As Salespeople, Should We Be Overcoming Objections or Questioning Them?

As salespeople when our eyes are too tight on the prize and we get thrown an objection, our brain says, how can I take what they are saying and turn it around to my point of view? How can I overcome this objection?

How will that help them see things from my lens? In short, it won’t.

Our role as sales people is to understand the objections.  Where are they coming from? Why are they throwing specific ones at certain stages in the process and what are true objections vs I want out.How can we de-risk our calls, lead with transparency. Acknowledge the objective upfront, lead with it and avoid looking like we were hiding something when our prospect brings it up during our meeting.

“Our CRM package has the latest features we discussed, auto-population, customization and battlecards". It does not have the ability to integrate with system X and it probably won’t over its life cycle. If this is a dealbreaker, happy to talk about it now so we don’t waste time and resources.”This level of transparency disarms your audience and immediately starts building trust, it is unexpected behaviour. It also allows you to control the message vs your competitors sharing this and potentially adding some details, giving the illusion you are not being upfront and honest with them.

An objection usually means I don’t have enough information, my brain doesn’t want to do any additional work and connect the dots, so the path of least resistance is

“This is not a good fit”, “I don’t need it”, “I don’t have a budget“or “we are happy”.Typically, your prospect doesn’t have enough information to make a decision, there is not a compelling reason to change so they start building a wall to keep things easy, and to keep you out.The goal of our brain is to keep us safe and conserve energy, it’s not that they don’t find what you are saying interesting, they can’t connect the dots to see what this will actually do for them, what is the benefit on the other side?

If it is not clear, spelled out and visual the brain reverts back to it’s purpose of keeping us safe and conserving energy. It is not going to expend energy on something with no guarantees at the end.

As salespeople, what can we ask ourselves as we get thrown objections?

1) Do I truly understand their business, their challenges or goals? The business outcomes that this will help them achieve? Have I done a good job getting to impact, eliciting an emotion, showing them what happens after the purchase?  If so, chances are your solution will strike a chord?

2) If not, typically the first step has not been agreed on by your prospect, they haven’t acknowledged they have a problem worth solving. We have only gotten to surface pain, they don’t see the future state or euphoria once goals are achieved. The path to implementation hasn’t been discussed, they need to see the full picture, it is easier to throw a grenade in the form of objection then to start addressing all these items. Again, the brain is tired. Our customers are evaluating if the squeeze is worth the juice?

So ask yourself did I do enough discovery before presenting my solution, is this objection warranted? Or do they smell too much work and not enough reward on the other end and they want out? Or are overwhelmed and decide to join 60% of their friends on team No decision.

What about mid-way? Are you getting objectives around timing, buy in, integration challenges? As a detective where are these coming from? Few solutions, have you fully gained the commitment to change? Most prospects don’t like change and they need to know the full path to implementation. How will we work together, what resources will you provide, what are  the expectations from our end? When this is not clear, the devil they know wins. Again, launch of an objection grenade.

But hang on, what if this is a real objection, around one of the aforementioned areas? Our role is to understand where this is coming from. What is the question or objection behind the objection? Why are they so reluctant to move forward? What is the response to this question going to allow them to do or not to do? Approach the situation  from their lens, understand their business, their goals and remove emotion. states, the best way to handle an objection is by asking questions.

Asking clarifying questions, breaking apart extremes, always, never, there are exceptions. We don't live in a world of opposites. Uncover the backstory behind their objection, where is their grip tightening, why? Did they have a past experience that didn’t meet their needs, did a project recently fail and they are reluctant to hire another consultant? Did the last solution they purchased not fully do what they expected? They unfortunately  bring those experiences and in some cases biases into our encounter. Our job is to see what is relevant to this deal and what is extraneous information from past deals that we need to break down and remove, it is clouding their decision.

Author of Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss’ techniques of mirroring and labeling are great to use here to really get our prospect talking in a non-threatening way. Invite them to share what happened that is shaping their thoughts and ultimately objections through mirroring and labeling. Mirroring is repeating the last 1-3 words your prospect says in an upward tone that invites them to keep sharing, it is mimicking the line, tell me more. Some use words in the middle of their sentence to demonstrate to their audience they were listening and are focused on solving their issue.

We don’t have the budget for this project, You can respond in an upward manner with “budget?”Yes, our last project took up an additional 30% and we must push this off to Q4.“Q4”?” Yes, we have 2 other projects that are paramount to our next round of funding, we need to complete them first.

The plot thickens, you can start seething a clear picture of what is behind the words or objections they are sharing. There still may be an opportunity here, it opens things up to give you a starting point or at the very least, it allows you to understand their landscape and perhaps this project is pushed to Q4. Now that you see things, you can nurture the account, keep in contact with them from the side, knowing what they have on the go throughout the year.

What about labeling? After mirroring and getting them speaking, we can summarize, make an assumption of what you are hearing. The beauty of labeling is you are not concretely saying this is what it is, you are merely indicating it sounds like…. You may very well have mislabeled, but this technique invites your prospect to fill in the blanks, correct you and add more detail in a not threatening way.

“Sounds like you didn’t have a great past experience with your last solution provider?”

“Sounds like you are hesitant to move forward.”

“Seems like you are giving this a lot of thought?”

It is a pattern interrupt as it doesn’t come in the form of a typical question. We are only labeling what we hear, we may not be correct but what it does, it invites our audience to fill in the blanks, correct us and provide more details as to what really is going on.

This approach is very fluid and an extension of the conversation vs an interrogation. Sometimes our back goes up and we can get defensive, mirroring and labeling invites us to come at it from a place of empathy. We are trying to imagine what it was like for them dealing with their past experience, the impact it had on them, their team, organization. This exercise allows our prospect to feel heard and let some of the pain and perhaps shame of the past go. This is a place of  transition, they can now start letting go of their past experience and evaluate yours through a clear lens.When this is not done, your solution is an extension of the last one and they see no difference.

In summary, our role is to unpack and understand why these objections are coming up and if in fact they are true.

One thing to consider, what would you rather have, someone throwing objections that you can dig deeper, lean into our curiosity, ask questions or our prospect say nothing?

Objections are a positive sign, they need more information or you need more information to see where they are coming from. What have they not let go up from a past similar situation that is preventing them from seeing the value in yours?How can you paint a picture in their eyes, tell them a story where they see themselves as the character?

How will you get in front of your objections, lead with transparency or mid-way address them with questions layered with mirroring and labeling to show your empathetic side?

About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

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