Almost every prospect you speak to has objections, or reasons they’re hesitant to buy your product. Why are sales objections unavoidable?
Because if the buyer didn’t have reservations about your solution’s price, value, relevance to their situation, or their purchasing ability, they would have already bought it.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- Why objections are predictable and how to plan for them
- Where objections come from
- How to address objections
- Some tools and tips for having better money conversations
It’s rare that sales are made without any objections from prospects. You’ll encounter hurdles that you need to overcome, and it’s best to be intentional about it and have a plan in place.
People want to feel good about their purchases, whether business or personal. They want to be sure they made the right decision. Sometimes an objection is really the prospect saying, “Tell me why I won’t regret buying from you.”
The key is understanding what is stopping a potential client from making a decision. Whatever is on your client’s mind, you’ll be able to have a conversation about it once you understand.
Objections are an inevitable part of sales. Some are legitimate reasons to disqualify, while others are simply an attempt to brush you off. But as long as you’re familiar with common objections and equipped to answer them, you’ll be able to distinguish between prospects who have the potential to be good customers and prospects with whom you need to part ways.
Mentioned In This Episode:
For more information on remote selling and a complete list of links mentioned in this podcast, visit this remote selling article on our website.
Addressing Objections and Talking Money:
What is your first memory of money? I’ll give you a second to think about it and now what do you think about money today? I bet that whatever it is, it’s loaded with emotion and complexity. You feel all sorts of ways about money. For me, money means security. It’s a way to stay safe, to have shelter, to provide the basics I need in life, but for others, money might mean power or health or happiness. There’s a funny thing about money. If you make too little, yes, you tend to be unhappier, but many of us think that wealth will give us happiness and it’s just not the case. In a 2010 study, it was shown that people making less than $75,000 were more likely to be unhappy, but the more you made over $75,000 didn’t matter. You were just as happy if you made $80,000 a year as if you made $8 million a year. Now, probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that money is a leading cause of divorce. 40% of divorces are caused by one spouse’s handling of money.
Of course, money is a loaded subject, but we can learn three things from this quick exercise. Number one, if I asked you how you felt about money, your answer is relatively predictable. I don’t know exactly what you will say, but I can make a few informed guesses. Number two, money is an emotionally charged subject. It is in your personal life and it’s also emotionally charged in your work life too. And number three, if we are to talk about money, we won’t soon change someone’s mind about it, but we can better understand them and they can better understand us. 40% of marriages end because of money, but then again, 60% don’t. Even though money causes stress for all of us, no matter how much we have, how we engage in those money conversations is crucial. In today’s episode, I’ll be discussing how you can engage your clients when they have objections and give you some tips on how to talk about money more effectively.
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics and sales studies to help you create win-win relationships. I’m your host Liston Witherill and I’m pleased to welcome you to modern sales.
Hey there, it’s Liston Witherill from Modern Sales and this is episode number seven in the SDS training series of podcasts where I’m reviewing the core topics and ideas you’d get in my sales training. If you’d like to start from the top, go back in your podcast feed and find the episode titled the Sales Process You Need to Win Big Clients and you can hear the overview and start sequentially in the series. You can also visit the tool section of my website at liston.io where you can get access to all the past SDS training episodes in the series laid out on a single page for you. I also have some big news, I’m writing a book, I’m planning to release it in January of 2020 but I just finished my manuscript. It is 50,000 words long and I’m really, really excited.
The name of the book is you may have guessed, Serve, Don’t Sell, and I’m writing it to help you sell more services. You can get early updates, releases of the draft manuscript and special bonuses by visiting liston.io/book to sign up for emails from me specifically about that book. And finally, if you’d like to receive sales insights sent to your inbox weekly, be sure to sign up for the Serve, Don’t Sell newsletter, which is painfully obvious and easy to do on that very same website, liston.io.
