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Objection Handling in Sales: The Tools and Techniques That Move Deals Forward

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Clari Staff

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Wouldn't it be great if we saw objections as opportunities to add more value to potential buyers instead of dreading them? When done confidently, objection handling has the power to alleviate your prospects' concerns and view you as a trusted advisor. Unfortunately, without proper training, sellers resort to fumbling through objections, putting prospects on the defensive, and ultimately putting their deals at risk.

Sellers need specific rebuttals, scripts, and techniques to overcome prospects' hesitations and move deals forward. You can quickly ramp new sales talent, promote successful reps, and decrease turnover of your top performers when proper objection handling practices are scaled across your entire team.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use objections as opportunities to better serve your customers, and how to handle the 10 most common sales objections.

Preparing reps for objection handling success 

When sellers handle objections, they respond confidently to a customer's concerns or hesitations about buying. “This is not a priority,” “This is not budgeted for,” and “Your product is too expensive,” are some of the most common objections sellers must overcome to keep the conversation moving forward. 

Why objection handling skills are critical 

Objection handling is one of the more challenging sales skills to master because it requires tact, empathy, and a calm and confident attitude. A seller must anticipate which rebuttals they're most likely to hear to respond to them effectively. The deal is less likely to close if the objection isn’t handled correctly.

When objections are not handled at the beginning of the enterprise sales cycle, those doubts remain simmering in the prospect's mind, ultimately risking the deal, even if the opportunity appears to be moving through your pipeline. 

Arm your sellers with what they need to handle objections

You need to know which objections your reps hear the most and how they’re currently handling them in order to coach them on objection handling. Then you can standardize those findings to replicate best practices across the team. Not only will this improve the entire sales team’s ability to close deals, but it also allows you to ramp new reps quickly and efficiently.

With distributed teams, shadowing and ride-alongs are becoming a thing of the past, so you need the right technology to provide personalized coaching despite the distance. 

Use sales enablement features like battle cards, which give reps live cue cards that appear based on the objection mentioned. This assistance allows reps to stay persuasive and in control. 

Use objections to learn what matters to your customers

Most reps dread objections and see them as a sign that their deal is in jeopardy. You should train your reps to lean into objections and view them as a natural part of the sales process. The most successful reps leverage objections as opportunities to learn more about their prospects' needs and find ways to add more value. 

Asking the right questions and listening deeply to prospects' answers is the key to sales success. It's not about having the perfect pitch or "convincing" them to buy. Only when a seller understands their prospect’s pain points and goals, can they educate and soothe their worries. 

“People don’t listen; they just wait for their turn to talk.”

Chuck Palahniuk

Buying Criteria What this objection sounds like Objection handling strategy
Features and benefits "You don't have X feature." If you're on a demo and find yourself getting picked apart on the technicalities even though your product solves most of their problems, humbly reset the conversation to clarify their goals. "I apologize if I got this wrong, but you mentioned that X and X were your biggest priorities. Is this not the case?"
Timeline "We're not ready to buy this right now." Sometimes this objection is legitimate and the only solution is to schedule a meeting time at a later date. But typically, you can push urgency by reminding them of the consequences and impact of not dealing with their issue sooner rather than later.
Resources and time "We don't have the time or resources to implement a system like this." Reassure your prospect that they'd be able lean on your customer success team throughout the relationship. Talk about your solid implementation process that has made set-up much quicker and easier for your other customers who had the same concerns.
Price "We don't have the budget." Work to demonstrate the value and ROI they'd receive from your product and service. Don't forget to quantify the impact of them not taking action. Relevant stories, case studies, and value calculators will help here.
Brand recognition/trust "It's difficult to bet on a product and service that I've never used." Startups often face trust objections due to the lack of familiarity. Prepare your elevator pitch that explains who your company has worked with (social proof) and the value that you've brought to your customers despite being new to market.

Use objections as an opportunity to add value 

“I tell my team that every objection means another chance to showcase our expertise and how we'll be a trusted long-term partner.”

Maya Connet, Director of Sales at Clari

Handling objections isn’t counter-arguing what your prospect says. By learning your buyers’ criteria and listening to their concerns, you’ll be able to add value throughout the sales process and build the trust needed to ultimately close the deal.

Instead of focusing on what you want out of the relationship, look for additional ways to help them based on their concerns. For example, if trust objections came up, you could provide case studies or customer referrals that build social proof and make their decision easier.

If you get an authority objection around not having ultimate sign-off, you could help your prospect build a case for their manager by building decks or providing literature for them to present in a business case to their boss.

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar

Use objections to close more deals with the right prospects

Not every prospect will be the right fit. The sooner this is revealed, the less time you’ll waste. Many reps are hyper-focused on having the right answer to every objection that they forget that some objections are legitimate. 

Use probing questions to qualify whether the prospect is the right fit. Qualifying questions are typically close-ended and elicit ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

Examples of close-ended probing questions are, “Do you have the budget for this?” “Are you in charge of the decision-making process?” Answers to your close-ended questions may signal that the prospect doesn’t qualify and that you shouldn’t bother with objection handling in the first place.

