examples, let’s briefly cover what objection handling actually is.

What Is Objection Handling? #

Imagine you’re meeting with a prospect, and they suddenly raise a concern about the product you’re selling. The concern could be related to a very specific issue—or something broad. After listening, you respond with an answer that addresses the concern and satisfies the prospect. At that point, you resume your sales conversation and continue moving the deal toward a potential close.

Sometimes you might have to pause your sales call more than once to address your prospects' concerns. It can be somewhat frustrating. But if you’re prepared to address common sales objections, you can keep the dialogue flowing as smoothly as possible. Additionally, confidently addressing a buyer’s concerns helps establish trust, which can go a long way toward earning new or expanded business down the line.

How Do Top Sales Professionals Handle Objections? #

We recently analyzed >85,000 sales rep responses to competitor mentions and around 10,000 responses to topics that were deemed “problems and issues” by using the Chorus.ai Conversation Intelligence Platform. We wanted to learn what top reps are doing differently when it comes to handling objections in sales. For example, we looked at:

  • The pause between the customer’s utterance of an objection and the beginning of a rep’s response to it
  • The initial response (first utterance) and whether it contained a question
  • The speech rate change compared with the speaker’s average rate in the call

Our analysis found that top sales professionals handled sales objections by being well-prepared, knowledgeable, confident, calm, and consistent. When we compared the objection-handling capabilities of top reps with others, we found that the top reps:

  • Responded to sales objections up to 50% faster than other reps.
  • Didn’t change their speech rate when responding to sales objections.
  • Took their time to answer a prospect’s objection before asking a follow-up question (and spent about 32 seconds to do so in 80% of the cases that we analyzed).

Six Objection-Handling Skills for Responding to Objections #

In addition to being calm, confident, and well-prepared like the top reps in our recent analysis, try these approaches for how to overcome objections in sales successfully:

  • Show gratitude: Thank the prospect for sharing their concerns and communicating candidly with you. Example: “I really appreciate you being upfront about this. And I’m happy to inform you that we work successfully with other customers with similar challenges.”
  • Express empathy: Let the prospect know you understand how they could feel the way they do, even if you disagree with the sales objection. Example: “Let me first say that I completely understand where you’re coming from. Jack Dowson of Acme, Inc., said something very similar to me last week.”
  • Investigate: Ask questions to better understand a prospect’s sales objection and what’s motivating it. Example: “Just so I have the right response or solution for you, can you tell me a little bit more about those conversion issues you just mentioned?”
  • Confirm your understanding: State your understanding of the objection and verify you heard the prospect correctly. (This is a type of active listening, which also builds trust.) Example: “So, to confirm, your concern is that your prior experience with automation solutions didn’t yield the ROI you were expecting. Is that right?”
  • Show value: A highly effective strategy for overcoming sales objections is to demonstrate value through support materials or a revised offer. It can be a blunt or even showy way of batting back an objection, but it’s effective. Example: “Do you think your executive team would consider our product if we showed you how you could add $100,000 to your top line within three months?”

Offer proof: Use the power of case studies, testimonials, social proof, and client references to approach the objection from a third-party point of view. There is no more convincing defense against objections than showing off how your product has worked before. Example: “What would you think if I organized a call with Jack Dowson of Acme, Inc., who could explain how they used our solution to add $100,000 to their top line in three months?”

8 Top Objections and Suggested Responses #

Attempting to create a cheat sheet to cover every possible concern isn’t feasible. But you should prepare a solid response to the most common sales objections, like the eight listed below that are identified by Chorus.ai’s advanced AI solution. We’ve also collected some suggested talk tracks:

Sales Objection Example 1. “Your price is too high.” #

The best way to handle a pricing objection is to first share a point of view (POV) or story. Respond with confidence that your pricing strategy is well-researched, in line with market pricing, and justified. Follow that with a question so you can dig deeper into the objection and, at the same time, steer the conversation toward value.

Questions to ask:

  • “Can you tell me more about why you feel the price is too high? What price were you expecting?”
  • “What would need to happen to make the offering worth the price I quoted you?”
  • “How do you think this price compares to the value you will get from it within X months?”

If the real challenge is that the prospect doesn’t understand the value you provide, or another person in the decision-making process is pushing back, there are several things you can do, such as:

  • Setting up an alignment call to walk everyone through each line item and how it justifies the cost so that the prospect is clear on the entire value of your offer.
  • Share testimonials and case studies, or even connect the prospect with a client who can share their experience by phone.
  • Demonstrate the cost of doing nothing at all.

Sales Objection Example 2. “I don’t believe this will work for us.” #

This objection signals that there might be an insurmountable hurdle standing in the way. Try responding with an anecdote from another customer who felt the same way and hesitated, only to later say “yes” and see quick results.