Now, let’s talk about objections and money. The first thing we need to address is where objections come from. Now, if you search for how to address objections online, you’ll see things like squashing objections, destroying objections, overcoming objections, basically pitting you in a death struggle against your client. But I am here to tell you that objections come from a completely different place. Your client isn’t trying to give you bad news. In fact, the reason you’re hearing an objection is a good thing. It means that your client is considering working with you. When you hear an objection, your client is simply trying to understand a rational basis for why they should work with you. In my view, that’s a really good thing and whenever you hear a negative an objection, we call them a reason that it may not work out. By definition, it’s because they’re thinking of reasons why it would work out, so don’t try to squash the objection. Instead, aim to learn about it.
What does the objection really mean? If someone tells you that your price is too high, I want to know is this really about the price or is it about how they might perceive their boss interprets the price, which is a different thing entirely. Or is it a budget constraint that they have this quarter or whatever? What is it? Tell me what’s really going on. Now, if you’re interested in learning more about how you might be able to change a stubborn person’s mind, you can check out a past podcast episode I did call Can You Change a Stubborn Person’s Mind for more on that topic? It’s linked in the show notes so you can go click that and listen if you like.
Back to objections. One thing you should know about objections is that they are totally and completely predictable. A lot of us like to say that every sale is different and I guess it is in the sense that every snowflake is different. But at the same time, you also know what snowflakes are and we also know that there are certain patterns of snowflakes that we see recur over and over and over again. Objections are exactly the same. If you hear a money budget or price objection, you pretty much know what’s going to be behind it. You pretty much know how you might respond. You pretty much know what might be on your client’s mind if they have that objection.
A few other objections you might hear on a regular basis is your client is looking for a different scope or a different set of features may be more or less or a different package than you’ve presented. They may want different timing of your project. They may not understand exactly what you’ve presented to them. They may say this and I hear this from time to time. How do I know you’ll understand my business? You should be able to answer that and of course, you’ll hear I need more information quite regularly.
There’s a long list of other objections you might hear, but generally, I would say for most people, the objections you hear from your clients will fall into around three to five categories. And you should be prepared to hear those categories and you should be prepared to address each. You should have, not a script, but some talking points, some idea of what you’re going to say when it comes up again. Because if in the moment you are caught off guard by say a price objection that my friend is your fault. You should have known that, that might come up. How you respond to it, of course, is part of the art of being in the moment. But there’s also a little bit of the science and a little bit of the planning because you can reliably predict what those objections might be, particularly around price and budget. So you’ll need a plan for how to tackle that, which should be built into your overall sales process.
Now, no matter what objection you’re going to hear and you will hear quite a few, I have a way for you to address objections, and I’m going to walk you through it right now. I’m going to go through in extreme detail first and then I will wrap up with an overview, which I will also give you right now. So the overview is don’t defend, listen to what your client has to say, isolate the objection and then reframe it. So don’t defend, listen, isolate, and reframe.
So starting with don’t defend. When you hear an objection, especially one that may bring into question your self worth or your aptitude, you’ll be inclined to defend yourself. What happens when you defend yourself? Well, you’ll be on defense and if you’re on defense, your client is on offense. Now, you’re competing against each other. And that is exactly the opposite relationship that we want with our clients. We don’t want to be on separate teams, we want to be on the same team. So the first thing I want you to do is never, ever, ever defend.
Because when you defend, you sound defensive and then your client will want to justify why they said what they said, and now it’s about proving who’s right or wrong. That is the wrong relationship to being so you’re not going to defend. One thing you can do to help yourself in those moments because I know, chalk this up as advice. That’s much easier said than done. Trust me, I know. I’ve been defensive in conversations before. It’s totally normal and human. One thing you can do to prevent yourself from being defensive is to just pause. Take a moment to let your client’s words sink in, understanding them and not reacting to the first emotion that comes to mind.
It’s okay to insert a slightly awkward pause and it’s going to feel more awkward to you then to them, but it’s okay to insert that pause so that you have time to digest what they said. Gather yourself, not defend it, and instead move towards it. We want to know more about what our client means when they say, “I don’t have the budget for this right now.” So now let’s say you get a budget objection. I’m going to demonstrate for you a three-second pause after your client doesn’t have the budget. Your client would say, “We don’t have the budget right now.”
