How to deal with objections in IT sales.
Hi, my name is Angelina Chereshniuk, and I'm currently actively working in the sales team at AnyBiz. We face objections at different stages of sales: finding a client, setting up first meetings, first demos, negotiations, closing a deal, and, of course, from paying customers as well. In this article, we'll talk about the real reasons for customer refusals and how to work with them. Moreover, we will talk about general principles and techniques for handling objections.
Why do customers say no?
Everyone involved in sales has heard these phrases many times:
No, thank you.
It's not a good time.
Send me the presentation.
I don't even know... I want to discuss it with someone from my team.
I need to talk to my boss.
We're already using another solution, we're fine.
Write to me in a month, six months, a year.
If you look deeper into the problem, objections are a visible sign that you failed to properly show the value of your offer to the client. So, something is going wrong in your communication with the client or in the sales cycle. Of course, it could also be some internal problem in the client's company, in their decision-making chain, which you are not aware of.
How to continue the dialog after an objection?
A successful sale occurs when you've identified your client's real problem, found a really appropriate solution, and communicated it correctly. And, of course, this process doesn't always look so simple and linear. You will face objections at any time. But we believe that objections are a great chance, even at an early stage, to establish contact with the client and better understand their business. So here are some tips.
1. Express understanding.
Not all salespeople are able to work with objections, not just on the level of "ignoring" or convincing," but by understanding the problem and working on a solution. Always express understanding and try to figure out what your interlocutor feels and needs. Denial and the attitude that you know better will only cause rejection from the other person.
It is very important for a salesperson to be a bit of an analyst to understand the client's business problem and show a good solution that can solve it.
2. Don't deny the customer's arguments.
If a customer says your product is expensive, agree with them. Don't rush to prove that the product is cheaper than your competitors'. Show empathy: tell the customer that you understand their opinion, that your product is indeed more expensive than your competitors, and that there is a reason for that. After all, by using your solution, the client will save on specific points. When the person feels that you agree, you can continue the dialog and tell them more about the benefits of the product.
3. Don't ask "Why?"
If a customer doesn't understand how your product works or says it's too expensive for them, don't ask, "Why?". Clarify the reason by using the display technique. How it works. For example, a person might say that this purchase is not a priority for them. You simply repeat his words with a clarifying tone: "You mean this purchase is not a priority for you at the moment?"
Most often, the person will begin to answer their own question in more detail, and you will learn a little more about the real reasons for the refusal.
4. Don't prove it.
Consider objections not as the beginning of an argument but as an opportunity to show that you have a good product and are worth working with. When you are told that your product has a significant disadvantage that really prevents a customer from making a purchase, take it as a chance to improve the product. You can involve the team, look at the technical indicators, and decide together whether the request really covers the client's business need or is something from the category of "wants." Then, the task of the manager and the team will be to turn the minus into a plus or understand what you can give the client based on your resources.
5. Involve the team.
Especially if you have received objections at the stage of negotiations with clients. For example, one of my companies had a rather complicated product. To close the deal and show the client the value, we had to really understand not just the technical requirements but the client's business logic to understand how well we could fit in technically.
Very often, we get objections from the business side, and they seem to be something technical. On our weekly calls, we voice the problem, and then the engineers and customer success manager can suggest a great solution. So, if you know you can help a client, involve the whole team and look for a solution together.
6. Don't be silent.
Show friendly interest, ask questions, listen, and show more empathy. Statistics show that managers who pause and ask questions after an objection are more successful in negotiations. The more questions you ask, the more chances you have to find out about the real need and "close the customer."
And, of course, don't send a lead to "Lost" as soon as you hear "no". One of our best deals grew out of the "no" we received at the very beginning of the conversation. The main thing is how you handle it 🙂.
7. Don't fight the objection.
Use clarifying questions and the "reflection" technique to determine the reason for the refusal and work with it. This is the essence of good sales - to identify the most important problem for the client, explain why they are actually saying no to you, and offer a solution.
Act in the client's favor at all stages of the transaction. In sales, it's important to keep the focus on the client, not on yourself. When you have a strong desire to say that we are the best and have been on the market for so many years, stop. What matters to the client is not how you praise yourself, but how your product will solve their problem.
