How to overcome buyer objections without coming across as self-serving
Nobody likes a desperate salesperson
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Nobody likes talking to a desperate salesperson. It’s just awkward. Especially the one who won’t take no for an answer, shits on the competition or tries to argue their point.
At the same time, it’s a universal truth in sales that if your buyer ain’t objecting, you ain’t selling. If all you hear is “yes”, just watch that deal die on the vine in proposal.
So how do salespeople find a balance between arguing and avoiding conflict?
The key lies in understanding that overcoming an objection isn’t about changing your buyer’s mind in real time. Instead it’s about diffusing the situation so that you can continue to make progress and maintain momentum.
There are five techniques you can use to diffuse objections:
Mirror — to show you’ve heard the objection.
Label — to show that you understand it is real and legit.
Ask an Open-Ended Question — to enlist your buyer’s help in solving the problem.
Acknowledge the Negative Emotion — to make it a shared feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Ask a “No” Question — to give the buyer an easy way forward. Buyers are generally on the defensive when talking to salespeople, which naturally leads to saying “no” more often than “yes”.
Most objections can be handled using two or three of the five techniques, so think of them as five tools in your belt, rather than a five-step process to be followed.
Let’s look at some common, real-world examples of buyer objections and how to handle them:
#1. “We already have a vendor”
Mirror: “I see, you already have a vendor.”
Label: “It sounds like you are happy with them.”
Open-Ended Question: “What do you like about them?”
This creates a path to asking about pain and impact and helping the buyer articulate the shortcomings of their existing vendor instead of you dissing them.
#2. “The timing is off”
Mirror: “I see, the timing is off.”
Label: “It sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the moment.”
Acknowledge the Negative: “I’m about to ask you an odd question. Sometimes when people tell me the timing is off, its just a polite way of saying go away you annoying salesperson. Would you like me to go away?”
“No” Question: “Would you be opposed to seeing if there’s an opportunity to improve your sales productivity? Not for right now, but to prepare for the future?
This creates a path to asking about their current solution, pros/cons, pain, impact, stakeholders and identifying a critical event in the future, such as a key initiative or contract expiration.
#3. “I’m not interested”
Label: “Yikes. It sounds like I really messed up this pitch.”
“No” Question: “Would you be opposed to telling me where I went wrong?”
This creates a path to surface what is important to the buyer vs what you thought was important.
#4. “The price is too high”
Mirror: “I see, the price is too high.”
Label: “It sounds like you have a budget in mind.”
Acknowledge the Negative: “Sometimes when people tell me the price is too high, it’s because I haven’t done a good job explaining the impact.”
Open-Ended Question: “How can we better articulate the impact this will have on your business?”
This creates a path to re-drafting the proposal to tie it to the impact the buyer and their colleagues care about.
#5. “Our procurement team is pushing back on the contract”
Mirror: “I see, procurement is pushing back.”
Label: “It sounds like your procurement team has a process they need to follow.”
Open-Ended Question: “How can we change the contract to help your team process it?”
#6. “Can you send me some information?”
Open Ended Question: “Of course, what kind of information would you like me to send?”
This creates a path to further probe for why that information is of interest and the underlying problem the buyer is trying to solve.
#7. “You don’t have feature X”
Mirror: “Yep, we don’t have feature X.”
Label: “It sounds like feature X is really important to you.”
Open-Ended Question: “What kinds of problems would you be looking to solve with Feature X?”
This creates a path to probe for how often those problems come up, how much impact they have and whether they can be addressed with a work-around.
What other common objections did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading! If you found this email useful, please share it and if you got forwarded it, please consider subscribing! I write weekly about the common sales, marketing and leadership issues holding back startups from growing faster.
This is great!! It sounds exacly like Chris Voss's Book Never Split The Difference. An Excellet read!!