There’s your pause. Three seconds, not a big deal. You could do that, and I’ll just point out you survived that pause. I survived that pause. If you’re hearing what I’m saying right now, you’re still listening. It’s okay. It’s okay to have a little bit of silence in conversation. So if our client says, “I don’t have the budget right now.” The way I would come back is to mirror repeat what I heard from my client in an attempt to get them to elaborate on what they said. So I would just say, “Oh, you don’t have the budget.”
Now, instead of defending how valuable my product is, what I’m trying to do is draw out from them more information about their perceptions of their budget constraints. Do they know what’s in the budget? Do they know how it’s being allocated? Do they know how much flexibility there is? Do they just not have decision making authority over it? Whatever it is, I need to know what’s going on. I need to know what’s actually behind that objection. And that’s why I’m trying to draw more information out of them. And so when I do that, the next thing I want to do is listen. When they begin to elaborate on what they said, I’m going to listen patiently until they’re finished talking and not interrupt. You will get bonus points for leaving alone awkward pause after you’re listening because what you want to do is leave space for them to finish saying everything that they want to say.
We want to leave enough space and you can even consider it area within the conversation for them to occupy. Because in this moment, listening is the critical thing. Talking isn’t the critical thing for us, us the seller, right? So we’re going to listen to them. Now when they finish talking, the next thing I’m going to do is rephrase. I’m going to paraphrase what my client said and ask them to confirm that I understood what they said correctly. So the way that might sound is, so I understand you have some budget constraints right now. You’ve exhausted 80% of your budget for this quarter and you’re not going to have enough budget until Q4 of 2019. And they can either say, “Yes, you totally got it,” or “No, actually there’s one correction I want to make to that.”
The reason I’m rephrasing of course is I want to make sure we’re operating off of the same information. I want to understand correctly before I can move forward and respond. Now, let’s say we understand correctly, our client confirms it. Now, what I want to know is, is this the real objection or is this just something that’s a little bit easier for them to say to me? But there’s something else at work that we haven’t covered yet. And that’s why I recommend the large step of isolating meaning I want to know is this the actual objection or is there more to it or something else completely that we should be talking about?
And the way to isolate is to use a simple little statement and the statement is let’s pretend. If you say, let’s pretend it will help you determine if their stated objection is the main thing on their mind or if there’s something else that we need to discuss too. So on the budget objection example, the way that would sound is, let’s pretend for a second you don’t have any budget constraints, you haven’t spent down 80%. I know that, that’s not a real thing. We can’t just ignore that. But let’s pretend for a second you had the budget for this.
If you had the budget and we could deliver it a price that was totally within the budget, would you be willing to move forward right now? Okay. I know that that is a very direct thing to say and it may make you slightly uncomfortable. I can do that to people. I apologize if I just made you uncomfortable. But what I want to find out and I think is fair game in these conversations is what is the truth here? Is it really about budget or is it something else? And if it’s something else, can we just talk about that? This isn’t about winning and losing. This is about two people who are going to invest time and energy and money and organizational goals and all kinds of other things.
It’s actually way more than two people, but we both have significant investment in this. If we can’t have an honest and frank conversation about the backdrop to this engagement that we’re talking about, why in the hell should we do business together? That’s my thinking behind isolate because serve don’t sell, right? In order to properly serve them, I need to make sure this fits into all of the other requirements and things that they have going on and that’s why I’m isolating. And so let’s say I use my let’s pretend statement, I isolate, it is the budget. The next thing I want to do is reframe. Meaning, I want to reframe the negative into a positive, telling them how I’ve solved the problem in the past, giving them some options for approaching it, and I’d offered to make some suggestions about how we could apply different ways of addressing their legitimate objection to this situation.
The important thing about reframing is we’re going to take a problem that our client has the budget and we’re going to show them, yes, you’re smart for bringing this up and yes, this is something we need to address. Here’s some options for how we might address it. Because you’ve been in a position to sell your services before and you’ve seen clients have these same objections before. It’s your job now to apply your expertise and help your client navigate the sales process. You’ve done this before. Serve them by showing them how this could happen. That’s what I want you to do.
