The relationship between a brand and a prospect is a delicate thing. The hard work your internal teams have put into creating a great product, attracting leads, and moving them through the pipeline—all of it can topple in a moment if the prospect has an objection.
Objections are inevitable in the sales process. At some point, your sales team will encounter a prospect who mostly likes the product, but finds some argument for not going through with a purchase. But encountering an objection doesn’t have to be the end of the process. If your sales team is prepared, it can be a minor hurdle they overcome on the path to converting a new customer.
That puts a lot of pressure on the sales team. And to be sure, learning how to handle objections is a big part of their job. But product marketers can play an important role in making sure the sales team is equipped to skillfully and knowledgeably handle the objections they encounter.
Start with Customer Objection Research
Handling objections effectively starts with knowing what to expect, so you can prepare. Product marketing’s job is to identify the objections most likely to come up and the type of prospect most likely to cite each objection.
Most objections salespeople encounter tend to fall into a few main categories:
- Price – For many customers, money has a lot to do with the purchasing decision. Maybe they genuinely don’t have much of a budget, or maybe they just want to be entirely confident that the product is worth the price. Either way, every salesperson should be prepared to address objections based on cost.
- Competition – Most of your customers won’t consider your product alone, they’ll explore multiple product options in your space on the path to deciding which is right for them. One of the biggest categories of objections your sales team is likely to face are those based on how your product compares to others. To address these, your sales team will need to know enough about the other products on the market to anticipate the most likely competitive objections.
- Timing – This objection can take on a few different forms. The prospect is too busy to talk right now. They won’t be considering a new product until their current contract is up in X months. They don’t want to make any big decisions until after the pandemic/the holidays/a transition their company is going through. Sometimes this is a stalling tactic a savvy salesperson can get past with the right objection handling technique.
- Product limitations -Maybe your product is missing a key feature they insist they need. Or it’s not compatible with another product they use. Or they’re convinced their team will find it unintuitive and they don’t have time for training. Knowing what aspects of your product prospects may have an issue with will help your sales team more effectively handle any complaints that arise.
- Disinterest – The brush off, or an expression of disinterest, tends to make up a pretty large portion of consumer responses to a sales call. People hate feeling like they’re being sold to, so sometimes this is an automatic reaction regardless of what you’re selling. Sometimes it’s about not understanding what the product really is, or seeing what value it could possibly have for them. Salespeople that can figure out how to navigate past an initial stage of disinterest will have much more success.
- Fit issues – Your product isn’t for everybody. If it’s designed for enterprise businesses and your team pitches a small business, they’ll likely (rightly) tell you it’s overkill for what they need and can afford. Sometimes these objections are legitimate, and can help you refine your marketing to avoid attracting the wrong lead. On the other hand, if a prospect matches your persona but insists that your product isn’t a fit for their current process, a seeming fit issue could be a matter a skilled salesperson can overcome with solid objection handling.
Knowing the main categories of objections is useful when starting your process. But your product, audience, and market are unique. You’ll be better off if you dig into the information at your disposal that helps you identify the specific objections your salespeople are most likely to encounter for your product.
We covered how to do this in more detail in our earlier post on objection handling 101. To summarize, you can identify the actual objections your prospects have by:
- Working with the sales team to do a review of interactions with past leads, and develop a list of the feedback and objections they provided.
- Looking to customer reviews to see what customers and prospects are saying about you.
- Doing a competitive analysis to understand precisely how your product compares to others on the market.
- Doing win/loss interviews to hear directly from both your customers and prospects that chose not to buy about what they did and didn’t like about the product.
Once you’ve identified the main objections your sales team will encounter, you can start crafting materials that will aid them in their response.
At a glance, objections seem like a bad thing. But anytime your prospects voice something negative about your product, it teaches you something about what they care about. That information can help you over time to produce a better strategy for marketing and sales. And it can equip your product team with the information they need to improve the product.
All of that adds up to more success over time, as long as product marketing works to understand objections and make sure the company is equipped—at all levels—to address them effectively.