Responding to Objections Can Be Mastered In 4 Steps

responding to objections

Responding to objections is a challenge for sellers, according to recent research by SalesFuel. The Voice of the Sales Rep study found that “handling objections” is one of reps’ biggest selling weaknesses. This doesn’t bode well for sales professionals. Handling objections is a vital aspect of moving a deal forward and getting prospects to buy in to your solution. 

Shift your mindset when responding to objections

Salespeople hate objections and see them as an uphill battle to win a sale. But a subtle shift in thinking can make facing, and overcoming them, easier. Instead, consider objections in a different light and view them as opportunities. 

A sales objection is an explicit expression by a buyer that a barrier exists between the current situation and what needs to be satisfied before buying from you,” Mike Schultz writes for Rain Today. “In other words, it's a clear signal that you have more work to do in the selling process.”

Four steps to overcoming objections

Schultz explains a process that involves four steps that can help sellers tackle common objections. Typically, all buyer objections are fueled by a perceived lack of at least one of the following:

  • Need
  • Urgency
  • Trust
  • Money

He notes that it’s up to sellers to use objections as an opportunity to fill in any gaps in their value proposition. And the first step may very well be the most important. 

Listening is the very first action to take when responding to objections. Only by giving the prospect your full attention can you hope to ever address their concerns. While it’s natural to get defensive or want to respond immediately when a prospect raises an issue, practice self restraint. Don’t let your negative emotions get in the way of hearing what the prospect has to say. Practice active listening skills, which not only help you listen efficiently but also demonstrate to the prospect that you’re listening intently. 

Understand the objection

If you don’t fully grasp the concerns raised by a prospect, how can you expect to overcome them? “Many objections hide underlying issues that the buyer can't or isn't ready to articulate,” Schultz explains. “Often the true issue isn't what the buyer first tells you. It's your job to get to the heart of the objection—to fully understand it and its true source. To do this, ask permission from the buyer to understand and explore the issue. From there, restate the concern as you understand it.”

Jeffrey Gitomer agrees. In a post for SalesFuel, he writes, “Qualifying the objection and overcoming the objection are of equal importance. Finding the real objection is the first order of business. Then (and only then) is successfully overcoming it and making a sale possible. You can overcome an objection perfectly, but if it isn’t the real objection, you’ll be shaking your head wondering why the sale hasn’t been made. When you get an objection, you must qualify that it is true and the only one.”

This is where asking quality questions can really help when responding to objections. Ask open-​ended questions that encourage the buyer to go a bit deeper. You can also use questions to guide buyers who may have trouble articulating their true concerns. Check out our past advice on crafting quality questions, including questions that focus on need and layering questions.

Respond properly and confirm

These final steps of Schultz’s strategy put the knowledge you’ve gained into action. Come up with a thoughtful, relevant response to all concerns they’ve shared.

And once you’ve presented your official response, be sure to confirm that it actually addresses the prospect’s objection. As Schultz suggests, “Ask if the buyer is happy with your solution and explain your solution further if necessary. Sometimes you need to go through a process to overcome sales objections, rather than a quick answer or a‑ha moment.”

Be sure to be completely transparent about your plan. If you need more time to consult with others, be honest about the timeframe.

Responding to, and overcoming, objections doesn’t have to be a weakness. Putting this simple four-​step plan into practice makes it easier to confront the most common objections–and defeat them. You’ll also strengthen your relationship with the buyer along the way, which creates even more incentive for them to make a deal happen. So the next time you face an objection, reframe it as an opportunity, and put this plan into action.

Photo by SHVETS production

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica reports on sales tips and credibility for SalesFuel. She is a graduate of Ohio University.