[GUEST POST] Can Your Sales Reps Handle these Four Key Buying Objections?


Feb 25, 2015


Below is a guest post by Tom Pisello, Chairman and Founder of Alinean, a developer of B2B value selling and marketing tools. www.alinean.com

The ability for your reps to “handle objections” is a key to achieving 2015 sales success, this according to a recent interview of Jim Ninivaggi, Sales Enablement Practice Director for SiriusDecisions.

Too often companies are lumping objection handling into one big bucket, but it is important to distinctly arm sales reps and channel partners to handle each of the four common objections no matter where / when they occur.

Originally outlined in Xerox’s training program from Jim’s experience back in the day, these four buying objections are just as, if not even more relevant to sellers today.

According to Jim, here are the four key objections and the best way to turn them into selling success:

Buyer's journey

1) Skepticism

This is the objection you want to hear. This means that the buyer is interested, but they are not quite convinced. They want to buy, but want proof.  To them, your proposal sounds good, but how do they know you can actually deliver on the promises you are making.

Skepticism usually occurs during the middle part of the buyer’s journey, during the consideration phase, where the buyer has committed to change and they are in an active buying decision. This is where the buyer researches what solutions exist to help solve their challenges, what their requirements are, what solutions are available that meet these requirements, and what is the short list of providers we want to consider.

Overcoming Skepticism: The buyer needs to answer a couple of key questions: Have you done this for other companies like ours? What can we expect as a return on investment?
When the buyer is asking for proof, you need to give them the evidence they need to overcome the skepticism and build strong trust. You need to prove to them that the results are real and achievable. It is important that the evidence:

  • Tells a credible story aligned precisely with the buyer, so they can see themselves in the results and
  • Providing concrete proof of value achieved– the same industry, size, geo, as well as matching the buyer’s role and from someone who has faced similar challenges.
  • Comes straight from a 3rd party, such as independent analyst research, customer success stories and “voice of customer” videos.


This is often a “need in disguise” – I am looking for XYZ, but you don’t provide that. And often misunderstandings are going to be planted by your competitors. This objection typically occurs in the middle to later phases of the journey.

According to Jim, SiriusDecisions actually faced this objection themselves – hearing from several prospects (prompted by the competition) that they didn’t have analysts with real world practical work experience academics instead - when in fact that was far from the truth.

Overcoming a Misunderstanding: Instead of jumping in with a direct rebuttal of the misunderstanding, indicating that “no our analysts have over 15-20 years experience in their area of practice”, the salesperson should first verify “Is that important to you… what is the concern?”. 

You are providing an opportunity for the buyer to clarify the need: “I want to work with folks who have actually done the job.“ This allows the rep to turn the misunderstanding into a need, and then your sales rep can respond to clarify, showing how you specifically meet that need.

3) Drawback

A drawback highlights a perceived shortcoming in the solution by the buyer – a missing feature or function, or a common one today: that your price is too high.
According to Jim, you hope that a drawback comes later in the buyer’s journey, during the decision phase, where the buyer has to justify the purchase decision and make a specific vendor / proposal decision. This unfortunately is the stage where more deals are getting stuck, because it’s where the decision becomes real, and individuals and organizations are so frugal and risk averse.

Overcoming a Drawback: If you have made a good case for value, you can usually overcome a drawback. According to Jim, the key is to reframe all of the things they agreed they would get from your solution and the value you can provide. When the value is perceived as overwhelming, the drawbacks are then minimized in perspective.

Jim recounted a story of selling his home recently. Towards the end of the process, a home inspection unfortunately revealed that Jim’s house had a chimney in need of $5,000 in repairs. The real estate agent recommended crediting the buyer the repair funds as part of the deal, but Jim held strong.

He told the real estate agent to remind the buyer how the home meets all their requirements. They wanted to live on a cul de sac, they wanted X amount of property, they wanted X number of rooms, they wanted the best school district … remind them of all the things they are going to get with this home, and if they are really going to walk away from all of this because of a $5,000 repair?  The good news, Jim was able to get his price and get the deal closed.

This is true even in B2B deals, as everyone gets focused on the one drawback, especially price, so you have to take the buyer back to everything they are getting for the investment – where the drawback, the price and requested discount, is so insignificant compared to the great value they are going to get.< /p>

4) Indifference

Early in the buyer’s decision-making process, a buyer will often indicate: “I don’t have a need for your solution.” And this is because they are either” happy with what they have”, or ignorance is bliss, and they “Don’t know what they don’t know.”

During the discovery phase of the buyer’s journey, the buyer is often unaware that they even have an issue worth addressing, and if they are aware of the issue, may not be putting enough priority on addressing the issues at this time. This is especially true today, when buyer’s are “doing more with less”, and have little time and even less resources / budget to tackle newer issues proactively.

Overcoming Indifference: According to Jim, this is often the toughest objection to handle and overcome. – to get someone who says “I don’t see a need for your solution,” or “we’re not ready right now” to develop enough need and urgency for them to say ‘you know, you are right, we need to fix this problem”.

At this stage, it’s not about the solution or benefits, but about the challenges the buyer is facing. You have to answer the question: “Why Change Now?” Providing sales reps and channel partners with the ability to help the buyer uncover the true scope of the issues they have: helping to educate the buyer on common issues you are seeing at other accounts similar to theirs, diagnose and prioritize their unique challenges, and provocatively communicate and quantify how costly “do nothing” really is, specifically for this buyer.

The Bottom-Line

According to Jim Ninivaggi, selling is more difficult today because:

  • The buyer’s journey is a non-linear, more complex process than ever
  • More stakeholders are involved, with each stakeholder perhaps at a different point in thir personal decision making journey and with each having a unique perspective on value
  • The vendor may intercept the journey at any point, sometime early, but too often late.

In order to help facilitate the buyer’s journey, it is clear that your sales reps and channel partners will encounter objections along the way, and that these objections don’t neatly fit into only one bucket.

As a result, they need to be armed to handle each of four key types of objections effectively, with the right value messaging to handle and overcome the objection no matter where or when they might occur in the sales process.

Connect 2015Attend Tom's Session at Qvidian's Connect Conference!

Hear more from Tom Pisello, the ROI Guy, as a featured speaker at our Connect 2015 in San Antonio, TX, March 23-25.