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minute read
April 27, 2021

Overcoming Sales Objections in B2B

Written by
Terry Kelleher

Handling Objections in B2B Sales

You’ve spent weeks perfecting your sales pitch, crafting good-looking pitch decks, and creating a list of prospects to reach out to. You launch your first campaign, but the result isn’t what you expected. Instead of your inbox being filled with replies like ‘sounds great!, or, “when can we talk?”, you’re hit with objections.

  • I’m not interested
  • We’re already using [competitor]
  • My colleague handles this process

Luckily, there’s nothing to fear. Sales objections are normal. They show you’ve reached a decision-maker at a company that’s willing to engage with you. It’s vital that you have a system for managing sales objections. You’re going to hear them regularly, and if you’re not prepared you’ll miss opportunities. In this guide, I’m going to show you:

  • What sales objections are
  • Why your team need to be experts at objection handling
  • Common objection in sales
  • Best practices for handling sales objections

By the end, you’ll be able to nurture prospects towards a conversion, handling objections with ease. Let’s jump in.

What are Sales Objections?

Sales objections are pushbacks from your prospects. Every salesperson has experienced sales objections. The best ones understand that even if a prospect has objections to purchasing, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to buy from you at all. Common sales objections include phrases like:

  • It’s too expensive right now
  • We’re already using [competitor]
  • We don’t need this at the moment

Objections indicate that a prospect is evaluating your product or service against an alternative. The alternative could be a competitor, but it could be making no decision at all and continuing with how they’re currently doing things.

Why Objection Handling is Vital

You and your team are going to hear objections during every sales campaign you run. No matter how qualified your target accounts are, it’s rare that someone signs a large contract without any push backs at all. There will be times when a sales objection is completely valid.

For example, if a company tells you “we’ve just signed a contract with [competitor]”, or “We don’t have the budget as our growth slowed last quarter”, you’re probably not going to quickly get around that. But, in most cases, unless you give your prospects a reason to dislike you, there will still be a time in the future where they consider you and want to buy from you.

Four Common Sales Objection Frameworks

If you’re prepared for common sales objections, you can quickly manage them to reassure your prospects. There’s always a chance that you get an objection you’re unprepared for, but in most cases, sales objections fall into four main categories: Budget, Authority, Need, and Time. Let’s take a look at what those typically involve.

1. Budget

This is the sales objection you’ll hear most in B2B sales. Even if you’re selling to big brands with a history of spending large amounts with external vendors, it’s always hard to convince someone they need a new product/service. You’ll hear objections like:

  • “We can’t afford this right now”
  • “This is out of our price range”

The important thing to remember is that for most companies, budget is flexible — if the benefits are there. Even if your service costs thousands per month, if you deliver more than that in value, it’s still a good deal for your buyer. At this stage, focus on making sure the benefits to choosing your solution are clear. Make your pricing transparent, and highlight how you’re more cost-effective or are more able to help with growth than the alternatives.

2. Authority

Considering the typical buying group for B2B solutions involves 6 to 10 decision-makers, you need to work hard to build trust. If one or two key decision-makers aren’t convinced, you’re not going to make the sale. For example, the CMO might be excited about how you can help their marketing team, but if the CFO doesn’t believe it’s worth the cost, you’re stuck. In B2B sales, always focus on engaging with as many decision-makers as possible. Using an account-based sales approach, find out who is responsible for making the final decision, and engage them with relevant content, customized to their likely objections.

3. Need

Another common area for objections is need. If your prospects don’t think they need your help, there’s no reason to buy from you. They have enough on their plate without adding another vendor to their list. Overcoming objections in sales is all about education. Help your leads understand how you can help make their lives and businesses more successful. If your prospects know exactly what pain point you’re solving for them, you won’t get any objections relating to need — they’ll already know exactly how you can help them and the benefits they would get from working with you.

4. Time

If your prospect is sharing objections like:

  • I don’t have time for this
  • I need some time to think about it

That’s bad news. Time-based objections usually mean one or two things. The first option is that your prospect doesn’t want to tell you ‘no’. Time-based objections are often a polite way to end a conversation. The second is that you haven’t educated them enough on the problem. They’re pushing back because they don’t see the problem you’re solving as a priority right now. The key to handling time-based objections is adding clarity to the sales process. Help your prospect understand why they have a problem worth solving, and show them how your product or service is the best way to solve it.

5 Common Sales Objections Handling and Response Examples

Next, I’m going to show you how to overcome objections in sales.

1. “Your product/service is out of our price range”

Unless you’re selling to small startups low on cash, most companies do have money to spend — if you’re solving a problem for them. When you hear this objection, first you need to question whether or not you’ve shown enough value upfront. If your prospect wasn’t actively in the market, you need to focus on educating them about why your product/service is worth investing in. Highlight potential return-on-investment, or cost savings (time or money) that you can help their business with.

If you realize that your prospect truly doesn’t have the budget, your next steps should be to stop focusing on the sale, and start focusing on helping your prospect with their growth. Send them useful resources, guides, and check-in every few weeks to see if you can offer help. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll already know and trust you. Closing will be simple.

