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Negotiation and objection handling

Picture of Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Founder & Managing Director

When it comes to sales, are you a confident negotiator and objection handler? 

While negotiating and dealing with buyer objections can sometimes feel daunting, they’re both critical skills for salespeople to learn as they will need them during the entire sales process. It’s crucial to have the right mindset when it comes to negotiation and objection handling.

The good news is that there are some simple ways to refine your approach and learn effective strategies so you can head into your next sales conversations with confidence.

In a recent Ethical Sales Academy masterclass, Oliver Harrison and Sheree Owen shared their combined 40+ years of experience in sales and business development to give insight and tips for this topic. Oliver is the Group Sales Director for Green Element Group, while Sheree  is a Business and Sales Strategist who runs her own consultancy business. 

If you would like to access the full masterclass and handouts, please sign up for our Ethical Sales Academy – our community of like-minded salespeople.

Read on to discover how to overcome common objections such as budget, and create a great relationship with prospective clients.

Creating the right mindset for negotiation and objection handling

Sales is all about mindset. To confidently approach negotiation and objection handling in your sales conversations you need to have an enquiring, challenging and problem-solving mindset. With these skills to hand, you can face negotiations and objections more creatively.

Rather than seeing objections as obstacles or blockers to the sale, it’s worth reframing them in your mind as a conversation point to discuss your prospect’s needs in greater depth. That way you can use the objections to understand more about what it is they’re looking for. 

So if your prospect is querying cost, for example, don’t immediately jump in and over-demonstrate the value of your product or service. Instead, use your enquiring, challenging and problem-solving mindset to delve into your prospect’s business and ask some open questions about their budgets and expectations. 

It’s also important to note that what you might think is an objection isn’t necessarily one from the buyer’s perspective. It can be easy to hear a prospect voice a ‘thought’ about your product or service, immediately see it as an objection, then go into panic mode to try and bring them around, or just assume they don’t want what you are selling and give up. But it’s important to remember that sometimes people are just talking through issues out loud – and these are not necessarily objections. Listen to what they’re saying before you reply. 

One of the most under-used skills in sales is listening. Often, when we choose to listen carefully to our buyers and not interrupt them we find that they will talk themselves out of the objection in the first place! Or at the very least they will provide you with lots of insights into their current situation that you can speak to.

Overcoming the most common objections

According to a recent Ethical Sales poll on LinkedIn, the most common objections in sales conversations are about budget, price and timing. So how can we overcome these?

Firstly, research is crucial. If you’ve done good research on your prospect in advance, you’ll already know a lot about them (which they’ll appreciate) and you’re likely to have already considered and worked around any potential objections.

““If it’s a really hard stop on budget then ask why you’ve got this far. Have you identified the right person?” "

When you start moving further through the sales process with a prospective buyer, look for any inconsistencies in behaviour. If everything has been done right so far but there are sudden changes in behaviour or activities on the prospect’s side, this is an indicator that there’s new information you need to be aware of and act on. 

For example, if out of the blue your prospect starts to query the budget, ask questions about why. It may be that something has gone wrong at their end, or a senior colleague has voiced concerns, and you may be able to support them through this to close the sale.

If you need to negotiate on variables such as time and budget, plan for these at the beginning of the process and not when you’re closing the deal.  Map out what your limits are, so you have firm boundaries and don’t end up creating a deal you’re not happy with (or cannot substantiate). You may need some contingencies in your back pocket to make sure the deal goes through, but have your lines firmly drawn.

Negotiating budget with buyers

Money is always going to be the most frequent objection, so it’s crucial to have pricing really clear in your mind before you get into terms with the prospect. Do you have the authority to drop the price if needed? Will this still be profitable? 

If the budget is a sticking point, don’t immediately rush to discount. Offer other concessions such as longer payment terms, which can help with cash flow. And remember that if you can offer a concession now, it may improve the partnership long-term and lead to a more durable and friendly relationship. For high-ticket products or services, it may even be profitable to offer a loss leader initially – this could lead to getting referrals from that client, or them moving onto a higher-priced product in the future. 

Another way to negotiate cost is to have a range of entry points for people to enter your business. If you’ve had an enquiry about one of your higher-priced services or products, look at what sits below so you’ve got that knowledge when you go into a sales conversation with them.

Being confident in your sales approach

Remember that in sales you may need to play the long game. If you still can’t overcome their objections or negotiate terms you both agree on, you may need to move them into a different timeline. After all, it’s better that they come in later rather than not at all. Have confidence that it might happen, rather than knowing exactly when. If you give as much value as possible, a prospect may feel as if they owe you something back and are more likely to buy from you when the time is right.

Ultimately, having trust in your product or service is key. Having confidence in what you’re offering will in turn give you the gravitas and mindset to negotiate and overcome any objections that you find in an ethical, friendly and professional manner.

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