Questions to ask:

  • “Can you elaborate on why that’s the case?”
  • “What would need to happen to change that?”

If you uncover that the prospect is really more concerned that your solution won’t work for them at all, try strategies such as:

  • Walking through a buying guide so the prospect is more comfortable with the next steps in the process and how to measure success.
  • Connecting the prospect internally to a subject matter expert.
  • Reframing the offer and starting smaller.

When all else fails, establish when it will be a better time to talk about implementing your solution. Ensure that you or your marketing team nurtures this prospect until you want to get back in touch again.

Sales Objection Example 3. “This is not a priority for us.” #

This objection often signals that you may be speaking to a prospect who doesn’t have the authority to reprioritize projects. If so, you need to find creative ways to get in front of more senior decision-makers without “going around” your prospect. There are several ways to do this without annoying your current prospect. You could:

  • Ask your champion to introduce you, and say you’d love to help jointly make the business case or host an educational workshop for the larger team.
  • Have your CEO or sales leader reach out.
  • Engage with the decision-makers on social media or by referencing their thought leadership.

Sales Objection Example 4. “I’ll buy from you if you add ‘X’ feature.” #

Sometimes, prospects seek a solution that isn’t what you currently offer. That’s OK, but it’s critical for your team to align on what types of product changes you’d consider pursuing in a given time frame.

When you encounter this sales objection, consider using an anecdote from another customer who felt they needed the same feature but ultimately found they could drive results without it. Once you’re able to establish that others have successfully found their way past this objection, you can dig deeper into the prospect’s specific situation.

Questions to ask:

  • “Why is this feature so necessary for you right now?”
  • “Do you think we could still provide value to you without providing this feature?”
  • “If we can’t provide this feature, what alternatives would you consider?”

When a product request is necessary and expected, you can handle this objection by clearly communicating a timeline. Or, you could ask the prospect to provide support in getting that feature built alongside you, such as development resources, additional payment, or contributions to a product council. However, if the product request is a distraction:

  • Share a POV with your prospect to explain why they don’t need this feature—or how they can get it through a recommended partner.
  • Use social proof, such as case-study videos and testimonials, to highlight the fact that others with similar challenges have achieved the results they needed with your product as it is.

Sales Objection Example 5. “We’re already working with X competitor” #

Perhaps your prospect is working with a competitor—and happy with that relationship. Or, perhaps they are unhappy, but currently under contract and unable to spend more now on your solution.

In either case, you can handle this sales objection in two ways:

1. Identify an area where you can uniquely offer something the competitor can’t complement.

Sample Response 1. (Comparative): “That’s good to hear. [Competitor] is a top performer. In fact, we run into them in our sales cycle every now and then. However, businesses that choose to transfer to our platform often find our product makes accomplishing [X goal] much easier because it has [unique benefit #1] and [unique benefit #2].”

2. Send a quick POV to the prospect with questions to ask the competing vendor, highlighting some of the vendor’s shortcomings when compared with your offering.

Sample Response 2. (Proof): “At this point, I’m not asking you to rip anything out. I’d just like the opportunity to show you how we’re different, and how we’ve provided additional value to our customers. I can present some use cases of other companies, such as [names of customers], that considered both of us but chose to work with our company.”

If the prospect engages further, you can potentially pull together a proposal to show how you would approach their business differently and drive better results through your solution. For instance, customers who might be weighing using both Chorus.ai and one of our competitors might be interested to know about our superior data provision and integrations with Zoom and Salesforce.

To provide a better response, ask a few follow-up questions, such as:

Questions to ask:

  • “What types of results are you seeing with them?”
  • “Could anything be going better?”
  • “Will you evaluate other partners in the future, and, if so, when does that process begin?”

If you find there’s no near-term opportunity to unseat a competitor, continue educating your prospect and share your unique market positioning while focusing on other accounts.

Sales Objection Example 6. “We’re going with X competitor instead.” #

While unfortunate, sometimes in the sales process you learn that your prospect has selected a competitor. If they haven’t signed a contract yet, get to work on this sales objection immediately.

First, use an anecdote from another customer who either switched from that vendor to your solution or went with that vendor and later regretted it. If you don’t have an example like this, use questions like the following:

Questions to ask:

  • “I sincerely appreciate your feedback because it helps us improve our offering. Can you please tell me who you’re choosing instead and what motivated the decision to select them over us?”
  • “Is there any way we could change our offer that would lead you to select us over them?”
  • “How do you think the post-sale experience will be with them?”

