“Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am.), so quoted by the famous philosopher, Rene Descartes. Sure, thinking is a great mental exercise. But he most certainly wasn’t talking about the time when prospects say “I need to think about it” after getting all the details about your products or services.
Objections like “I need to think about it” is one of the subtle ways a prospect says “no” or “I need more time.” You might come to think about why they’d come up with these responses. They may be deliberating before coming up with a decision or looking for some more information to choose from at the moment, or they may not be the decision-maker in the situation. Most often, it’s the response prospects give when they’re worried about the pricing and their budget.
“No” might be a short word, but it’s one of the scariest ones in the English language for any salesperson. However, come to think of it this way: if everyone said “yes”, salespeople won’t have a job. The reason why salespeople are hired is that people are objecting and consider other options all the time.
Sales objections in the B2B industry are painful, especially when there’s a quota you’re trying to hit. They’re something every salesperson struggles with, and together with B2B lead generation, that’s also one of the challenges they encounter. But if you want to perform better in your job and stand out from the rest, you’ll have to anticipate these challenges and learn to love the “no’s.”
Here are the different types of “no’s” you probably encounter as a salesperson:
The Generic “No”
Phrases like “It’s too expensive”, “I’m not interested”, or “I don’t have time” in the early stages of a sales call don’t necessarily mean they’re saying “no” to your offers. They’re giving generic “no’s”
At this point, your prospects are wanting attention, time, and credibility. The reason why they’re still hesitant to make a decision is that they don’t possibly have enough information to make them realize that your products are valuable to them. What they’re saying is ‘I’m saying “no” because you haven’t convinced me enough to buy or you haven’t resolved my concerns.”
The Maybe “No”
The “no’s” your prospects give in the later part of the sales process need to be taken more seriously, since these objections become more product-centered and specific. But worry not. Most of the time, these “no’s” actually mean “maybe” or “not yet”.
To deal with a maybe “no”, you’ll have to go further into the actual problem and find the root causes behind this objection. These responses from your prospects will sometimes shed light on your product’s weak points which you can improve to make your products better.
Some questions you’ll need to generate answers from your prospects are:
- Why do we need this specific solution/feature? How would they implement it?
- Is this the objection we often see in our target market?
- Is this an important feature we need to build to boost our product’s overall value?
The “No” kind of “No”
Some things aren’t meant to be forced. There are instances when a “no” actually means “no”, and pushing it too hard will cause a waste of time and resources, damage your brand, and waste a valuable learning opportunity.
Find out why they said “no” through these guide questions:
In what ways did we fail to show or deliver value to the prospect?
- What do people think about the problem we try to solve?
- Should we change the way we pitch our products and our sales approach?
You’ll most likely hear these “no’s” when your prospects still aren’t convinced to commit to buying your products or services. At times, they are still undecided or still considering other brand options. Their inability to decide stems from sales objections or the reasons why prospects won’t buy your products or services.
The 4 Types of Objections
These objections typically fall into four categories. These are:
- Lack of Budget
- Lack of Trust
- Lack of Need
- Lack of Urgency
Successful sales depend on the following factors: When the products or services you sell are within your prospect’s budget when you have the authority to convince them when they need your offerings, and most importantly when the timing is right. Such a phenomenon is called BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing). BANT is a type of sales lead qualification process which is designed to identify which leads are worth pursuing.
Unsuccessful sales are attributed to the absence of these factors. Hence, it’s apt to say that sales objections are the inverse of BANT:
#1 Lack of Budget: “It’s too expensive.”, “Your price is too high.”
Most of the objections you come across are due to money, pricing, and budget matters. It all boils down to one reason: All purchases come with financial risks. The most common concerns that fall into this category are cost, price, budget, and return on investment (ROI).
Sales reps should be able to justify the costs by building value in the conversation. Through this, the customers will feel that they have less to lose and their concerns will be alleviated.
#2 Lack of Trust: I don’t know you or your company enough.
Prospects might be concerned with your company’s credibility and legitimacy, and that’s why they’re hesitant to do business with you. This type of objection surfaces when a good rapport or relationship between the customer and the seller wasn’t established. Building rapport and sincerity right from the initial contact pays off in the end. Remember, people are more confident to do business with the people they know, like, and trust.
#3 Lack of Need: “I don’t see how your product/service can help me.”
This might sound like an objection, but it’s an opportunity to exchange information with your prospect. Using layered and open-ended questions will help you qualify prospects and evaluate their needs.
Sometimes, this roots from the quality of service concerns like the quality of your products and services, the responsiveness and speed of your service, and your staff’s training. It’s important to prove your product value and how it can solve your prospects’ pain points at every stage of the sales process.
#4 Lack of Urgency: “This isn’t important for me right now”, “Give me time to think about it and I’ll circle back.”
Customers are more likely to cancel orders or abandon carts as the sale is closing. This is because they feel pressured, thus putting off their decision-making. Some factors that play into this behavior are fears, anxieties, conflicts, and unsettling details of the transaction. It’s the salesperson’s job to guide the buyer up to the last part of the customer’s journey by making sure every detail is fully worked out. All your customers need is the assurance that your company has satisfactorily served other clients, especially those who are in the same industry.
Responding to prospects who consider other options
Most people think that the most crucial part of the sales process is when the customer hands in the money, but it’s actually every single step of the consumer’s journey that influences consumer behavior that plays a vital role.
