When selling your company's products or services, knowing how to handle the dreaded but inevitable “no” is essential to success. Your first step? Figuring out what the prospect really means — because when it comes to sales, no doesn't always mean no. In fact, it most often means:
- “I think it’s too expensive.”
- “I don’t have the authority to say yes.”
- “I’m too busy to fairly evaluate the offer.”
Asking the right questions can help you determine the real reason behind the no, allowing you to then turn that no into a yes.
Overcoming objections in sales takes practice and skill. Here are three common reasons for a "no" that you may come across — and ways to effectively respond.
1. "I think it's too expensive."
When you hear that the price is too high, pause, take a deep breath and ask questions that will keep the conversation moving in a direction to learn more about the true meaning. Your goal here is not to hard sell he or she on features and benefits. Your goal is to understand why the prospect has this initial hesitation.
For example, are they doing an apples to oranges comparison and need clarification on what you are offering versus the competitor? Or is the prospect afraid of an upfront cost that can be amortized over the campaign?
When told the price is too high, you can ask: “What did you think the price would be?” or “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” Assuming you are not a million miles away on what he or she thought the price would be, and now that you know how the prospect determined the cost was too high, you can make sure there are no other obstacles by asking if the price was the only reason for hesitation.
If not, address the other obstacles first. If the gap between his or her thought of what the price should be and what you offered is all that stands between the initial no and yes, you can move to selling the difference in the two numbers and not the total cost.
For instance, if you are selling a product for $50,000 and the prospect thought the cost was going to be no more than $40,000, you should focus on the $10,000 gap and not the $50,000 total. To ensure that moving forward is a good use of the prospect’s time as well as your own, you could ask if the prospect is OK signing up for the product if you resolve the price issue. The answer to this question will ferret out the prospect’s sincerity.
Now, let’s assume all things line up. You have determined the real issue is that the prospect thought the price would be lower and there is a competitor offering a lower price — but most importantly, that the prospect will move forward if you resolve the issue. Now you can move into what makes you different from the competitor and restructure your offer if need be.
You need to either remove a bit to meet their number or reiterate the value of your offer. For example, you might say: “Ms. Prospect, we are only talking about a $10,000 difference for the entire year, and our offer includes items that the competitor is not offering.” Or, you might add to the offer (in true package selling form) something that has a low or no hard cost addition: “Ms. Prospect, it sounds like we have the right products; if we added this extra product, would that close the gap?”
Hopefully, in restructuring the value of your offer, you can get the buyer to agree to a sale that benefits both parties.
2. "I don't have the authority to say yes."
Sometimes, prospects might say no, only for you to find out that they need the approval of someone else in order to go through with the purchase. This answer can be one of the most challenging. The most important thing to do is to be respectful and understanding, keeping in mind that some of these decisions take the involvement of two or more people higher up in the chain of command. Your goal is to find out who else is involved, and figure out how to get them on the next phone call or visit.
If after a question or two you determine that your prospect would like to move forward but the ultimate decision lies with someone else, you might say something like: “Mr. Prospect, in my years of experience selling, I have had almost no success with others selling on my behalf. If you believe this product will meet your needs, I would be happy to talk with the other stakeholders. It would be a shame to miss out on this opportunity because someone simply looked at a proposal and didn’t have the benefit of a professional conversation.”
Once you’ve (hopefully) connected with that decision maker, it’s important to figure out if you’re selling to everybody involved again, or just to that new decision maker. You should try to get that person on the phone as early as possible, as this will save time for both you and the prospect.
If you can’t get the decision maker on the phone now, your goal should be to find out when you can. If he or she isn’t available to speak on the phone immediately, you can include them on your next phone call or copy them on the next email you send to your prospect to keep them in the loop. Always remember that having someone sell on your behalf is almost never a good thing. You should always try to speak to the decision maker yourself.
3. "I'm too busy to fairly evaluate the offer."
Another common no is really a block for: “I’m too busy to fairly evaluate the offer right now.” When you receive this response, the best thing you can do is make the whole process easier for the prospect. You have to ask them questions that will help both you and the prospect close the deal in a faster, easier way. You will only know how to do this once you ask a question such as: “What is preventing you from moving forward?”
It seems like the “I’m too busy” answer comes most often in the fourth quarter. During that time, most companies begin figuring out next year’s budget and many employees take time off for the holidays.
You may find that when you get this response during the fourth quarter, it can actually be easier to address. You can leverage the offer and tell the prospect that the opportunity most likely will not be available next year, which is true.
You could say something along the lines of: “Mr. Prospect, I completely understand. Here at Company XYZ, we close between the week of Christmas and New Year’s. I don’t want to be pushy, but this offer will not be available next year. Perhaps you can make the purchase now, and we could delay the billing if that would move things forward.”
By creating a sense of urgency — and by possibly even making the prospect have a bit of fear that the deal is going away — you may give the prospect the right amount of push they need to make the deal before the fourth quarter ends.
By knowing how to appropriately respond to different types of “no” in situations such as these, you will be better equipped to overcome some of the strongest barriers to landing sales.
Just remember: sometimes “no” really does mean “no.” And that’s OK. When that’s the case, respectfully back away from the sell and move on to the next prospect.
What are you top challenges when selling to prospects? Take HubSpot’s sales survey and let us know!