Once you learn more, it’s critical to take the following actions:

  • Send the prospect a quick POV on questions to ask the other vendor that will highlight some of their shortcomings when compared with your offering.
  • Offer to connect the prospect with a reference and share case studies and testimonials.
  • Resubmit a better offer and walk their team through the proposal.
  • Find an opportunity to network in person.

Often, this is the time to bring in an executive, a sales engineer, the head of analytics, or another member of the team to support you.

Sales Objection Example 7. “Just email me more information.” #

Prospects who ask you to email more information are either really busy or, more likely than not, not convinced that this is a priority right now. This is often the case on cold calls.

This is one scenario in which you may want to follow up with a question sooner than with other objections. Before you send anything, use questions like the ones below to understand what would most intrigue the prospect.

Questions to ask:

  • “Sure thing! What information will be most useful to you?”
  • “If I send you this information and you read through it, what’s the likelihood that you’ll want to reconnect to talk about our solution?”
  • “Is there someone else on your team I should be connecting with who would make decisions about our solution?”

Sales Objection Example 8. “I will need to sell this internally to others.” #

It’s a great sign when your prospect communicates with you about their internal process. However, you don’t typically want your prospect to sell your solution to others on their own. That can lead to misalignment or things getting lost in translation, especially if your offering is complex.

Handling objections like this one requires getting the prospect to work with you as a team. First, explain how you can do most of the heavy lifting for them. Once they’re convinced that they need your help—and you can set them up for success—find out more about who and what they need your assistance with.

Questions to ask:

  • “Who else needs to be convinced? And what materials do you need to be successful?”
  • “Would it help if we jointly presented the business case?”
  • “What red flags can you anticipate, or what obstacles might stand in our way?”

When No Means No

Sometimes, no just means no, and it’s time to move on. However, before you do, it’s important to learn as much as you can from the experience, especially if the loss was a particularly painful one in a category you’re trying to own, or it was a strategic account.

Questions to ask:

  • “I’d love to understand where our offering fell short so we can improve it.”
  • “I’d love to understand where I could have improved my process as your account executive.”

You can ask these questions on a call and then reprise them in your closed-lost follow-up. Use this feedback to brainstorm with your team about new ways to deliver or show value. Share insights with marketing that help them understand how the market is thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve. Also, consider ideas to improve the sales narrative and materials.

How Other Functions Can Support Sales #

Pros who are adept at handling sales objections are often the reps who’ve received the best training and most support from other functions and roles using sales collateral, talk tracks, feedback, and more.

It truly takes a village to handle all the common sales objections your sellers will face. And almost every team in your organization has a role to play:

  • Product marketing and sales enablement: Marketing and sales enablement need to lead trainings and create materials that help sales reps handle objections. They should be responsible for owning the talk tracks the team uses and ensuring that everyone is aligned.

At Chorus, our team also builds playlists of recorded calls to help the sales team hear how to handle common sales objections. (Always measure to learn with your call-recording data.)

Also, your digital marketing and branding should reflect the success of your product in a way that might head off potential objections before you even get on a call. Are you communicating social proof, client testimonials, and success metrics in your literature and on your site?

  • Customer success: These specialists should work hard to identify potential case studies, testimonials, and client references for reps to use in the sales process. They should also contribute to content that highlights best practices.
  • Product management: Product management should support objections with training and a clear product road map so the team can “sell the future vision” without overpromising. They also need to be willing to join necessary calls, especially when a deal is at risk due to missing features or functionality.
  • Sales ops: The data and analytics team should help reps make an ROI case and measure the effectiveness of the product. They should build credibility through thought leadership and, when necessary, join calls to dispel concerns about ROI or value.
  • Executive team: Many companies assign an executive sponsor to major deals so they can address sales objections with people at the top and make the prospect feel special. Executives can play a significant role in building trust when you and your team handle sales objections. Their presence also demonstrates a commitment to key prospects in highly competitive deals.

You’ve Got This #

It’s important to remember that objections are not an indictment of your abilities—they are just a fundamental part of the sales process.

Think of objection handling as a puzzle with multiple stages. First, uncover the “why” behind the objection, and then proceed with confidence by sharing details of your product’s performance or other anecdotal proof of its effectiveness.

Once you’ve batted away the lead objection, proactively look for more. Use open-ended questions in the discovery phase to understand the original objection and surface additional sales objections. Back your business case up with value and reference points and leave your prospect without a doubt in their mind about your product’s worth.

Of course, there will be times when prospecting goes awry, budgetary circumstances change, or a competitor is just better positioned to offer the prospect what they want. That’s okay. The ultimate secret to overcoming sales objections is to trust your product’s value. More than likely, what you’re offering is exactly what your prospect needs—all you need to do is demonstrate it.

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