So just to recap and I’ll do it again at the end because I know this is so in-depth, especially for an audio format, but number one, don’t defend yourself. Number two, we’re going to draw more information out by listening and mirroring what our clients say. Number three, I’m going to isolate using a let’s pretend statement. And then if I have isolated the objection, I’m going to reframe that objection into the positive, into a solution rather than a problem.
Now, let’s talk about talking money in particular. In all of the people I’ve worked with, I see routinely that money is a difficult issue to talk about. Now, you may think of yourself as having two separate lives. One is your work life and the other is your personal life. And when you’re working with your personal money or thinking about your personal money or talking about your personal money, it may be far more difficult than the way you think about money at work. And that’s true. We play different roles in our lives and those roles give us different perceptions of ourselves and other people. That’s cool and that’s definitely true. But whatever your deep emotions are about money, some of that will bleed through into your work life, I promise.
And for some of us, it’s going to be more than for others. But the truth is money is just a fact of business. Now, whatever it is that you’re selling, your clients expect to pay money for it. A business that does something for the fun of it is called a hobby. And a business that does something for the social good and not for profit is called, yes you guessed it, a nonprofit. But a business by definition must make money. And our clients know that and there’s nothing wrong with it. And in fact, I’d go a step farther and say that money is a love language of business. Perhaps the love language of business, meaning you only get money from your clients if they believe you can help them. And especially you will only get a subsequent contract, i.e. more money from a client if you did help them the first time.
And look, you do the same thing. You only spend money on things that you think will have a return. That’s beyond the financial return to we spend on irrational things all the time. So there’s sort of this funny double standard we may apply to our clients that isn’t always true for us. We think there needs to be this hyper-rational reason for people to buy anything from us. And some of us even think that we need to see the same value that our clients see in our products and services, and I’m here to tell you that doesn’t really matter. Now, it helps. It certainly helps if you totally believe in what you’re selling. There’s no doubt about that. That will help you tremendously and it’ll help your client. It’ll give them a sense of confidence that you can emanate.
But the big bottom line here is all that really matters is how your clients perceive what it is that you’re selling. And so if they want to buy it, that is the love language of business. It shows they’re allocating their money, their capital, their time, their resources to you, and so there’s something there for them.
Now, I’ve talked a little bit about mindset, about talking about money in this episode, but now I want to give you some practical tips that you can really just go ahead and implement right away. It may be slightly uncomfortable, but there’s nothing stopping you from putting these into practice. So let’s make this really, really practical and actionable.
When you talk about money, the core thing I want you to think about is to be absolutely matter of fact about it. When someone asks, “What’s it going to cost to work with you? However, you answer that, whether you have a firm set price, whether you have a range, whether you give them an upper limit, whatever it is that you decide to do, just give them the amount and then be quiet. Don’t say anything else. So, the first thing there is don’t rationalize the price. The way that sounds typically is someone will ask you, or let’s say they’ll ask me just to make this concrete, “How much is your sales training onsite?” And I say “My sales training onsite is $15,000 and I’ve worked with companies X, Y, and Z, and they get amazing results and they filled their pipeline and everybody closes at two times the rate that they did before the training.” They got so much value out of it.
Now, that starts to sound a little bit defensive. I also believe that you should have established the value of whatever you’re selling long before you get to the price conversation. Price is important of course, but the context for the price, go back and listen to the value episode if you haven’t already. Establishing the value is crucial so that when you get to the price it sounds relatively small and insignificant in relation to the value, the potential upside that your client is going to get from working with you.
So number one, don’t rationalize your price. Also, say it directly and confidently, state the price and then be quiet. My onsite training is $15,000. I’m waiting for my client to respond. Now, it’s their turn to say something. I’m not here to defend. I’m here to tell them I’ve already established what they get out of it, what their specific problems are, how it will contribute to their organizational goals. All of that should have been established already. So there’s no need for me to say anything else. And you always want to say your price without hesitation. When you say it confidently and when you say it without hesitation and you don’t defend yourself, what you’re doing is you’re communicating through the subtext of that conversation that you know you’re worth it. You’re confident in what you’re doing and you believe that the client would get something out of working with you. It would be a no brainer for them to do this.
