Our brand new iOS app TradeGecko for Sales is designed to make B2B sales easier. But sometimes, closing a deal comes down to knowing how to handle last minute objections. Few people know more about closing a B2B sale than Steli Efti, CEO at Close.io. He's here with a guest post today on how to turn objections into sales.
And it seemed like it was going so well…
We’ve all been there: Talking with a prospect who seems genuinely interested in your solution. You’re excited, they’re excited, and the timing feels right. You go for the close.
Then you hear it: The objection.
Choose your next couple sentences carefully; how you respond will dictate the future of this deal. Here are three of the most common objections you’ll face, and how you can use them to close more deals.
You know they can afford it. If they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be in business. So what’s the deal?
The mistake most reps make is assuming price objections are actually about price. Truth is, prospects often use price as a scapegoat for their real concerns, like:
When you run into the pricing objection, counter it with qualifying questions to find out what’s actually going on. For example:
Prospect: Your product is out of our budget.
You: I understand, but I’m curious: Do you think our product is a good fit for your company?
Prospect: Sure, but it just isn’t realistic right now.
You: Are you using a product like ours?
Prospect: No, not currently.
You: Just between you and me… Is there anything preventing you from buying other than price?
Prospect: No, we’re interested; just can’t afford it.
You: Okay, so what price would it take for you to buy today?
Prospect: We could probably do $5,000.
You: So if I could sell our product for $5,000, you’d buy right away?
If they say yes, then pricing was their primary concern. But often, they’ll respond with something like...
If your prospect tells you that your product isn’t a priority, one of two things happened:
1. You pitched your product before qualifying your prospect.
You can’t sell a solution if you don’t understand the problem and you clearly don’t know their priorities. Find out what they are! For example:
You: I’m sorry, I obviously don’t understand your situation enough, and that’s my fault. Can we start over? What would you say your biggest challenge is right now?
Prospect: We’re mostly focused on creating a predictable and scalable sales model.
You: And here I was telling you about how our product helps you reach more customers! I apologize for misunderstanding. So what’s really important to you is building an effective sales model?
Now that you understand the problem, you can pitch an appropriate solution. But that isn’t always enough, because …
2. Your prospect still isn’t being honest
Sometimes you’ll deliver a killer pitch explaining exactly how your solution solves their biggest challenges, and it still won't be a priority.
If that’s the case, there’s a good chance they're masking their real concerns. When that happens, be upfront and ask for what you need. For example:
You: I’m really struggling here. You told me that your main priority is creating a scalable sales model and I thought I demonstrated how our inside sales software could help you accomplish that, but I’m clearly failing you somehow. Did I miss something? Why isn’t this a priority right now?
Sometimes that little push is all it takes to uncover their deeper concerns.
Prospect: You’re right, it is important. We need to build that sales model, but we’ve been burned by early-stage startup products in the past. Your product looks great, but the technology is too new to trust.
You: That makes sense. You’re thinking long-term, and want software that can reliably grow with your company. The flipside is that our competitors will slow you down in the short-term. Their software is great for late-stage businesses, but it wasn’t built for the agile environment of a startup.
Prospect: Yeah, but we need to think long-term
You: But you need a plan to get there, and we can help with that. What if you could speed up your immediate growth while also being able to scale in the future?
Prospect: That’d be great, but I don’t see how.
You: One of our customers recently found a solution: They use both. They get the speed and flexibility of our software, and the adaptability of our competitor’s. Even though they pay for both solutions, the productivity gains outweigh the operating costs.
Prospect: That sounds like a creative solution, but I’m still not sure that we’d be a good fit.
You: I’ll tell you what … We’ve got a free trial. Normally it’s seven days, but I’ll bump it to fourteen so you can really see our CRM in action. I think that’s more than enough time for you to give it a try and start building that sales model. Sound good?”
The priority objection is always the result of a misunderstanding: Either you’re misunderstanding your prospect’s situation, or they’re misunderstanding the value your product provides.
Either way, it’s your responsibility to turn that misunderstanding into understanding.
Fourteen days later, your prospect’s free trial is ending. You’ve checked in a couple times and know they’ve been incredibly successful with your product, so you reach out to close the deal.
Your potential customer responds, “We’ll buy soon,” but you know if it were a done deal, they’d be buying today.
The more time passes after their trial, the less likely they’ll be to follow through. Use the virtual close to identify where they are in the buying process, and how you can move them toward commitment. For example:
Prospect: We’ll buy soon.
You: Great! Just to make sure… Between now and then, is there anything that could stop this deal from happening?
Prospect: No, everything is on track.
You: Perfect, let’s take a moment and talk about the sales cycle, then. What needs to happen next for this deal to close?
Prospect: I’ve got to talk to my manager and get his input.
You: Makes sense. And when do you think that meeting will happen?
Prospect: We have weekly meetings on Wednesday; I’ll talk to him then.
You: Awesome. Assuming your manager loves the product as much as you do, what happens next?
Prospect: We’ll schedule a call with you and our stakeholders to go over any additional questions.
You: Sure, that makes sense. And assuming the call goes well? Then what?
Prospect: Then we have to run everything by our security and IT departments.
You get the idea. Continue to walk your prospect through their sales cycle until they say, “And then we’re in business.”
This approach gives you a clear picture of what to expect and helps avoid unnecessary surprises. Now that you know what needs to happen next, you can walk your prospect through each step and expedite the sales process.
These are three of the most common objections you’ll face, but they’re not the only ones. Prepare for future objections with an objection management document.
This document is a list of the 25 most common objections you face in your market, along with a 1-3 sentence response for each one. Memorizing your responses in advance frees up your mind to focus on delivery rather than content.
If you ever feel discouraged, remember that objections are not rejections. They just mean, “You have not provided enough value to my situation yet.”
Anyone can close an easy deal, but it takes a salesperson to turn objections into conversations, and conversations into conversions.
Steli Efti is the co-founder and CEO at Close.io, an inside sales CRM for startups and SMBs that helps to minimize manual data entry and close more deals.