Turning problems into opportunities.
It is convenient to process objections according to a certain scheme. When you receive a refusal, whether in correspondence, during negotiations, or during a call, do not ignore it.
Redirect the objection to the client in the form of a clarifying question: give them the opportunity and "space" to explain why the other person is against it. Of course, it's easier to show empathy when negotiations take place online, over the phone, or in person; there are more chances for a dialog. By asking the right questions and showing understanding, the manager brings the client to the stage of open conversations.
Next, find out whether the problem and the reason for the objection voiced by the client is real. Is it really about money, time, etc.? Remember that your goal is to understand the client's real problem, the real reason for the refusal.
When the problem is found, you can take control of the conversation and move it in the right direction: show the customer how to solve their problem with your product.
When you understand the customer and their real problems, you can control the conversation and turn the customer's objections into opportunities. Organically, through values, turn cons into pros and show the client that your product and your offer are an opportunity to solve their problem.
I'll give you an example of how to turn a "bad time" into an ideal one:
A client may say, "Now is not the right time to implement your solution. You know, the COVID-19 lockdown and the end of the year. We just need to close the quarter or year so as not to waste time and money."
If you agree with this objection, then, with a probability of 95%, you will not hear anything from this client for a year or two.
What to do here. Tell them that your other clients implemented your system at such a critical period, during the pandemic and at the end of the quarter, and it helped them better prepare for the next year and brought some profit and ROI.
Let's look at a few more examples of typical objections and what the real reasons might be.
It's too expensive.
In response to such an objection, don't get angry or give up, but clarify the reason in a gentle and clear manner. Be sincere and agree:
- Yes, our product is quite expensive. How did you realize that ours is expensive? What do you compare it to?
You don't ask:
- "Why do you think it's expensive?" because this formulation sounds like a claim.
What could be the real problem?
The client is not confident enough in the value of your product and does not understand why he needs it. We all know that if a person really needs something, they will buy it at any price.
Business indicators and payback should be your guides when it comes to complex technological solutions.
You can ask the client a simple question:
- Okay, if the price was not a problem, what would stop you from signing the contract?
The client can answer:
- Not really; I would sign it today.
Then work it out with the finance department and get a discount.
And if the client says that the problem is not only the price, offer to prove the value, articulate it again, use your technical resources and your team, and show the client why the product will solve their problem.
You tell a client about a super solution and how you can help, and the response is that it's "too soon." Here again, you need to show empathy and clarify the reason. For example, let's say it turns out that the client is not sure that the solution is needed and will deliver results right now.
Then you should engage in a dialog and find out about the performance indicators for this particular client. Don't prove that you can solve the problem - show how you have done it for others through examples and demonstrate the benefits of the product right now, not after some time.
Send a presentation.
Most often, the problem here is not that there is not enough information, it is unclear, and the client wants to read more, but that you have not shown value and the interlocutor has not understood how you can help him.
Another reason for this objection is that the person you talked to after the presentation is not involved in the decision-making process, so it's not an ODA. Therefore, you need to clarify empathetically and carefully:
- Why do you need a presentation? What would you like to see in it?
And this question is often answered:
- You know, I would just like to show my boss because I don't quite understand what you are offering me.
So find out who will make the decision and build communication with this person. Or otherwise, show the value of the product if the buyer didn't really understand it at first.
We are already working with someone.
When customers respond to your offer by saying that they already work with someone and don't need anything, don't stop communicating. Show respect for their choice by saying, "I understand; it seems to me that your cooperation with this company is quite successful." And then move the conversation to the client's interest: would they be interested in how to do better? What are the new opportunities?
You are not pitching or comparing yourself to competitors, but showing, with an emphasis on interest, that you are unique and also solve the problem perfectly and in a new way, and there is a reason to talk to you.
Objections are a good opportunity to build a dialog if you work with them correctly.
You can't simply argue or prove something to a client, but the "show and tell" approach works and brings new deals.
Any objection is a hidden opportunity to get more responses and convert new customers.