It’s much more effective to say it’s a no brainer without saying it’s a no brainer. So saying things confidently, saying things without hesitation. That’s what I want you to do. Now, if you have trouble doing that, no worries. There are two things you can do. One is start to change your mindset, which I recommend you start to think about what does money mean to me? Why am I hesitating? Do I really believe in what I’m selling? That’s a big one. Why or why not? But the other thing you can do is just practice. Pretend you’re an actor and as an actor, you have to know your lines. You have to know what you’re going to say. You have to know the intonation of how you’re going to say it. You have to know what the look on your face will be when you say it. You have to understand what your body language will be. All of those things you can practice.
Now, I’m not advocating that you lie to anybody. If you’re selling something you absolutely don’t believe in, maybe it’s time to look for a new job. Maybe it’s time to sell something different, something that you do believe in. But if there’s some mental baggage there, something holding you back from having this conversation just practice having this conversation. The more you say big numbers, the more you ask your clients for business, the easier it becomes as you do it and even though it may not seem like it, doing that in the mirror or with a colleague or even by yourself in your office actually does make it easier to continue to say it confidently in the future.
Now, if you have some little mindset things about money that you want to work out, it’s hard for you. It’s stressful for you. You really hesitate talking about it. I have an exercise on my website that’s an essay you can write about what money means to you. The exercise includes a few prompts that you can go through in order to help clarify for yourself what money means to you. What were some of your first experiences with it? How do you think about it in terms of business versus personal life, the specific feelings that come up, what you’re afraid of, all that stuff. It’s an exercise on my website. All you have to do is go to liston.io/tools and find it on that tools page where all of my free stuff lives.
So the key takeaways for this episode, number one, objections are predictable typically falling into a narrow group of categories that you can prepare for. Addressing objections starts with your posture. Don’t be defensive. Be open to listening to what your client has to say. Just listen carefully. Your goal is to truly understand, and many of the initial objections that your clients have are masking what your client is actually thinking and feeling. So isolate the objections you hear to determine the real reasons for your client’s resistance.
When you’re looking for more information, use the phrase, tell me more. So your client elaborates on what they’re thinking. And so you don’t accidentally assume something that’s not true and you don’t accidentally spend a bunch of time addressing something that isn’t the real cause of your client’s resistance. In order to isolate your client’s objection, use the phrase, let’s pretend and see if there’s something else on their mind before you directly address their objection. When you do directly address their objection, reframe your client’s objections in the positive. Give examples of past client work you’ve done to illustrate how you can help them and alleviate some of their concerns, turning their problem into a solution.
And finally, yes, money is perhaps the most complicated topic in business, and maybe even the most complicated topic in all of the world. It touches so many parts of our lives. So get clear on your personal feelings about money so you can raise your awareness of the baggage you bring to critical sales conversations and critical sales moments and eventually leave all that baggage at home.
Next up in episode eight of the SDS training series, we’ll talk specifically about negotiating price and a little spoiler for you. The key to negotiating price is not to negotiate price, but I’ll tell you all about that next time. If you aren’t already subscribed, please do so. Subscribe to this podcast, Modern Sales by clicking the subscribe button. And if you’re so inclined, there are two things you can do to help support this podcast. Number one, leave a review in iTunes and number two, tell someone else about it in email on social media or however you’d like to spread the word. I would greatly appreciate it.
And finally, if you’re looking for help training your sales team to sell more to big companies and have more productive conversations that deliver both sales and world-class service, I can help you with both remote and onsite training options. Just head over to liston.io. Click the sales training button. You can learn a little bit more about how it works, or you can go to the contact page, fill out a quick form, and begin the conversation with me directly. Thank you so much for listening. I’m Liston Witherill of Serve, Don’t Sell, and I hope you have a fantastic day.
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