Relax. Realize everyone isn't right for you. Trade your cleverness for curiosity. Instead of assuming people have problems and you're the hero that can fix them. Ask if people have a problem, and if they do, understand from them how much they'd like to fix it. Sorting, not selling.” 

Belal Batrawy

Enable your team to become objection handling pros

The key to handling objections is preparation. Today's informed B2B buyers won't accept standard objection handling scripts that use catch-all responses to address price and timing objections. In a study of B2B buying behavior, 77% of companies reported spending more time researching purchases, and 76% expected more personalized attention from suppliers.

Exceeding buyer expectations means you must prioritize coaching and creating an ecosystem that supports your efforts to reinforce sales plays and proven scripts. Insights should drive the process - using your own data to create strategies personalized to your buyers. 

Sending your team into sales conversations without the proper intelligence tools like live battle cards, call libraries, and game tapes is setting them up for failure. Unfortunately, the ability to join every conversation live is impossible when you have a large sales force and remote teams. Implementing a conversation intelligence tool is critical to ensure your reps are responding optimally to objections like competition and product capabilities.

The following objection handling best practices will not only move deals forward, but will also build trust with buyers:

1. Spend more time listening than talking 

Coach your reps to treat objections as a cue to listen more deeply, not respond immediately. For example, objections like “We don’t have the budget right now” will cause most sales reps to jump to discounting or throw out stats that prove ROI. Without pausing and listening, reps spend too much time addressing this one objection versus gathering more valuable information (like additional deal blockers) that can be used later in the sales process.

2. Validate by repeating back what the prospect says

After receiving the objections, reps must pause and then summarize what the prospect said, asking for confirmation that they’ve understood correctly.

“I can only imagine how disappointing it was to take a chance on a less-known vendor and not get the service promised. What would you need to see from us to make this feel like less of a gamble so you can feel more confident moving forward?”

By validating the prospect’s point of view and showing empathy, they’ll feel heard and understood, which is key to building trust.

3. Get to the heart of the objection

Guide reps on how to understand the difference between an objection and a benign question. Don’t let “How much is implementation?” send them into a tailspin. These questions are typically buying signals versus objections.

Jeff Shore of Shore Consulting recommends asking the following questions to fully understand what your prospect is concerned about and how you can address those concerns. 

“Why is X important to you?”

“Tell me more about why you feel that way.”

“What’s your biggest concern when it comes to X?”

“How important is X to you?”

Moving on!

How to deal with common sales objections

Here are 10 common sales objections and the objection handling techniques that will help you deal with them.

Objection #1: “I don’t need this product/I can’t see how this will benefit me.”

This is one of the most common sales objections. When the client starts off by saying that they have no need for your product/service, it can be hard to know what to say. But this objection is actually an opportunity in disguise. And the best objection handling technique is to study all that you can about the company before going in.

How to handle it:

When you know all that there is to know about the potential customer’s company, you will know what their needs are. Then you can explain to them how your product can satisfy these needs. A great way to get to know these challenges is to ask open-ended questions on your sales call. Use the information you get to list out the challenges that your prospect’s industry or company is typically facing, and explain how your product can help them solve these problems. Be specific in demonstrating your value proposition.

Objection #2: “I have never heard of your company.”

This second objection is based on a lack of trust. If the prospective client has genuinely not heard of your company, it will be hard for them to trust you with their business. Many companies hold the belief that it is better to continue doing business with the salesperson they are familiar with. Shaking that belief is actually a great way to get their business.

How to handle it:

This is an opportunity for you to showcase how your company is better than the companies they might have heard of. A tip: keep your pitch short and crisp, or you risk losing their interest. Moreover, there’s no better time for name-dropping than now. Give them the elevator pitch about what your product/service is and then immediately jump to the companies that you work with. Keep testimonials on hand to talk about what problems you solve for your current clients and how you think you can be a good fit.

Objection #3: “This is not our priority right now/Call me back next quarter”

This type of sales objection is pretty vague and signals a lack of urgency on the part of the client. They might see your value, and even how you might be a good fit. But if they don’t think that they need you right now, they won’t be ready to allocate any budget to you. So what’s the objection handling technique here?

How to handle it:

Find subtle ways to confirm that the objection is genuine and not a way for them to give you the brush-off and leave the sales call.

Show empathy - especially if the prospect is asking for more time and has a positive outlook towards your product. Ask them specific questions about how their needs are expected to change next quarter. Explain how much value you can add to the prospect’s business and how much money they will save by giving you a chance right now. If nothing works, schedule a follow-up sales call for later.

Objection #4: “This looks too complicated to use.”

Ouch. This sounds like criticism and you might be tempted to go fight with your product team. However, this potential customer objection could be due to a lack of time or even a lack of expertise. If the prospect’s concern is that it will take their team too long to get a handle on your product, then they might push back because they don’t want to dedicate that time for training purposes. If this is the case, they might stick with the service they already use, even if it fails to yield comparable results in the long run.