Consumers don’t just buy for ownership, they buy for value. The biggest challenge for businesses is to make their brand the most preferred one among all competitors. Putting your best foot forward in a business transaction and doing your best efforts to provide information and insights to your prospect, sadly, do not ensure a successful purchase.
Salespeople commonly go head to head with the “competitor” objection when talking to new prospects. The moment the buyer realizes the nature or function of your product or service, he/she responds with the likes of “We already have a supplier for that.” or “We’re already working with Competitor X”.
Such objections or rejections are difficult to deal with, but that’s part of a salesperson’s job. It’s best not to take these personally, but rather as a challenge to do better. Take it as a challenge to understand what’s going on inside the mind of your prospect when they object. Most importantly, you have to overcome the “competitor” objection. You can do these through these steps:
- You’ll need to figure out if your prospect actually has an existing vendor relationship or is just blowing you off.
- Maintain their interest in the conversation long enough to convince them of the benefits of working with you (even if they have already chosen a competing solution).
- Find the gaps in their current contract or offer.
Achieving all three can be challenging, especially when you’re on the phone and your prospect is drifting off minute by minute.
The following responses will assist you in efficiently overcoming the competition objection so you can continue with the sale, or properly respond while keeping the tabs open even if they end up choosing another option.
#1 “That’s wonderful. What do you appreciate most about working with [competition]?”
Initially, asking the prospect why they like the competition seems like a bad idea. But according to Dan Fisher, a sales strategist, this question prompts the prospect to expound on what they found unsatisfying about their vendors. You just need to be patient.
“No matter what they say in response, wait seven to 10 seconds. The silence will become uncomfortable — and that’s when the prospect will often offer up a negative comment or concern.”, Fisher says.
#2 “Oh, I’m familiar with [competition]. We actually used them at my previous job. At the moment, I’m not trying to convince you to go with us instead. I think it’s best to take a good look at your situation and we’ll see if [product] is a good fit.
This response works in two ways: The first part validates the prospect, while the second part encourages them to open up about their situation. Once they start talking about their situation, you’ll find out how satisfied they are with their vendor at the moment. Pay attention to their complaints and find out which ones your products can solve.
#3 “Ah. yes. We actually had a few clients who used to work with [company/vendor]. Have you had any issues with [common vendor pain point]?
This question pulls a little bit more on pain points. When using this as a response, make sure to use the challenges you verified with some of their former clients. Trash-talking your prospect when they confirmed that they underwent similar issues is a huge no-no. Focus on the solutions your product/service can provide instead.
#4 “That’s good to hear. I’m curious to know– what do you think makes the relationship work very well?
This question, according to RAIN Group President Mike Schultz, is a non-threatening manner of making the prospect open up. Using “I’m curious to know” questions enables you to probe deeper into the relationship. If the prospect replies with a “no” to an inquiry, Schultz suggests digging deeper to look for ways you may improve on their current service.
#5 “Okay, I really appreciate your time discussing [product] in the past few weeks. If you don’t mind, I’d like to book a schedule to reach back out to you to see how things are going. Does that sound good?”
At this point, the customer may already have made it clear that he/she isn’t interested in buying anything from you or your company. However, you can still try to keep contacts open for future transactions.
This response is useful when keeping up a friendly relationship and presenting yourself as a diligent salesperson. If your customer agrees to keep the contact line open for future use, take it as an opportunity to hear about personal and professional life. Establish yourself as an ally before jumping back into another sales pitch.
#6 “I’d like to know, is your contract up for renewal anytime soon?”
Every minute is precious when it comes to your prospect’s time or yours. Asking if their contract is up for renewal at any moment from now enables you to gauge if there’s any reason to carry on with the conversation. For example, if they signed a two-year extension, it means that they’re happy with their provider and won’t be changing vendors for the next 24 months. Asking a single question can help you calculate your next move.
#7 “Have they ever let you down? How did that impact your business?” (Follow-up question when the prospect says “yes”)
Craig Elias, founder of Trigger Event Selling prescribes using this question to challenge the status quo of your prospect. Follow it up with “How did that impact your business?” if he/she says yes. Lastly, ask him/her what the vendor did to solve the issue and stop it from happening again.
Every “no” is an opportunity to grow
Every businessman’s desire to succeed is natural, and part of it is learning to love the “no’s” as much as you love the “yes'”. When you work in a system that’s always winning and succeeding, your potential for optimal growth is crippled since your success parameters are limited. Success, when constant, loses its value. The saying rings true: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.”
While the “yes’’ and the wins keep you confident and smug, it’s the “no’s” that give you feedback and insight on which aspects to improve. More importantly, they motivate you to do better and try harder.
Every prospect’s “no”, “I need more time” and “I’ll think about it” may sound appalling, but it’s better to view these objections as opportunities to learn, build relationships, and build your brand. Virtually, objection handling is unavoidable in sales but take care not to cut off bridges with your prospects. There are times when a prospect leaves with a positive perception and recommends you to associates who end up doing business with you.
In the end, appreciate every prospect who spared their time to tell you that they’ve chosen someone else over you, especially those who give feedback on why they did so. Thank them for their time and offer something free like advice and handouts that might help them in their projects. Most importantly, leave the door unlocked for future work/collaboration.
Handle rejection gracefully. How you deal with being told “no” is one of the best indicators of success in the future.