2. “I’m interested, but you’ll need to talk to [decision-maker]”

If you’ve talked with a prospect but realized they’re not the final decision-maker, that’s okay.

If you’ve got one person at a company on your side, your next step is to start engaging with other decision-makers. Ask your contact to put you in contact with a decision-maker. If they don’t want to do that, send them resources that they can then forward to the main decision-maker. The critical part is that you build trust with everyone you engage with.

3. “I’m happy with [competitor]”

It happens to every salesperson at some point. The prospect is a perfect fit, but they’ve just decided to go with your main rival. But, there’s good news. You’ve just learned that your product/service is something your prospect wants to use. Rather than accept that you missed out and move on, focus on learning about their current situation.

  • Have they just signed a contract with your competitor?
  • Are they currently evaluating their vendors for the upcoming quarter?

Chances are, they’re not as loyal to your competitor as you think. As long as you can make a good business case for why your product/service is a better alternative, you still have a chance to close them now, or in a few months when their contract is up.

4. “I’m not interested”

If you’re running cold outreach campaigns to new accounts, you’ve likely heard this. It’s a hard one to recover from. Luckily, your prospect has been honest. They’ve proven they’re not yet ready to buy, and you don’t need to waste any time. Let them know you understand, and send over a useful resource or two. Show you’re there for them if they do need any advice in the future. Then, you can check back with them next quarter to see if they’ve changed their mind. Alternatively, your targeting may have been wrong. Identify and reach out to another decision-maker at the company. Chances are, someone else may be happy to discuss further with you.

5. “Your product/service doesn’t solve a problem for us”

This sales objection is related to a lack of problem awareness. If you have an existing client base of similar businesses, the prospect you’re reaching out to is a fit, but they just don’t know it yet. If you hear this objection, it’s time to focus on clarifying exactly how you can help. Sending over case studies of how you’ve helped similar businesses see results is also a good option. Your prospect will naturally have a desire to see similar results.

You’ll also create a sense of urgency here. If they can see you’re helping other similar businesses get amazing results, they’ll want to be part of that. You might also hear prospects telling you that if you add an extra feature or service they’ll become a customer. I’d avoid allowing too much scope creep early on in your interaction. If your prospects don’t understand the problem you’re solving, you’ll be better focusing on good-fit prospects who already understand the problem.

Best Practices for Handling Sales Objections with Ease

The objections you hear won’t be verbatim. There will always be edge-cases and new reasons not to buy from you.

1. Build a Sales Objections Database

Your team will regularly hear the same objections. Every objection you hear should be logged in a central location that all of your reps can easily access. This will mean that when they hear a common objection, they won’t be surprised. They can see what the ideal reply is, examples of where it’s worked, and best practices for navigating the objection. Over time, this objections database will become a key hub, and can be used to inform future sales and marketing efforts.

2. Practice Handling Objections

You never want to be surprised on a sales call. Make sure your team regularly reviews and practices objection management. When they’re on a call with a high-value prospect and hear an objection, the reaction will be natural. They’ll be able to share examples, case studies, and clear answers that help your prospect understand the benefits of working with you. If you treat objection handling as an afterthought, your sales calls will be dominated by sentences like: “I’ll get the answer to you after this call”. While that’s normal, it’s not the only thing you want to be saying.

3. Focus on Getting a Reply

Starting a conversation is vital. Even if your prospect tells you they’re not interested, follow up with a genuine email that proves you understand their point of view. Ask questions that they’ll be happy to reply to, even if it’s to disqualify them as a prospect. That’ll enable you to stop spending time on an account that isn’t going to convert.

For example:

  • Is this a problem you want to solve this quarter?
  • Is there someone else I should talk to about this?
  • What would make this a no-brainer for you?

By asking direct but open-ended questions, your prospect can easily reply. You’re not forcing a yes or no answer, so your prospect can answer in the way they see fit. If you’re asking questions that are too direct, prospects will start ignoring you because it’s clear you only care about the sale.

4. Know When to Walk Away

Finally, it’s important that you know when to walk away. If a prospect has repeatedly found new objections even after you’ve handled previous ones, there’s a chance they just don’t want to directly tell you ‘no’. Be honest with yourself — does it seem at all likely that your prospect will convert? If not, consider pausing your efforts. Tell them you’ll reach out in a few months (or ask for a good date to reach out). For now, your efforts are best spent elsewhere, and your prospect will be grateful that you’re accepting they’re not ready to purchase yet.

Closing Thoughts

Objection handling is a fundamental part of sales. Even the best-fit prospects will have objections, and it’s rare that people will happily part with their money before confirming that it’s a valid way to spend it. Go into sales calls expecting objections, and be prepared. If you’re unable to answer, be honest, and get back to them after the call with answers.

Your buyers are smart, and they can see through poorly handled objections. If you don’t handle this part of the sales process with confidence, they’ll quickly decide to end discussions, and you’ll miss out on opportunities. Luckily, sales objections are consistent and fall into a few main categories: Budget, Authority, Need, and Time. You’ll have time to prepare, and regular learning opportunities to ensure every objection you receive is quickly handled and answered.

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