How to handle it:

Ask the client exactly what they find complex and offer to break the process down for them and their team. Offer some indirect assurances by telling your prospect about how quickly another customer picked up your product (you can maybe say that another client had reservations too, but soon discovered they had nothing to worry about). Offer a free demo and assure them that the customer success team will hold their hand through the entire process. Offer training and onboarding for others on the team.

Objection #5: “This is too expensive/We do not have the budget for this.”

Price objections are one of the most common sales objections that a client might have. If the lack of budget is a genuine and permanent concern, then you might not be able to make the sale no matter how good a salesperson you are. But in case there is any wiggle room or it is only a temporary deficit, then the prospect’s concerns can be handled.

How to handle it:

Try to shift the focus from how much the product costs to how much ROI it generates. Even if the product is expensive, talk about how it will add value and decrease costs in the long run. Use case studies to talk about how other companies who use your product ultimately saved money in the long run due to improved efficiency or increased output.

Objection #6: “I need to check with my boss first.”

This objection is raised when something has gone wrong in your sales process and you have reached someone who lacks the authority to make sales decisions. There is only one objection handling technique here. Talk to the higher up responsible for decision-making.

How to handle it:

Ask the point of contact how you can reach out to the person who is responsible for making decisions in the company. Once you get hold of the decision-maker, make your sales pitch to them directly. If the decision lies with more than one person, involve all the decision-making stakeholders in your conversation, whether directly or indirectly.

Objection #7: “We’re using [Competitor’s product] right now.”

This prospective customer objection has to do with competitor interference. If someone else got to your client before you, the chance is higher that they might not switch. There is a reason they say “the early bird gets the worm”. But no sweat. Even if you weren’t first, there are ways to convince the client that you are better.

How to handle it:

Ask the prospective client why they went with your competitor. Try to understand their pain points with them. Then explain how your company can either solve their problems better or do it cheaper, or both! Adding more value and reducing costs are the two main reasons people switch services.

Objection #8: “I don’t want to sign a contract.”

Is your client starting to sound like a frat boy, saying don’t want to be cuffed by you? This #committmentphobia might occur when your prospect wants to give your product a chance - or test the waters - but is not comfortable committing too much of their budget before they can evaluate what value it is going to deliver. They might be hesitant about the value of your product in the long run or might just want to keep their options open.

How to handle it:

Again, demonstrate to your prospect how it makes more monetary sense to sign up for longer. The longer potential buyers sign up for, the more money they save in the long run. Offer them a free demo to try out before they sign a contract. In case such a service exists at your company, offer them a monthly or quarterly subscription plan instead.

Objection #9: “We don’t have the capacity for this product.”

This objection can be tough to handle. It occurs when the prospect doesn’t believe they would be a good fit for your company because their own team lacks the ability to utilize your product. If they believe that they lack the resources, it might be hard to convince them otherwise. But it is not impossible.

How to handle it:

Spend some time to try and understand the prospect and their available resources better. Find ways they can integrate your product to increase efficiency. Map out what the expected results of such an integration can be. But if it truly does not add value to the company, then it might be best to back off.

Objection #10: “I can get the same product cheaper.”

If the prospect has been pitched by a similar company that is able to offer the same capabilities for lesser, then you will have to battle it out on price.

How to handle it:

You could try to explain why your product is more expensive. Perhaps the quality and efficiency of your product are better or it took more R&D to develop. You could try to throw in some freebies like an extra month of service or an upgrade to their plan. But if that doesn’t work, your best bet is to offer them a lower price. 

Tip: Some prospects are suave negotiators and this could be a tactic - request for paperwork using excuses like “I could maybe convince internal stakeholders to match that rate - do you have your existing offer handy?”

Maneuver objections and make the sale!

Objection handling in sales involves active listening, making clear points, validating prospective customer concerns, and tons of follow-up. But one of the best objection handling techniques is to anticipate the objection and be prepared for it.

With enough data, it is actually possible to anticipate objections and swat them away (with empathy, of course). Relax, we’re not asking you to start making complicated spreadsheets of how sales pitches went and when conversations turned positive (or went downhill). We’re offering to do all that for you.

Game Tapes with Clari Copilot

One way to become a master of the game (any game) is to witness the best of the best play it. It's why the pros spend so much time watching tapes and picking apart winning strategies. And now, so can you, with Clari Copilot.

The tool’s Game Tapes feature lets you create curated playlists of the absolute best calls from your star sales folks. All you have to do is snip the portion of a call where a rep has masterfully handled an objection, and add it to the objection handling playlist. It takes a click or two at the most. Then, share the playlist with your team. Keep adding to it every week with new calls.

We don't really need to hammer home the benefits of a structured, shareable, and easily accessible library of calls, do we?

Book a demo with us to experience the power of Clari Copilot and learn how to overrule all types of objections.