New salespeople often believe that the biggest key to success is overcoming objections—finding out what’s stopping people from buying and negating those reasons through persuasion. And to be clear, this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy. But if it’s your main priority, at the expense of the rest of your strategy, it’s going to devastate your sales numbers.
In case you haven’t put a name to it, overcoming objections is strictly focused on predicting (or documenting) the common points of opposition from your prospects and finding ways to get around them. For example, if many of your prospects explain that they’re reluctant to use your service because they don’t want to be locked into a long-term deal, you can come up with an alternative plan that offers shorter terms, or find a way to justify why long-term contracts are better.
If you’re already mid-conversation, responding to objections like these is vital, and if you can overcome them, you’ll get closer to a sale—but if this is the crux of your entire sales strategy, it could hurt you. There are several problems with this approach.
Objections are typically a sign that you haven’t done enough to explain the advantages of your product or service. In the preceding example, the customer’s main objection is that they don’t like the nature of your long-term contract; but if you introduced multiple packages, each with different term lengths, they never would have had a chance to point out the disadvantage of the contract term you offered.
In other words, the ideal approach is to have your objection-busters “baked in” to your core pitch. If your initial presentation or conversation is sufficiently persuasive, you’ll eliminate most objections before they can even form.
It’s no secret that pushy salespeople can cost you sales. While it can be advantageous to instill a sense of urgency or apply light pressure, if people feel like they’re being forced to make a decision they don’t want to make, or if they feel bullied or undermined, they’re going to pull out. They don’t want to deal with a company whose values would permit such behavior, and they don’t want to make a hasty decision.
Focusing too much on overcoming objections can lead to an overly pushy approach. Your salespeople will treat the conversation like a battle, anticipating the possible objections a person could have and getting ready to destroy them. If every objection a customer raises gets met with a swift, formulaic rebuttal, the customer isn’t going to feel heard. It’s usually better to acknowledge and sympathize with the objection than to simply focus on ways to cut it down.
This is one of the biggest problems with overcoming objections as a core sales strategy because it can affect you in so many different ways. No matter how thorough your demographic research is, or how accurate your customer personas are, the bottom line is every customer is different.
Making overcoming objections your priority generally assumes that objections are a bad thing, but in many contexts, they’re actually a good thing. A prospect who’s flatly uninterested in your product will walk away from the conversation, or give you an immediate “no.” A prospect who’s interested, but needs some more information will give you an objection; in other words, objections are invitations to further conversation, and a sign that your approach is working.
Objections are also an opportunity. They’re usually presented as a question, which means you can respond in any way you want. Instead of seeing them as roadblocks that need to be demolished, see them as valuable opportunities for engagement.
Here’s another thought for you: if you have tunnel vision driving you to overcome objections, it’s probably an indication that you’re, on some level, scared of rejection. You’re worried that your prospects aren’t going to follow through on their purchases, and you’re not sure that you have the right solution for your target demographics.
A fear of rejection is a dangerous thing in the sales world. It makes you less likely to take risks. It makes you less confident in your interactions. It also holds you back from opportunities that might otherwise be valuable. If you’ve been perpetually focused on overcoming objections, take this moment to look introspectively, and consider whether an innate fear of rejection has driven you to this place.
So if overcoming objections shouldn’t be the main focus of your strategy, what should take its place? The answer may be different for different businesses, but these are some strong alternatives:
Remember, overcoming objections can be a useful addition to your sales strategy, so long as it isn’t your main priority. Spending too much time or energy on it will have a negative effect, ultimately tanking your sales numbers.